Are You Interview Ready

My high school kindly printed the Education and Career Guidance Package for the graduating class.  The interview section does tell some true facts (though I only read it after I’d settled my college interview), while some other points are too generic.

Here is the content:

How do you sell yourself and show your potential employer/Scholarship body how valuable you can be to their company? You want to make them hire you TODAY and not even THINK about other applicants. You know you’re the right person for the scholarship/job, so how do you make THEM see that? Here are seven easy steps you can take to really make yourself shine during the interview process.

1. First, find out everything you can about the company you’d be working for. Who are its customers? What is its mission statement? How does the job you’d be performing relate to the company’s goals? Finding out this type of information gives you great insights on what kinds of questions to ask your interviewer and shows them that you’ve done your research and already have some background in the company’s business and objectives. Talk to seniors or relatives or friends who are working in or bonded to the organization/company/agency you are interviewing with.

2. Read over the scholarship/job description carefully. Analyze your own strengths and see how you can tie the two together. If you have previous experience, make note of those times where you helped achieve a specific result. Employers/scholarship bodies give more serious consideration to applicants who have a strong interest and background and a track record in their industry than those who do not.

3. Prepare answers to commonly asked interview questions. You may even what to rehearse with a friend. Most importantly, make sure you have enough rest before the interview. DO NOT overload on caffeine/alcohol/medicine to compensate for your nervousness!

4. First impressions count. It should go without saying that you should arrive 15 minutes prior to the interview, get a hair cut, dress appropriately and neatly (from head to toe) the position you’re applying fore, greeting your interviewer with a firm handshake and maintain eye contact throughout the discussion process. Avoid wearing too much perfume or flash jewelry (a strict no jewelry rule for boys!) that might intimidate or put off your interviewers. Be enthusiastic, personable and outgoing. SMILE! Show a sincere interest in the people you meet and the work you’d be doing. Interviewers can tell if you’re desperate!

5. Show that you can solve problems and work well under pressure, since nearly every job will require both skills. If you can identify a particular problem in your industry or that you may face when doing this job, give the interviewer some ideas of how you would solve it. Be calm, relaxed, lively and confident. Some nervousness is expected, but your overall mannerism (such as fidgeting, nail-biting, slumping in your chair) will be an instant giveaway on how well you REALLY work under stress. Likewise, if you project confidence and security in how you carry yourself, the interviewer will definitely notice. Answer questions smartly without contradicting your CV/resume or any previous statement you made.

6. If your mind goes blank when asked if you have any questions, stay calm (but you shouldn’t go blank in the first place for you’re supposed to prepare questions before the interview). You can ask generic questions like what they look for in a scholar or asking why this position is open. What’s the company’s track record and turnover rate? Are they performing well and keeping employees on board? What are the prospects for scholars in this company? What does the bond entail? Remember, you’re not just selling yourself on how you’d be a great fit for this company/agency but you are finding out how this company/agency could also be a great fit for you.

7. If an interviewer asks a question that makes you feel uncomfortable, smile politely and ask, “Why would you like to know?” (I would suggest that you answer as far as you can, or smoke smartly) Remember, your interviewer is prohibited from asking you personal questions, including references to your race, gender, sexual preference, marriage status and child care situations. Your interview should be focused on how well you can perform the job, not your home and family life.

8. Do not ask controversial questions like expected salary or bond breaking, unless the interviewer brings up the subject. Make sure you do not over step your position as an interviewee and create an arrogant or greedy impression on your interviewers!

9. Make sure you come for the interview prepared wit at least TWO extra photocopies of your CV, application form, academic and professional certificates, co-curricular awards etc. You never know when the interviewer may ask for them. Bring your own pen in case you need to make notes.

10. After the interview, be sure to follow up with a thank-you note. Recount your strengths in the letter and highlight your qualifications. Touch on specific discussions or conversations you had with the interviewer to help them remember that polished, professional, enthusiastic candidate (you). Close the note by letting the interviewer know of your sincere interest in the position and your confidence in doing it well. If this is too much, follow up with a phone call if you are not contacted within the time frame that your interviewer mentioned.

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