We all know the job search can be truly brutal, and it is hard not to get discouraged when waiting for a call back on submitted resumes and applications. When you do finally hear back it is vital that you quickly jump to the next step. What is that step? Preparation. Aside from the resume or application, the job interview is your first chance at displaying your skills and qualities as they relate to the position applied for. It would be a mistake not to take the time to prepare when given the opportunity to have an interview with a company you’re interested in working for. Author Raymond B. Bogardus provides readers with a systematic breakdown on how to prepare for an interview in his book “How to Win Every Interview.” The step-by-step process on how to prepare for the interview along with his tried and true interview tips and tricks make the interview process seem much more manageable.
Plan to win
In his book Bogardus begins by stressing the importance of having a plan for each aspect of the interview. From preparation to dress, to the interview itself, there are many details that need to be worked out ahead of time. In the outlining of each element of the interview process, he warns of the need for hard work when ensuring a successful interview. There is no easy way to achieve a successful interview as many may have already discovered. By following Bogardus’ advice for preparation, you will be much closer to the goal of gainful employment.
The first step in preparing for an interview is learning as much as possible about the potential employer. Before beginning the research process, Bogardus suggests writing up a brief plan for research. It should consist of three small paragraphs outlining what you would like to learn about the company, what sources you will consult, and a schedule for doing said research. Once this is laid out, research may begin.
Viewing the company web site is a great start. There you will likely find an annual report and a company profile or mission statement. This information however may be somewhat biased. To research even further, Bogardus suggests visiting the local university library. To save time and learn as much as possible in the time allowed, ask the librarian for assistance. He or she should be able to point you in the direction of exactly what you need to learn this vital information. Another resource option is the company’s HR department. They may be able to offer a little more information about the position and what the company looks for in an employee.
This research will shed light on the company’s past, growth, goals, and culture. It will help in forming questions for the interview and in deciding if it is a worthy employer. Any information not retained in research can be included in questions asked during the interview itself.
After finding out more about the company it is time to find out more about you. A week or more before the interview is time to start thinking about why you want the job. After careful consideration, decide the three best reasons why the company should hire you and share those during the interview.
Develop questions that interviewers may ask and draft up well-thought-out answers for each. To find a list of commonly asked interview questions, visit http://www.avjobs.com/interviews/interview-general-questions.asp. In addition to developing answers to questions that you may be asked, create a list of your own questions to ask of the interviewer. Remember, you are also interviewing the company at the same time they are interviewing you.
Rehearsal is key
Once the interview questions are drafted and the answers are decided, an interview rehearsal should follow. Bogardus suggests doing a few rehearsals, starting with one alone in front of a mirror. He explains that the mirror can show you how professional your appearance and conduct may be during the interview. “It’s facial expressions, and it’s the attitude. Do you hold your head up? Do you tend to look down? Do you slouch? Those things show up when you look at yourself.” The initial interview rehearsal should be followed by a few rehearsal interviews with a close friend or family member, and a dress rehearsal as well.
In deciding what to wear for the interview, try to dress similar to how the interviewer dresses. Not a psychic and don’t feel like breaking into your potential future employer’s closet? The next best suggestion is to dress professionally and conservatively. It is not the time to try out a new style, and dressing too well is always better than not dressing well enough.
In addition to preparing questions and answers, and conducting rehearsals, it is important that the travel plans for the interview are well thought out and planned ahead of time. Bogardus suggests arriving at the city where the interview is located the evening before. He warns that there are too many risks when traveling the day of the interview. Besides, the day of the interview shouldn’t be spent worrying about traffic or flight delays.
The day before the interview should be spent reviewing interview notes and questions, wardrobe, and directions or maps.
So after all of the hard work, the day has finally arrived. On the day of the interview the most important detail is arriving on time. Eat a light breakfast and head out early.
Bogardus swears that rehearsal is the key to being confident in an interview. “If people have rehearsed and are prepared they are a lot more confident and have the attitude that they are going to win the interview. They come across not as arrogant but as prepared and confident, and someone that you believe could do the job. I think that the biggest mistake is not taking it seriously enough, thinking that they can wing it or simply not knowing that they need to do a lot of preparation.”
It is time to be confident. You have prepared and are ready for this. The job search can be discouraging, and if this isn’t the first interview it may be even more discouraging, but still you must hold your head up high and exude the kind of confidence that makes others think they need what you have to offer.
“Not everyone has that kind of confidence that you would like to have at that point. I think a lot of it has to do with No. 1 convincing yourself that this is a job you really want, and No. 2 that you are indeed qualified to do the job,” explains Bogardus.
Upon entering the building, greet the receptionist or secretary in a friendly and respectful manner. Chances are they will be questioned later on their impression of you.
While in the interview maintain eye contact and good posture. Throughout the interview try to incorporate the previously decided three reasons why you deserve and are qualified for this job into your answers. You have hopefully prepared by thinking of potential questions you will be asked. When answering these questions take your time and do not rush through answers. It is important though that answers do not turn into rambling. It is OK to tell a story or two, but keep them focused and relevant.
Bogardus warns, “The war stories need to be relevant to the job and you can’t tell too many, or it begins to look like all you have is past experiences and no current experience. I would make any war stories as current as possible in your chronological history, and I would try to make them as relevant as possible to the job.”
Placing blame on a past employer or coworker should also be avoided in an interview. When asked about a past boss Bogardus suggests saying the following: “Every job brings new experiences. I have learned from the jobs that I thought were fun and went well, and I have probably learned just as much or more from the jobs that didn’t go as well.”
Throughout the interview it’s important that even as tough questions arise and your qualifications come into question that the urge to talk yourself up with exaggerations or lies is met with honesty. It is typical procedure that following an interview the HR department will verify information provided on the resume and in the interview. If a lie is uncovered it will more often than not result in termination or a scar on your reputation within that company. At the same time, you don’t want to be hired for a job that you are not qualified for and almost guarantee you will not succeed, leaving another blemish on a resume.
Closing the interview can be an awkward moment. You may feel the need to say more, but it is best to just thank them for the interview and briefly state what makes you qualified for the position. As soon as possible after the interview send a thank you note to anyone who was involved. Try to include something unique to your conversation with that person so it does not look like a generic attempt. It may even be a good idea to send a note to the receptionist thanking her for being helpful when directing you to your interview.
In a perfect world we will always have the time to prepare for every interview. Unfortunately we do not live in that perfect world and sometimes an interview is sprung on us so suddenly we have to cut corners. While cutting corners is not suggested if we have sufficient time to prepare, there is a way to do it. Bogardus suggests that when you only have a few hours or a day to prepare, focus on the three reasons why you are the right person for the job and conduct at least one dress rehearsal.
“How to Win Every Interview” by Raymond B. Bogardus is available at amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com. Another great resource for aviation professionals is Avjobs.com. It offers a monthly or annual subscription service which offers access to job postings, resume and cover letter assistance, and interactive interview practice. Non-subscribers can also access helpful information on interview tactics and more. There are many resources out there; all that is needed is a lot of preparation.