Enhancing Interviewing Skills – Training Manual
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A. PRE-INTERVIEW PREPARATION............................................................................................. 4
MY BIGGEST PERSONAL CAREER GOAL DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE ....................................... 4
MY 30 SECOND RESUME........................................................................................................ 5
EMPLOYER & INDUSTRY APPRAISAL QUESTIONNAIRE.......................................................... 7
30 COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND HOW TO ANSWER THEM................................. 8
QUESTIONS TO ASK THE INTERVIEWER............................................................................... 13
KEY ECONOMIC DATA SOURCES.......................................................................................... 14
HELPFUL WEBSITES.............................................................................................................. 15
GUIDE TO PROPER INTERVIEW ATTIRE................................................................................ 16
CHECK LIST FOR THE NIGHT BEFORE THE INTERVIEW ........................................................ 17
B. DURING THE INTERVIEW..................................................................................................... 19
INTERVIEW DO’S AND DON’TS ............................................................................................ 19
IN-INTERVIEW BODY LANGUAGE GUIDE ............................................................................. 20
C. CASE STUDIES ...................................................................................................................... 21
PREPARATION FOR AN INTERVIEW ..................................................................................... 21
AVAILABILITY FOR AN INTERVIEW....................................................................................... 21
D. ARTICLES ............................................................................................................................. 22
ACING THE BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEW .................................................................................. 22
10 TIPS TO BOOST YOUR INTERVIEW SKILLS ....................................................................... 25
INTERVIEW COMEDIAN CANDIDATES ................................................................................. 27
A. PRE-INTERVIEW PREPARATION
MY BIGGEST PERSONAL CAREER GOAL DEVELOPMENT EXERCISE
A career is a journey to a destination. People who know where they are going in life tend to be
more focused, clear in their planning and precise in their execution. They are also more
satisfied and attractive for an employer. Start by writing a clear and specific goal stating the
highest point you wish to achieve in your career. Examples are given below.
Examples: [Note the use of specifics such as job titles, dates, durations, numbers and
“I will become the first Pakistani CFO of ABC Multinational Company by the age of 45 and will
ensure that it has a 10% edge in profitability over its competitors in all countries of operation.”
“I will start my accountancy firm in Singapore and will build it to in excess of USD 1,000,000 in
revenues per year.”
“I will become a Vice President at ABCD Consulting within fifteen years and I will receive an
Employee of the Year award there.”
“I will become the Chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Pakistan by 2030.”
The above is your promise to yourself.
MY 30 SECOND RESUME
A thirty-second resume is also known as an elevator pitch. Think of it as your personal
advertisement. Within half a minute you are to describe what you can do for an employer and
why they should hire you. 30-second resumes are powerful tools for networking, personal
branding and for use in preparing resumes as well as for performing well in interviews. There
are many ways in which you can structure them. Here are templates you can use. Remember
to practice your 30-second resume with friends and others so that you sound natural,
confident and convincing. Happy personal selling!
My name is _______. I offer your organization my _____ [unique, relevant strength #1], ______
[unique, relevant strength #2] and _______ [unique, relevant strength #3]. My achievements
include _______ [unique, relevant achievement #1], ________ [unique, relevant achievement
#2] and _________ [unique, relevant achievement #3].
A _______ by education, my career goal is to ________________________ [fit with employer
based on your research]. I am thus looking for a _________________ [job title] position at your
My name is Saira. I offer ABC Company my strong zero based budgeting skills, excellent grasp
over Peachtree and unmatched teamwork abilities. My achievements include my two terms as
the President of the Finance Club at my college, my distinctions in Finance and Accounting and
my A+ rating received from my supervisor while working at XYZ Consultants.
An ACA by education, my career goal is to help ABC Company increase its profitability in
Pakistan by 10% through the implementation of cost control measures based on zero based
budgeting. I am thus looking for an Accounts Executive position at ABC.
My name is _______. I can __________________________ [value you can add at the
organization] using my _____ [unique, relevant strength #1], ______ [unique, relevant strength
#2] and _______ [unique, relevant strength #3].
My achievements include _______ [unique, relevant achievement #1], ________ [unique,
relevant achievement #2] and _________ [unique, relevant achievement #3].
With _______ [title of last relevant degree] and __________ [certifications if any] I am looking
to serve your organization in a _________________ [job title] capacity.
My name is Arshad Kamal. I can help ABYZ Textiles save up to 15% in annual inventory costs
using my cost budgeting skills, prior shop floor costing work experience at ZXC Textiles and my
strong forecasting abilities. My achievements include my passing the ACA exams in the first
attempt, my publications in the LCCI newsletter on Cost Budgeting and my blog for aspiring
Accounting and Finance professionals. With an ACA and SAP certifications I am looking to serve
your organization in a Junior Finance Manager capacity.
EMPLOYER & INDUSTRY APPRAISAL QUESTIONNAIRE
Not every company or employer is the right one for you. You should assess every potential
employer before you choose one. By doing your research & being selective you demonstrate to
the employer that you are a serious candidate. You also save yourself many troubles later on
by avoiding those employers who do not match your needs. Here are some questions to think
about and ask before you apply:
1. What are the mission, vision and core values of the organization?
2. What career paths does the organization offer in the area of your interest?
3. What are the job titles, job descriptions and roles/responsibilities assigned to
employees in the career path you wish to pursue?
4. What are the salary scales, benefits and incentives offered by the organization?
5. Who are the key individuals working for the organization? What are their qualifications
6. What is the history of the organization?
7. What is the outlook for the industry the organization operates in?
8. What is the culture of the organization like?
9. What does it take to succeed and grow in the organization?
10. What physical facilities and environment does the organization offer to its employees?
11. What training and development opportunities are available to employees?
12. How secure do current employees feel in their jobs?
13. What is the average turnover rate and what are the reasons behind it?
14. How much autonomy is given to employees in terms of decision-making ability?
15. How are performance evaluations carried out?
16. What is the dress code in the organization?
17. What professional etiquette do the current employees display?
18. How much paid vacation time is given to employees?
19. What are the working hours of current employees?
20. Do employees demonstrate teamwork?
21. How is the organization informally divided into groups?
22. Are there any discrimination issues or cases of unfair management practices?
23. Are employees recognized for their performance? How?
24. What will you get to learn from your work at the organization?
25. How does the organization demonstrate that it values its employees?
26. What are the unspoken rules?
27. What happens when employees make mistakes?
28. What is a typical workweek like?
29. Why do employees work for the organization?
Remember there is no one stopping you from asking these questions before you apply. In
fact many employers will be impressed if you take the time to ask them.
30 COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND HOW TO ANSWER THEM
Please tell us about yourself.
Use your 30-second resume here.
“My name is Arshad Kamal. I can help ABYZ Textiles save up to 15% in annual inventory
costs using my cost budgeting skills, prior shop floor costing work experience at ZXC
Textiles and my strong forecasting abilities. My achievements include my clearing the ACA
exams in the first attempt, my publications in the LCCI newsletter on Cost Budgeting and
my blog for aspiring Accounting and Finance professionals. With an ACA and SAP
certifications I am looking to serve your organization in a Junior Finance Manager
What qualifies you for this position?
State relevant academic background and achievements. Demonstrate your passion to
work for the organization in question in the role for which you are applying.
“My ACA, my articles completed at SFDD Firm and my passion for making ABYZ Textiles
the most profitable textile mill in Pakistan qualify me for this position.”
Why have you applied for this job?
Talk about what you aim to do for the employer and how that fits into your career goal.
“ABYZ Textiles has a need to streamline its inventory management processes and derive
cost savings. My strengths in cost budgeting and forecasting will give ABYZ the
opportunity to save 15% in inventory costs while allowing me to use my abilities to the
Do you believe that you have achieved success / how would you know that you are
Review the job description and state measures of success given therein.
“I will consider myself successful when ABYZ Textiles saves 15% or more in annual
inventory costs due to my efforts.”
What are your career goals?
Use the career goal you have developed in the exercise given in this manual.
“My career goal is to become the lead cost budgeting specialist in the country.”
Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15, 20 years?
Instead of talking about job titles state the value you wish to be adding to an organization
and to the finance/accounting community.
“I see myself helping lead Pakistani textile sector’s global cost competitiveness through
better cost management.”
Why did you choose this career?
Passionately answer about the reasons for your choice.
“I chose it because I have excellent quantitative skills and forecasting abilities and this
career allows me to use my strengths for the benefits of my country’s industry.”
What did you learn from your last degree?
Talk about the topics, courses and projects, which match the most pressing needs of the
“I learned cost budgeting, inventory management, cash flow analysis all of which will be
extremely helpful in helping ABYZ save inventory costs.”
What do people who know you say about you?
Find keywords from the job description that match you.
“People who know me say that I am good with numbers, strategic in thinking and that my
IT skills are excellent.”
10. What are you looking for in an employer?
Answer with the strengths of the employer, where you are being interviewed, that you
find most appealing.
“I am looking for an employer who has a strong brand reputation in the local and
international markets and who is looking to increase revenues through better inventory
management like ABYZ Textiles.”
11. What do you know about this job or about our organization?
Demonstrate that you have done your research, talk about their problems and goals
which are the bases for this vacancy and how you can fill their gaps.
“I know that ABYZ is the leader in the bed-sheets category. Since the production of bedsheets is heavily dependent on large inventory stockpiles ABYZ has for the last three years
now been trying to improve its inventory financing methods and models. I am here to
help move these efforts in a new direction and achieve 15% or more cost savings.”
12. Where else have you applied and why?
Mention a maximum of two other names, if applicable, but quickly revert to the employer
where you are being interviewed and talk about their strengths and your passion for
working with them.
“I have applied at Nibr Industries and Trans-textiles but ABYZ is my first priority because
of its match with my expertise and due to its strong commitment towards cost
management for global export leadership.”
13. What have you done to improve yourself within the last two years?
Talk about your studies, past relevant work projects, extra curricular activities, and
participation in seminars, workshops, community projects and travels if any. Make sure
you mention only those, which are relevant to the job.
“I have volunteered for managing the finances at my local community club, I regularly
attend career development workshops offered by ICAP and I manage my personal Finance
14. What salary are you looking for?
Say that you are flexible, you trust the employer to give you a market competitive package
and that you are interested more in learning and in making a positive contribution to the
“The opportunity to improve global competitiveness for ABYZ is more important than
money but at the same time I trust ABYZ will live up to its market reputation and offer me
a market competitive package.”
15. How long do you plan on working for our organization?
Say you have no current intention to switch because you have done your research and
your assessment of the employer is positive.
“I have no current intentions to leave as I have researched ABYZ well and I have selected
16. What is your approach towards work?
Find keywords from the job description. Your employer appraisal will also help you in
understanding the work culture of the organization.
“I am meticulous, deadline conscious and I work well in a diverse team.”
17. Why should we hire you?
In a couple of sentences give them your unique selling proposition. Use your 30-second
resume for guidance. Tell them what is unique about you and how that strength can help
them fix their problems or achieve their goals.
“Because better budgeting for inventory management is a potential area of improvement
for ABYZ and my unique combination of strong academics background and prior work
experience in the area make me the best candidate for this position. I can help ABYZ save
15% of annual inventory costs or roughly more than 10 million rupees in the first two
18. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Mention relevant strengths and irrelevant weaknesses.
“My strengths are my strong cost budgeting skills and my weakness has always been
19. Who was the worst boss you have ever had? How did you deal with him/her?
Never badmouth anyone in an interview.
“I have fortunately always had the best superiors who have mentored me for success.”
20. What are your achievements and why do you value them?
State your relevant achievements and relate them to the needs of the employer.
“I received a distinction in Cost Accounting. My excellent academic record demonstrates
my knowledge and skills which will help me save 15% costs for ABYZ.”
21. What is your dream job or what are you looking for in a job?
The job that you are applying for should be [to the employer] your dream job.
“This is my dream job as it will allow me to utilize my strengths in Cost Accounting.”
22. What irritates you about other people?
Again, don’t badmouth other people.
“I enjoy working with all kinds of people.”
23. What motivates you?
Be clear and specific about what does.
“The opportunity to add to organizational knowledge, the chance to help team members
learn and trust in my abilities which encourages me to innovate.”
24. What are/were your extracurricular activities?
State your relevant achievements and highlight the strengths they demonstrate.
“I was the treasurer of the Student Drama Club, which demonstrates my ability to make
strategic financial decisions.”
25. What kind of people do you enjoy working with?
Use your employer appraisal to answer this question. To the employer you must love
working with the kind of people who work at the organization where you are applying.
“I know that ABYZ hires only dedicated and innovative people. Those are the kind of
individuals I love to work with.”
26. Would you be willing to relocate or travel?
Be honest. Know your limitations.
“Yes but only 50% of the time.”
27. What qualities do you look for in a boss?
Your boss is your portal for learning.
“Some one who guides me and gives me the opportunity to learn by doing.”
28. Behavior Based Questions such as: What has been your biggest failure and what did you
learn from it? What have been your biggest responsibilities and how did you deal with
them? What are the most difficult decisions you have made so far and why?
Have an incident ready from your past. Behavior based questions often flow from
keywords given in the job description. Use the SOARA [situation, objectives, action, results,
aftermath] approach for answering them.
“My biggest responsibility was managing the production budget for ZXC Textile which was
to the tune of Rs. 5 million. Our objective was to save 10% in inventory costs. I eliminated
budget redundancies and saved 12% in the first year. As a result the company gained over
29. Can you give anybody’s reference?
Be careful in terms of giving references. Some organizations like them, others don’t. Also
keep in mind whether your referee is well liked or not.
“Although my work is my best reference I do know the Chief Marketing Officer at ABYZ
and she can vouch for my abilities.”
30. Do you have any questions for us?
Definitely ask questions. Good questions to ask are given in the section below.
QUESTIONS TO ASK THE INTERVIEWER
Asking questions demonstrates that you can think, that you are serious about your career and
wise in making decisions. Here are some good questions you can ask your interviewer at the
end of an interview when given the opportunity.
How is exceptional performance rewarded at your organization?
What learning and development opportunities will I get?
What will be my three biggest goals for the first year?
How can I help my immediate supervisor achieve his or her goals?
What is the biggest headache I can take away from my supervisor?
What is the culture at your organization like?
Why do you enjoy working here?
What perks will I get?
How many leaves will I get?
Will I have to come in at 9 am every single day?
What does your company do?
Will I have to dress up formally?
I hope the workload here is not too much, is it?
When was your organization started?
KEY ECONOMIC DATA SOURCES
Updated information is available at the following sites. Please check them when preparing for
1. Pakistan Economic Survey 2009-10, Ministry of Finance
Find detailed information on the state of the economy, growth and investment, economic and
social indicators and much more.
2. Annual Report 2010-11 [State of the Economy], State Bank of Pakistan
Go through year by year annual reports which look at aggregrate data such as supply, demand,
inflation, fiscal and monetary policies as well as sector studies.
3. Annual Plan 2011-12, Planning Commission, Government of Pakistan
Read year by year annual plans which include goals for the years along with details of timelines
and financial and other resources.
4. Pakistan Bureau of Statistics
This houses extensive sets of statistics on foreign trade, the labor force, national accounts,
social and living standards, population welfare and prices amongst many others.
GUIDE TO PROPER INTERVIEW ATTIRE
Some people believe that the first 15 seconds in an interview seal your fate. How you look is an
important part in your selection process. Below are some good rules to play by:
1. Wear a two piece suit
2. Choose conservative colors in the
blue, grey family.
3. Avoid colors like pink, peach & green
4. Make sure all clothes are clean
5. Press your clothes so that they have
one crease only, if needed
6. Wear a white or light blue full sleeves
7. Put on dark socks
8. Wear black comfortable shoes with
9. Wear a belt, which matches the color
of your shoes. A black leather belt
with a conservative buckle is best.
10. Choose a medium width silk tie with
11. Shave well. Remove excess facial
12. Get a professional haircut.
13. Remove all forms of jewelry
14. Smell nice, but do not apply too
15. Wear a conservative watch
1. Wear a shalwar kameez in
conservative colors which match the
2. Make sure your clothes, especially
cotton clothes are well pressed
3. Avoid excessive make up
4. Choose makeup colors which are
5. Do not wear excess perfume
6. Find a pair of shoes which are
comfortable, give you height and
which match your clothes
7. Make sure your hair is not a
distraction for you or for your
8. Cut down on the jewelry. You should
not make noise when you walk.
9. Your nails should be clean and of
medium to short length
10. Choose conservative nail polish
11. Carry a small purse if you need to.
Match it with your shoes.
12. Choose the right conservative fit for
13. Wear a watch which is not flashy
14. Clean your accessories with a wipe
15. Keep yourself warm in the winter,
choose clothes appropriately
CHECK LIST FOR THE NIGHT BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
I have thoroughly researched the organization and industry
My resume and covering letter are updated and neatly printed out
My clothes are ready and pressed
I know the directions to the place of the interview
I have practiced my 30 sec. resume and I know my unique selling proposition
I have been through mock interviews
I have packed all my relevant original transcripts
I have set multiple alarms for the morning
I believe I can do this!
To test your preparation for the interview answer the following questions:
1. What are the mission, vision and core values of the organization?
2. What does the organization do for its customers?
3. What is the organization’s unique competitive advantage?
4. Why are they hiring for this position?
5. What are the ten most important keywords from the job ad or job description?
6. What are the major trends in the industry / sector in which the organization operates?
7. Has the organization been in the news recently? For what?
8. What can you do for them to help the organization make or save money or provide an
internal or external service?
B. DURING THE INTERVIEW
INTERVIEW DO’S AND DON’TS
1. Be thoroughly prepared
2. Arrive 20 minutes early
3. Be nice to everyone at the
4. Smile, be confident and offer firm
5. Listen carefully
6. Sit up, maintain stable and correct
7. State the truth and be yourself
8. Observe the workplace for cues
9. Be passionate about your career
10. Do accept tea, coffee or juice if
11. Be likeable
12. Remember the interviewer’s name
and use it
13. Maintain good eye contact with all
14. Ask the interviewer to repeat a
question if you don’t understand it
15. Write a thank you letter the same
16. Act professionally
17. Demonstrate that you have a clear
18. Pause and think before you answer
19. Bring along spare copies of your
20. Sell yourself with complete faith
1. Treat the interview or interviewer as
if they are not important
2. Come across as greedy
3. Seem desperate
4. Be negative
5. Take calls during the interview or
keep your phone on loud
6. Take friends and family with you
7. Chew gum
8. Be arrogant
9. Talk endlessly without understanding
what is being asked
10. Drop names
11. Give excuses for pas t failures
13. Be unsure about which position you
are interested in
14. Smoke before or during the interview
15. Slouch or fiddle
16. Talk about your personal life and
17. Crack rude or vulgar jokes
18. Bring up sensitive topics like politics
19. Use ‘ahhh’ and ‘umm’s
20. Use flattery
IN-INTERVIEW BODY LANGUAGE GUIDE
Remember these simple tips which will give you confidence and leave a good impression:
1. Sit with your lower back straight and firmly fixed with the chair
2. Plant both feet solidly on the ground
3. Keep your chin up & shoulders back
4. Maintain good eye contact
5. Don’t cross your arms or legs
6. Don’t touch your face
Pictures Sources: http://sanjeevnanda.wordpress.com/category/career/interview/ http://www.karatebyjesse.com/?p=11778
C. CASE STUDIES
PREPARATION FOR AN INTERVIEW
Yasin and Abid were conducting interviews for an internship position. Ten candidates were
scheduled to come in at 12 noon. Both made their way to the conference room at 11.45 am to
make sure that everything was set up. Their department badly needed interns to cope with the
seasonal boom in work.
At 12.30 pm the first candidate showed up. She was immediately showed in. When asked to
tell the interviewers about herself she started with her troubled childhood, moving on to her
family and ended 7 minutes later with her pet cats. Yasin and Abid listened patiently, as on
paper she seemed to be a bright girl. Maybe she was having a bad day. When they asked her
what she knew about the company she said, “It did something in the oil and gas sector”. The
next question was about her strengths and weaknesses. She said that her weakness was that
“She could not concentrate for very long and that her strength was that she liked sleeping a
lot.” The interviewers asked her if she had any questions for them. She asked, “Will I have to do
a lot of work here?”
What mistakes did the candidate make? Do you think she got hired?
AVAILABILITY FOR AN INTERVIEW
The last week had been fun for Arsalan. Right after his exams he had gone to Kaghan with his
friends for a much needed break. When he checked his email after a week he saw an interview
call from his dream employer. His cell phone, which he had left behind, also had several missed
calls from a new number. He decided to reply to the email and tell the company that he would
be available for an interview the following week because he had his cousin’s wedding coming
up. The HR manager said that “That they would get back to him.” Arsalan felt happy that now
he could enjoy the wedding without having to worry about the interview.
Did Arsalan do the right thing? Do you think the HR Manager will call back?
ACING THE BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEW
Have a story for every skill.
By Jeanne Knight. Source: The Ladders.com
"The most accurate predictor of future performance is past performance in a similar situation."
This statement is the premise behind behavioral interviewing, an interviewing technique
created in the 1970s by industrial psychologists. This style of interview is becoming popular
with employers, and it can be a challenging experience.
You're likely to face the technique on job interviews and you should be prepared to confront it
the right way.
Traditional interviewing calls upon the candidate to state opinions: "Tell me about yourself."
"What are your strengths and weaknesses?" "Why do you want to work for this company?" By
contrast, behavioral interviewing requires job candidates to relate stories about how they
handled challenges related to the skill sets the company requires for the position.
For example, if a job requires strong communication and team-building skills, an interviewer
might ask candidates to recount past experiences where they explained new plans that
brought a team together. Behavioral interview questions often start with phrases like, "Tell me
about a time when ..." or "Describe a situation in which ... " or "Give me an example of ..."
While your skills and experiences could be a perfect match for the position, you could lose out
if you can't validate them with relevant anecdotes.
So how do you prepare for a behavioral interview?
First, you'll want to put yourself in the shoes of the employer and imagine what the ideal
candidate for the position would answer from the interviewer's perspective.
Then, take the time to review thoroughly the job description and research the company and its
culture. Look for cues about skills necessary for the job and valued by the organization. Next,
think about the sorts of behavioral questions an interviewer might ask to determine those
Here are a few examples of skill sets and some behaviorally focused interview questions aimed
at surfacing them.
Decision Making and Problem Solving
• Describe a situation in which you used good judgment and logic to solve a problem.
• Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision.
• Have you ever had trouble getting others to agree with your ideas? How did you deal
with the situation, and were you successful?
• Describe the most challenging group from which you've had to gain cooperation.
• Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty.
• Give me an example of a situation in which you positively influenced the actions of
• Describe a situation in which you were able to communicate with another individual
who did not personally like you (or vice versa).
• Describe a time you had to use written communication to convey an important
argument or idea.
• Give me examples of what you've done in the past to nurture teamwork.
• Give an example of an unpopular decision you've made, what the result was and how
you managed it.
Planning and Organization
• When scheduling your time, what method do you use to decide which items are
• Describe how you've handled a sudden interruption to your schedule.
Once you've determined which behavioral-based questions you might be asked during an
interview, look back on your past experiences and develop stories to answer those questions.
Your stories should be detailed yet succinct, and they should always include the following three
1. A description of a specific, real-life situation or challenge you encountered.
2. A description of the specific tasks and actions you took to overcome that challenge.
3. A summary of the results of those actions. (Try to quantify these results whenever
Here is a sample answer to a behavioral interview question that incorporates each of these
Question: Give an example of a goal you reached, and tell me how you achieved
Answer: Due to cuts in funding to our adult continuing education program, we
faced the daunting goal of drastically reducing our promotional budget without
sacrificing our media presence in the community. As program director, I
researched alternatives to the effective, yet costly, course brochure, which was
produced and distributed biannually to about 60,000 residents of our service
region. I was able to negotiate with two local newspapers to produce and
distribute a new course brochure that increased distribution by 33 percent, to
80,000 residents, and decreased costs by 50 percent.
Familiarizing yourself with the behavioral interview style, crafting and practicing your stories
and doing some homework on the position you seek will ensure that you won't be caught off
guard should you encounter a behavioral interview.
10 TIPS TO BOOST YOUR INTERVIEW SKILLS
By Carole Martin, Monster Contributing Writer
Even the smartest and most qualified job seekers need to prepare for job interviews. Why, you
ask? Interviewing is a learned skill, and there are no second chances to make a great first
impression. So study these 10 strategies to enhance your interview skills.
Practice Good Nonverbal Communication
It's about demonstrating confidence: standing straight, making eye contact and connecting
with a good, firm handshake. That first nonverbal impression can be a great beginning -- or
quick ending -- to your interview.
Dress for the Job or Company
Today's casual dress codes do not give you permission to dress as "they" do when you
interview. It is important to know what to wear to an interview and to be well groomed.
Whether you wear a suit or something less formal depends on the company culture and the
position you are seeking. If possible, call to find out about the company dress code before the
From the very beginning of the interview, your interviewer is giving you information, either
directly or indirectly. If you are not hearing it, you are missing a major opportunity. Good
communication skills include listening and letting the person know you heard what was said.
Observe your interviewer, and match that style and pace.
Don't Talk Too Much
Telling the interviewer more than he needs to know could be a fatal mistake. When you have
not prepared ahead of time, you may ramble when answering interview questions, sometimes
talking yourself right out of the job. Prepare for the interview by reading through the job
posting, matching your skills with the position's requirements and relating only that
Don't Be Too Familiar
The interview is a professional meeting to talk business. This is not about making a new friend.
Your level of familiarity should mimic the interviewer's demeanor. It is important to bring
energy and enthusiasm to the interview and to ask questions, but do not overstep your place
as a candidate looking for a job.
Use Appropriate Language
It's a given that you should use professional language during the interview. Be aware of any
inappropriate slang words or references to age, race, religion, politics or sexual orientation -these topics could send you out the door very quickly.
Don't Be Cocky
Attitude plays a key role in your interview success. There is a fine balance between confidence,
professionalism and modesty. Even if you're putting on a performance to demonstrate your
ability, overconfidence is as bad, if not worse, as being too reserved.
Take Care to Answer the Questions
When interviewers ask for an example of a time when you did something, they are asking
behavioral interview questions, which are designed to elicit a sample of your past behavior. If
you fail to relate a specific example, you not only don't answer the question, but you also miss
an opportunity to prove your ability and talk about your skills.
When asked if they have any questions, most candidates answer, "No." Wrong answer. Part of
knowing how to interview is being ready to ask questions that demonstrate an interest in what
goes on in the company. Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to find out if this is
the right place for you. The best questions come from listening to what you're asked during the
interview and asking for additional information.
Don't Appear Desperate
When you interview with the "please, please hire me" approach, you appear desperate and
less confident. Maintain the three Cs during the interview: cool, calm and confident. You know
you can do the job; make sure the interviewer believes you can, too.
INTERVIEW COMEDIAN CANDIDATES
Amusing Anecdotes from the Field
By Roberta Chinsky Matuson, Monster Contributing Writer
You say you've heard it all. Well, here are some unexpected (and amusing) answers given by
candidates during the interview process. We couldn't have made these up if we tried.
I recently needed to call an applicant to inform him he was not eligible for employment with us
because his drug test was positive. He called me back 10 minutes later and said, "If I study real
hard, can I come back in two weeks and take the test again?"
Do You Mean That Literally?
One of the questions we ask when interviewing someone is, "What brought you to our
company?" By this we mean motivation. I had a guy look at answer, and me "Oh, I drove
That's Not the Kind of Material We Mean
A little old lady came in one time to apply for an ad we had run for a material handler. I asked
her what she thought her qualifications were for this position. She responded that she had
been sewing for 40 years!
Ever Heard of a Computer?
We recently asked an applicant to give us an example of how he would cut and paste
something in MS Word. We were trying to gauge his knowledge of the software. He replied,
"Using scissors and glue." Next!
Quite the Rap Sheet
In reference to the employment application question, "Have you ever been convicted of a
felony? If so, please state the circumstances," an applicant looked puzzled. He turned over the
application to see if there was more room to write on the back, and said, "You only want the
felonies?" This was for a banking position. Needless to say, he didn't get hired.
Putting the Right Spin on Experience
Interview question: "Have you had any jobs since high school?"
Answer: "I recycle metal I find along the highway."
Two days later, the interviewee was arrested for stealing tractors. Technically, I guess you
could say he was recycling metal from along the highway.