Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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Interviewing Made Easy
Here are some brief interviewing tips. If you would like further interviewing skills assistance, please contact our office (298-1838) to schedule an appointment or schedule a mock interview. If you do come in for a mock interview, please bring a hard copy of your resume and possibly a job description.
There are only two interview questions in the entire world:
"Why do you want to work here"?
Why should we let you in the club? What do you know about the club?
"What are you going to do for us"?
Do you have the appropriate skills and abilities? Can you prove it?
In addition to these two questions, the employer is also interested in one very important intangible:
"Do you fit-in with us"?
This is not a direct question, but rather what they are assessing. You may have all the right answers to the interviewers' questions, but if they feel that you don't fit-in with existing team members, they won't let you in the club.
Before The Interview
Research: Learn all you can about the company or organization by going to their Internet home page.
Mental Preparation: Prepare potential interview questions that you may be asked and develop "stories" that will provide the interviewer with "proof" of your skills and competencies. This will help you to feel comfortable during the interview because you will know exactly what you are talking about. Ask yourself, 'why would I hire me'?
Physical Preparation: The night before, plan your wardrobe, your travel route, and get a good nights rest to alleviate stress.
First impressions are very important, so if you are not sure what to wear, call and ask what is appropriate. A conservative suit, (pant suits are probably acceptable for women in most cases, except in very old conservative organizations). Either way, it is best to error on the side of conservatism.
Avoid: Loud colors, too much perfume or aftershave, too much make-up, too much jewelry, cowboy boots, spike heels, flats, flip-flops, athletic shoes, and hiking boots.
Wear: light colored shirt (men) or blouse (women), dark socks (men), neutral hosiery (women), conservative tie (men), and comfortable polished professional shoes (men and women).
Do: Shower, shave, wash your hair, deodorize, brush your teeth, and use mouthwash. Try to cover up the tattoo's and if possible the body piercing.
Carry: A professional looking folder/portfolio with a pen and a pad of paper. DO NOT CARRY a large tote bag or back pack.
Some Basic Rules:
- Arrive about 10 minutes early. Introduce yourself to the receptionist, why you are there, and whom you are there to see.
- When first meeting the interviewer, extend your hand offer a firm (not vise-like) grip, make good eye contact, and express your appreciation for the interview.
- Always address the interviewer as Ms., Mr., or Dr. Wait until being offered a chair and do not place any of your personal items on their desk.
- Relax. Listen to the questions and begin to formulate your thoughts in the form of a "story" where you can provide PROOF BY EXAMPLE TO EVERYTHING YOU SAY.
- Your answers should be able to convey RESULTS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS orally the way your resume does on paper. Speak in a confident positive manner without being arrogant, and be aware of poor grammar and slang.
- During the interview ask questions, maintain good eye contact, and body posture.
Being "Tested" During the Interview:
Being Confronted: Some interviewers may confront applicants to see how they react to pressure and respond to stressful situations on the job. They want to see what "pushes your buttons" and how easily they get pushed. Don't panic and "cop an attitude", just be cool and be yourself!
Over Used Questions: Interviewers may start with trite questions like "tell me about yourself". This is just a lead-off question to see if you really are the right person for the job. What the interviewer wants to know is your strengths, qualifications, experience, and education and how they match with position that you are interviewing for. What the interviewer does not want to know is your life story, your family background, marital status, hobbies or interests.
Illegal Questions: Interviewers may "sneak-in" an illegal question. Whether this is done intentionally or unintentionally, how you respond to the question is what is most important. "Copping an attitude" or "threatening legal action" will not help your cause.
- Give the interviewer the benefit of the doubt and answer it. Answer the question without revealing that you are offended. This is probably the best way to handle this situation. Some interviewers are just curious, unaware of the legality of the question, or have been poorly trained.
- Tactfully remind the interviewer that you would like the questions to relate to your qualifications and the job/position that you are interviewing for. You just might surprise and impress the interviewer and show them that you can handle yourself like a professional. However you could anger the interviewer and they might think that you are just being "sensitive".
- Whichever way you choose to answer an illegal question, always be aware of a potential pattern. One or even two illegal questions are harmless mistakes, while three is a pattern.
Sample Interview Questions: Potential Interview Questions
Questions that you may want to ask an employer during the interview:
- What type of training programs are set-up for new employees?
- Could you please describe the typical first year projects or assignments?
- What do you see as the greatest challenge in this position?
- What kind of person are you looking for?
- What is the work environment like?
- What are the opportunities (or paths) for advancement?
- What are the organizations policies on promoting from within?
- How and when are evaluations conducted?
- What is the overall structure of the department?
- Where do you see the organization / department heading for in the future?
Evaluating a Job Offer:
Can You Envision Yourself Doing The Job Every Day?
- Does the job match with your skills, abilities and interests? (Do you think you would be happy?)
- Will the job be a stepping-stone to bigger and better things? (Is there room for advancement?)
- Can you envision doing the job everyday? (How important is the position within the organization?)
- How comfortable are you with the hours? (Is there travel and over-time? If so, how much?)
- Can you envision working for the supervisor and the organization? (Are you all "on the same page"?)
- Is there room for growth within the organization? (or is there a "glass ceiling"?)
- What is the interviewer's "attitude" toward the job and the organization? (Do they speak favorably?)
- What are the demands of the job and how do they affect your personal life? (See question #4)
- Are the salary / benefits within your expectations? (If the salary is good, what must you do to earn it?)
Where Is The Job Located?
- Is the company/organization located in a big city, a suburb, or rural area?
- What is the cost of living in the area?
- What are the options and availability for housing? (rent vs. own)
- What are the transportation options? (do you take public or drive?)
- What are the Social, Recreational, and Educational opportunities in the area?
The Bottom Line on Interviews:
- The person that can network their way to the "powers that be", that best sell their accomplishment's, and best fit's-in will get the job.
- It is not what you know, but whom you know, and who knows you.
- It is all about being in the right place at the right time.
- Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it!
Memorial Hall 125
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455
Phone: (309) 298-1838