A human resources director gives you eight tips to ace your next interview.
Being selected for an interview is a successful leap across a major hurdle in your job hunt. By the time a company selects your resume from the many it has received, it is serious about the possibility of hiring you. That means it's very important that you put your best foot forward. Following are eight tips from a human resources director for a successful interview.
- Take a phone interview seriously. Many companies begin with a telephone interview to screen for the top applicants to interview in person. When you're selected, make sure you have the right time and phone number. Have a quiet place in your home to chat—no TV, kids, or pets. Remember that your voice can reveal much about you. Smiling while talking on the phone conveys that you are a relaxed, friendly person.
- Be prepared. Once you're invited to an in-person interview, double check the date, time, and location. Know the names of the people with whom you will be speaking and find out if it's a group interview. Bring extra copies of your resume, just in case.
- First impressions count. Remember you're selling the whole package, not just your job skills. Dress, grooming, and overall appearance are extremely important. Wear something you like and feel comfortable and confident in.
- Do your homework. Study the organization's website to learn as much as you can. Behave during the interview in such a way that you appear knowledgeable without seeming like an overeager student. Bring work samples or ideas for the job that will help the employer get a sense of how you would approach it if you were hired.
- Ask questions. Ask about the organization culture, work, and mission. Talk with the interviewers as if they are fascinating people you're meeting for the first time whom you want to know better. (This approach works in job interviews just as it does in social settings.)
- Be aware of body language. Body language is just as important as your actual speech. Ask a friend to help diagnose any negative habits you have when you're stressed so you can avoid them. Playing with your hair or pen, saying things like "And, uh…," or sitting in a tense position make you look unsure of yourself. Make eye contact with everyone in the room, not just those you perceive as the decision makers.
- Acknowledge everyone in the office. You are interviewing with everyone you meet in the workspace, not just those in the interview room. Show that you are considerate and interested. I usually ask our receptionist her opinion of our applicants.
- Follow up. Collect business cards or names of those present. Shake hands as you leave. Email them that day. Follow up with an actual written thank-you note, at least to the human resources director and the hiring manager.
Good luck! Your job is out there waiting for you.
June B. Lane is director of human resources for the American Wind Energy Association in Washington, DC. Email: [email protected]
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