Congratulations, you got an interview! But yikes, what then?
Congrats, you got a job interview. Woot, woot! But how can you best prepare?
Begin by researching the company thoroughly. Scour the website and other available material to develop a clear understanding about the business' practices, structure, and philosophy. In addition, learn the names of people involved, and investigate their background.
Consider why you want this opportunity, and what specific aspects you hope to convey about yourself. The more prepared you appear, the more impressed the committee will be.
Keep in mind that interviews are a two-way process.
Both the employer and applicant must determine if there is a good fit.
If a PHONE interview is requested, find a convenient time and a quiet, distraction-free place to take the call. Turn off call-waiting and refrain from chewing gum, eating, washing hands, checking e-mail, or engaging in any activity other than the conversation itself. (In one phone interview, we heard a toilet flush!)
Keep a pen and paper handy to organize your thoughts, and jot down important points as they arise. It is also a good idea to have a resume, CV, or list of important details close by, in case your mind goes blank. Do not interrupt, and keep answers short. Just say enough to create interest while building positive rapport. The goal of a phone interview is usually to advance to the next, in-person round, so don’t feel that every detail of your history and vision must be divulged during this conversation.
For FACE-TO-FACE interviews, dress the part. Unless instructed otherwise, men should wear slacks, a sports coat, and a tie. Women should select a nice outfit akin to common work attire, not too revealing. Make eye contact, smile, and project a sincere interest. Throughout the process, be positive and friendly.
Though you should maintain a professional aura, let your true personality shine. Answer questions specifically, and refrain from rambling. In most cases, responses should be limited to 2-4 minutes; observers will ask for additional details if interested. Always speak honestly, rather than modifying a response to reflect what you think interviewers want to hear. As clever as you may be, there is no way to read minds, and you certainly don’t want to be hired under false pretenses.
Mock interviews with friends, colleagues, or mentors can be extremely helpful. Video tape these interactions and analyze your performance, paying special attention to body language and nervous habits. Some common job interview questions are:
Why are you interested in this position?
What makes you a good match for the job?
What is your previous work history?
What past experience will help you succeed in this post?
What are your professional/personal goals over the next 5-10 years?
What is your (musical, business, teaching) philosophy?
What are your strongest and weakest qualities? To answer this one, even your “weakness” should make you look strong. “I work too hard…”
Do you have any questions for us?You should always have some questions prepared that demonstrate your sincere interest in the position.Ask lots of questions throughout the interviewing process if possible.
You may be asked to deliver a sample PRESENTATION. If so, the topic addressed is often less important than the way it is portrayed. Of course, the content must be mastered, but you will likely be the leading “expert” in attendance.
Rather than attempting to cover an inordinate amount of information, focus on fewer points while emphasizing your priorities, style, and philosophy. Are you positive? Interactive? Likable? Funny? Do you feel comfortable at the piano? Is technology an essential tool? Be sure to demonstrate that you are not only a highly qualified individual, but also an outstanding colleague who will excel within their environment.
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