Getting Hired: How to successfully prepare for the interview process
“Never wear a backward baseball cap to an interview unless applying for the job of umpire.” – Dan Zevin, humorist
While navigating the interview process, learning that you made it through the initial screening can be one of the greatest moments for a job seeker. But, it can also cause some anxiety about what to expect next.
Over the past two decades companies have been doing some really creative things to ensure that they are hiring the most qualified candidate, who is the best match for the job. From telephone to in-person to video interviews, the interview process can now involve many people and multiple steps before a candidate is hired.
Additionally, many companies are now using behavioral interview techniques to assess your skills, experience and how you work through real-life scenarios. Some companies even use various testing strategies for technical skills or personality assessments, depending on the position.
First, let’s start with the basics. What should you consider when scheduling your interview?
- Choose a time that ensures you will be able to arrive on time. If you are notoriously late in the morning, schedule an afternoon appointment.
- Ask the name or names, and titles, of the persons who will interview you. Ask for proper spellings so that you can send thank you notes after the interview.
- Ask about what type of interview it will be – telephone, in-person, panel or video. Use this information to help you set the stage in your mind.
- Ask about the company’s business dress policy – is it a formal or casual environment? Plan your outfit appropriately.
Also, be aware that in many cases candidates will have more than one interview. So, do not be alarmed if you are asked to come back to meet with additional interviewers.
How to prepare for the interview
Because many companies are using behavioral interview techniques, you’ll need to do a bit of homework ahead of your interview. You need to be prepared to answer specific questions about your accomplishments so that you can prove that you’re the best candidate for the job. Here are some tips:
- Learn everything you can about the company, its history, values and strategic goals. Find ways to weave references into your conversation to relate your personal and professional values and goals to the company’s values and goals.
- Learn everything you can about the specific job for which you’ll be interviewed. Be prepared to provide detailed examples of how your background and experience have prepared you for this job. Review your resume and application, as well as any other performance documents you may have, for ideas.
- Bring notecards or a notepad with a list of concrete examples that demonstrate your skills, abilities and experience. You can refer to this list during questions so that you remember all of the details, such as the nature of the scenario, your solution, your accomplishment, who was involved, your role, and a description of what you did and the final outcome. For college students with less experience, consider examples of leadership roles you’ve held in campus organizations/clubs. You can relate your experience in these roles to those required in the job.
- Bring a list of questions with you. For example, you might want to ask about the expectations of the position, key challenges facing the organization and details about how success will be measured in this job function. Also, remember to ask what the next steps are in the hiring process.
- Allow yourself time to think. During the interview, it’s okay to take a moment to formulate your answer. You do not have to respond the instant a question has been asked. Some silence is okay.
- Practice, practice, practice! Ahead of your interview, visit the Career Services office on campus and request a mock interview. This will help you prepare your answers to questions and learn how to think on your feet. If you can’t schedule a formal practice session, ask a friend to interview you for the job.
Understand the types of interviews
Here is a quick summary of the various types of interviews and tips for your success in each setting:
- It is important to treat this interview as you would treat any other interview – be cognizant of your speech and tone of voice. Because the interviewer cannot see you, you need to articulate well.
- Be sure that you are sitting in a room that is quiet and do not multitask. Be focused on the conversation.
- Have a copy of your resume in front of you for reference.
- If at all possible, use a land line phone to minimize static or interference on the line. Also, disable call waiting, if possible.
- Click here for more tips!
- Your focus here is on the interviewer(s); treat them as if they are the most important people on earth at that time. Be engaging and answer questions in full detail. Remember, when a question is asked, a specific skill is being assessed and in some cases graded.
- Present yourself well. Remember to maintain good eye contact and speak with confidence about your experience.
- Establish a connection with the interviewer and show how much your past experience will benefit the company.
- Always bring a copy of your resume and any other documents that may be helpful for the interviewer after you leave.
- Panel interviews allow for more than one person to interact and observe candidates.
- Being prepared is crucial. Bring packages to the interview for the panelists containing a cover page, a copy of your resume, a brief bio and a letter or two from past employers or college professors. This information will be helpful for the panel after your interview.
- Establish a connection with each of your interviewers through eye contact. Use your presentation skills to explain why you’re the best candidate for the job.
- Video interviews allow you to dial into a call line with your phone while using computer’s web cam to see the individual or panel conducting the interview and vice versa. This allows for visual observations during the interview.
- These interviews allow for flexible scheduling, especially when interviewers or panelists are geographically separated.
- Take care to avoid disruptions in the home or office during the interview.
- Remember that it is important to dress for the interview as you would if you were having a face-to-face interview.
Interviews can make even the most qualified candidates nervous. But, if you know what to expect going into the interview, you can help ease your nerves. Click here to learn more about the hiring process at Sodexo or read these stories about good and bad interview experiences. Do your best and wish for the stars. Good Luck!!
Derren is the Manager, Diversity Recruiting for Sodexo which is a leader in integrated food service and facilities management. He is responsible for managing the Sodexo Future Leaders Internship Program as well as executing diversity sourcing initiatives for both campus and targeted experienced hires. With over 14+ years of experience with Sodexo, Derren has had great success as a General Manager in the company’s Health Care Services division as well as in several positions within their Talent Acquisition Group. He’s an active corporate partner with the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH). Derren is an AIRS Certified Diversity Recruiter (CDR) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR). Connect with Derren on Twitter, Facebook, or Sodexo’s network.