How to Ace Your Job Interview


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This is the slide presentation from the last session in a four part series for job seekers. This session is all about perfecting the job interview.

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  • Keep it to one page, go to two only if your experience warrants. Use bullets, not paragraphs.
  • Have at least two colleagues proofread and edit your résumé, preferably friends whom you know to be intelligent and possess a professional manner, in the same industry if possible.
  • If you use a cover letter, learn your grammar rules and spelling rules and make certain you use them! One grammar or spelling error may result in your résumé being tossed.
  • Include your email address – use wisdom in your email address selection. Yahoo and other ISP providers have free email service, get a professional email account.
  • Make sure your personal contact information is current and accurate. Never cross out and hand-write on the résumé.
  • Never lie on your résumé, do not stretch dates, do not overstate educational background.
  • Please, no excessive inflation. Your prior work history at the Ray Kroc Industries corporation as a “Customer Service Associate” does not mask the fact that you were a cashier at McDonald’s, which is nothing to hide or be ashamed of.
  • If the wording says “5 years experience mandatory” and you have only 2 years, do not respond to this ad “just in case they really didn’t mean mandatory.” Follow the application instructions carefully (ie: if ad reads “fax résumé to HR Manager”, make sure your cover sheet is appropriately addressed. If the ad reads “no phone calls”, then do not call this employer.)
  • If in doubt, email your attachments to a friend. Have them critique the result. To load a free PDF conversion tool, visit cutepdf
  • Research the employer as much as possible
  • In a practice session at home, put on your interview outfit. Sit down in front of a mirror to make certain your outfit looks as flattering on you while seated as it does while you’re standing up.
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before. Red eyes and yawning distract from your answers and make me wonder if you’re serious about wanting a job.
  • Leave your book bag, large handbag, piles of documents, etc in the car. Unless you are presenting a computer presentation or demonstrating a personal portfolio, there is no need to bring your laptop or briefcase in. Take only what will be absolutely necessary during the course of your appointment.
  • be courteous to everyone you encounter (from receptionists to secretaries). Some otherwise capable applicants have been rejected for how they treated a receptionist. Everyone matters.
  • While waiting for the interviewer, organize and calm your thoughts. Don’t place cell phone calls or make notes. Do remove overcoats or jackets; and sit up appearing prepared and professional.
  • Look them directly in the eyes while shaking hands.
  • Be alert, interested, attentive, responsive, and enthusiastic. Maintain good eye contact, but be conscious of the personal space of the interviewer. Refrain from nervous appearing habits (repetitive movements of hands, finger, legs, feet). This is simply a get to know you conversation between two people. RELAX. Remember that you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you.
  • Talk in plan, straightforward language. Don’t use slang words or trendy expressions, and never use offensive language of any kind. Use proper grammar and correct English pronunciations. Do not try to be impressive with obscure or large words. Never, ever make offensive jokes or try to brown-nose the interviewer with inflated compliments
  • TELL THE TRUTH always on your résumé, your application, and in the interview. Even what seems like an innocent white lie may harm your chances later or cause termination. Most employers do a thorough background check, and they will find out.
  • Answer questions concisely but do not give only one word answers. Explain when possible but be brief. Tell things only that relate to that situation, and do not ramble on and on. (if you are normally a rambler, practice with a friend to work on this before the interview). Stick to the topic at hand. Practice practice practice!
  • Relate your good points factually and sincerely. Remember you are selling yourself to the interviewer, explaining that you will fit well into this position and the company. Cite specific examples of successes such as promotions, recognition, awards, etc.
  • DO NOT make negative remarks about former bosses or companies. Employers would rather not hire the walking wounded and don’t want to hear trash talk. Deal with your bitterness/anger/issues somewhere else, not in the interview room, and please don’t cry when you explain how bad your last job was.
  • If asked a leading and perhaps inappropriate question such as “tell me about your family”, generalize the response with a good answer which reveals nothing it shouldn’t.
  • DO NOT ask about salary, bonus, benefits or time off in the initial interview. If the interviewer brings up salary, indicate that the company and position are more important than initial salary alone. “ I’m really negotiable.” “ I am flexible. I’m looking for the right overall opportunity.”
  • If, during the course of the interview, it becomes very apparent that this job is not what you are interested in (for example, it requires 75% travel and you are not willing to travel) go ahead and state that it sounds like the job may not be suited to your current job search. Do not continue taking the interviewer’s time if you know you are not interested in being considered.
  • If you are interested in the position, say so. If the situation calls for it, ask for the job on the spot or for the next interview. If made an offer for the position and you want it, accept the job on the spot. If you need time to consider or discuss the offer, be courteous and tactful in asking for the time (“the offer sounds wonderful, may I call you tomorrow?”).
  • Thank the interviewer for their time, and ask about their follow up procedure (should you call, should you expect an email, etc). As soon as you get home, send a written thank you note immediately, and respond with anything you were asked to provide (such as other reference). Be careful about posting online comments about interviews or job offers. You never know where they go.
  • How to Ace Your Job Interview

    1. 1. Welcome to Life Skills Tuesdays, a ministry outreach of New Beginnings United Methodist Church Ace The Job Interview
    2. 2. <ul><li>Nanci Lamborn, SPHR </li></ul><ul><li>Senior Professional in Human Resources </li></ul><ul><li>20 years Insurance Industry Personnel Management </li></ul><ul><li>Global Financial Software Company Generalist </li></ul><ul><li>Published Freelance Writer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Careerbuilder’s Workbuzz </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> jobs column </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>National Underwriter Magazine </li></ul></ul>
    3. 4. RESUME REMINDERS: Keep it SHORT <ul><ul><li>I was responsible for processing payroll, entering time sheet hours, tracking attendance, figuring overtime and calculating bonus payments. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Payroll administration; Time / attendance documentation. </li></ul></ul>
    4. 5. RESUME TIP: PROOFREAD! <ul><ul><li>Executive compensation admininstration. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Responsible for processing there audits. </li></ul></ul>
    5. 6. RESUME TIP: PROOFREAD! <ul><ul><li>I am extremely task oriented and I greatly enjoying a challenge. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I attended Vanderbilt University. Where I majored in Political Science. </li></ul></ul>
    6. 7. RESUME TIP: EMAIL CHOICE <ul><ul><li>Do NOT use “” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Or “” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Check your email EVERY day, and check your spam/junk folders as well. </li></ul></ul>
    7. 8. RESUME TIP: Current data <ul><li>Make sure your personal contact information is current and accurate. Never cross out and hand-write on the résumé. </li></ul>
    8. 9. RESUME TIP: DO NOT LIE! <ul><ul><li>Bachelor of Science in Finance coursework completed; expected 2012 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Master of Business Administration program studies </li></ul></ul>
    9. 10. RESUME TIP: KEEP IT REAL <ul><li>Ray Kroc Industries Customer Service Associate </li></ul><ul><li>McDonald’s Restaurants Cashier </li></ul>
    10. 11. Responding to the job ad: read carefully! <ul><li>Abide by their requirements. </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure you’re a fit. </li></ul><ul><li>Abide by the instructions given. </li></ul>
    11. 12. RESUME TIP: Submit in .doc or .pdf <ul><li>Send resumes as attachments if permitted. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not use Microsoft Works or generic .txt format unless specifically requested. </li></ul><ul><li> free pdf writer </li></ul>
    12. 13. Headhunter agency or recruiter? USE CAUTION <ul><li>Confirm the job is for an active and real posting before agreeing to interviews. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask about any fee requirements. </li></ul><ul><li>Job seekers should never pay fees. No exceptions. </li></ul>
    13. 14. INTERVIEW PREPARATION: Read up! <ul><ul><li>Read their website thoroughly. Find out as much as you can about what they do. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Look for industry publications, public news articles, or stock data. </li></ul></ul>
    14. 15. INTERVIEW PREPARATION: Drive up! <ul><li>Take a test drive to the location, at the same time as your interview if possible, to plan for traffic and ensure that you know exactly where you’re going </li></ul>
    15. 16. INTERVIEW PREPARATION: Ask questions! <ul><li>From your research, start developing a list of questions to ask about the company. Take this list with you. </li></ul>
    16. 17. INTERVIEW PREPARATION: Practice-Practice-Practice! <ul><li>Practice asking and answering interview questions to a friend or to yourself in the mirror several times. </li></ul>
    17. 18. INTERVIEW PREPARATION: Hone up your skills! <ul><li>If there is a chance you may be asked to perform pre-hire testing skills such as a typing test, brush up on this skill so you’re confident you’re at your best. </li></ul><ul><li>Search for online free testing. </li></ul>
    18. 19. INTERVIEW DAY: Rest up! <ul><li>Plan the entire pre-interview day around your requirement to get to sleep early. </li></ul><ul><li>Review your research on the job and the employer before bed. Sleep helps cement facts. </li></ul>
    19. 20. INTERVIEW DAY: Dress up! <ul><li>Contrary to popular current belief, business casual is not always the best choice. </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure your clothing is pressed, that it fits properly, and is modest and professional. </li></ul><ul><li>Do not ask what they expect you to wear. Always over-assume. </li></ul>
    20. 21. INTERVIEW DAY: Give it up (smoking)! <ul><li>If you smoke, you lose $2,000 a year or more on cigarettes. </li></ul><ul><li>If you smoke, others will smell it; many find it offensive. </li></ul><ul><li>So QUIT. Consider it part of your new life with your new job. </li></ul>
    21. 22. INTERVIEW DAY: Give it up (perfume/cologne)! <ul><li>Everyone doesn’t love your fragrance as you do. </li></ul><ul><li>Many people have allergies. </li></ul><ul><li>Stick to a good anti-perspirant deodorant. </li></ul><ul><li>This goes for on-the-job as well. </li></ul>
    22. 23. INTERVIEW DAY: Freshen up (on your resume)! <ul><li>Review your resume for content </li></ul><ul><li>Refresh your memory </li></ul><ul><li>Look for potential areas of question or concern </li></ul><ul><li>Take a more current version along if new data is added </li></ul>
    23. 24. INTERVIEW DAY: Lock it up (personal items)! <ul><li>Absolute essentials only! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Single folio with resume, questions, reference only. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Remove notes from other appointments. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No purse, handbag, backpack. </li></ul></ul>
    24. 25. INTERVIEW DAY: Hang it up (cellphones)! <ul><li>Leave all phones, pagers, and media devices in your car. </li></ul><ul><li>Turn off watch alarms. </li></ul>
    25. 26. INTERVIEW DAY: Speak up (with courtesy!) <ul><li>Every single person matters </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Receptionist </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Secretaries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Elevator riders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parking lot walkers </li></ul></ul>
    26. 27. INTERVIEW DAY: Fill it out (application forms)! <ul><li>The application is an official form </li></ul><ul><li>Used for background checks </li></ul><ul><li>Must be 100% accurate and true </li></ul><ul><li>Never write “see resume” and do not ask if you may do so. </li></ul>
    27. 28. INTERVIEW DAY: Make good use of waiting time! <ul><li>Politely chat with receptionist </li></ul><ul><li>Review your notes and questions </li></ul><ul><li>Read lobby literature </li></ul><ul><li>Use positive mental imagery </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“I can see myself coming to work here every day” </li></ul></ul>
    28. 29. INTERVIEW DAY: No cheerleaders or children! <ul><li>Never bring another person to an interview unless asked to do so. </li></ul><ul><li>If someone must drive you, they should wait in the car. </li></ul><ul><li>No exceptions. </li></ul>
    29. 30. INTERVIEW DAY: Shake it up and SMILE! <ul><li>Greet the interviewer warmly </li></ul><ul><li>Shake hands firmly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NO double pump </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NO two hand squeeze </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NO limp noodle fingers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PRACTICE </li></ul></ul>
    30. 31. INTERVIEW DAY: Keep up! <ul><li>Keep pace with your interviewer </li></ul><ul><li>Wait to be offered a seat. </li></ul><ul><li>Sit erectly, feet on the floor. </li></ul>
    31. 32. INTERVIEW DAY: Show up (engage)! <ul><li>Be alert, interested, responsive, and enthusiastic. </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain calm cool demeanor. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This is a get-acquainted time. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You’re interviewing them as well. So relax! </li></ul></ul>
    32. 33. INTERVIEW DAY: Don’t blow it up! (speech) <ul><li>Use plain, straightforward words. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid slang or trendy speech. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t over-inflate vocabulary. </li></ul><ul><li>Never ever use foul language or offensive words or jokes. </li></ul><ul><li>Cut the “ya know” and “like”. </li></ul>
    33. 34. INTERVIEW DAY: Don’t make it up (be truthful)! <ul><li>Application, resume and interview should all add up </li></ul><ul><li>Never say something just because you think it’s what they want to hear. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t overstate KSA’s. </li></ul>
    34. 35. INTERVIEW DAY: Talk it up (answers)! <ul><li>Concise answers, explain but be brief unless asked to expound. </li></ul><ul><li>No single word answers. </li></ul><ul><li>No rambling on. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>PRACTICE and PRACTICE again! </li></ul></ul>
    35. 36. INTERVIEW DAY: It’s okay to brag (a little!) <ul><li>Be factual, relevant and sincere </li></ul><ul><li>Cite specific examples </li></ul><ul><li>Do NOT fake humility. </li></ul>
    36. 37. INTERVIEW DAY: Clean it up (former job stories)! <ul><li>Never make negative remarks </li></ul><ul><li>Do not show any grudges </li></ul><ul><li>Generalize prior conflicts </li></ul>
    37. 38. INTERVIEW DAY: Zip it up (off limits subjects)! <ul><li>Medical history; family status; children; marital status; religion; politics. </li></ul><ul><li>“My family is great; they really support my career.” </li></ul>
    38. 39. INTERVIEW DAY: Zip it up (more off limits subjects)! <ul><li>Never ask salary or benefits. </li></ul><ul><li>You’re focused on opportunity. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“I’m really negotiable.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“I am flexible. I’m looking for the right overall opportunity.” </li></ul></ul>
    39. 40. INTERVIEW DAY: Chalk it up (if not for you)! <ul><li>Be transparent if the job is not for you. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask for clarification </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Would you mind if I asked you a little bit more about the travel requirements? Because I was actually looking for a position that travels very little and I want to make sure I’m the right fit for what you need in this position.” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ Could you elaborate on what the regular hours will be? I think you may have mentioned a 3 pm to 11 pm shift, and I was looking for a 7 am to 3 pm shift.” </li></ul></ul></ul>
    40. 41. INTERVIEW DAY: Speak up (ask for the job)! <ul><li>If you love what you hear, SAY SO! “This position sounds like it fits me perfectly and I would love to have the opportunity to prove that. I would be thrilled to be offered this position.” </li></ul>
    41. 42. INTERVIEW DAY: Speak up (take the job offer)! <ul><li>If offered the job on the spot and it feels like a good fit, ACCEPT IT. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“That sounds fantastic, I am thrilled to accept your offer. Should I look for that in writing as well?” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Get terms in writing. Always. </li></ul>
    42. 43. INTERVIEW DAY: Hold up (if unsure of an offer)! <ul><li>If you need to think, SAY SO! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“That sounds wonderful, would it be alright if I called you tomorrow?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t be afraid to negotiate, but be realistic. </li></ul></ul>
    43. 44. INTERVIEW DAY: Follow up! (Thanks) <ul><li>Ask what your next step is. </li></ul><ul><li>Send formal written thank-you’s to everyone you met. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Email ok; handwritten is better. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use caution in social media! </li></ul></ul>
    44. 45. AFTER THE INTERVIEW: Review how it went. <ul><li>If you messed up today, practice again and don’t repeat the error. </li></ul>
    45. 46. <ul><li>QUESTIONS? </li></ul>