During the Interview

A typical interview would progress through the following stages:

Initial greeting - The first impression is very important. Be ready to make eye contact, offer a firm handshake, and call the interviewer by name (using Mr. or Ms.).

Icebreaker - The interviewer may attempt to relax the candidate by making small talk and establishing rapport. You might comment on some things in their office (trophy, painting) or perhaps the facilities.

Career Interest and Goals - You will almost certainly be asked to explain your interest in the position, organization, and career field. In addition, you may be asked to articulate your short and long-term goals. This is where your preparation will help you to display well-defined, mature and realistic career plans. If your career goals are inconsistent with the organization’s needs and interests, you will most likely be screened out.

Your Qualifications - To determine your qualifications, an employer will be looking for tangible results or achievements in work experiences, academic endeavors, community activities, and leadership positions. Be prepared to give specific examples using positive action verbs emphasizing your accomplishments. To prepare for this area of questioning, review the sample questions for Behavioral-based Interviewing.

"What if" Situations - The interviewer may pose a hypothetical situation and ask you to role play your response to the problem. While it is difficult to plan for every possible situation, you can be prepared for this type of question and accept it as a challenge rather than displaying panic and uncertainty.

Organization Information - You may be asked what you know about the organization. Therefore, once again, researching the organization prior to your interview is extremely important. The interviewer will probably spend some time talking about the position and the organization. If you find yourself with a recruiter who talks continually, you will need to find a way to politely interject your own comments and highlight your interest in the position.

Your Questions - Most experienced interviewers allow time for your questions, and you should have a number of questions prepared ahead of time. The interviewer does not want to answer questions that were covered in the organization literature, so be certain you have read it carefully. Also, it is generally inappropriate to ask about benefits and salary during the screening interview, since you want to appear interested in the work itself rather than the compensation and benefits package.
See Sample Questions to Ask an Employer

The Closing - Although the interviewer should take the initiative to end the discussion, you should watch for clues that indicate the interview is over. If the interviewer does not tell you what the next step in the process will be, ASK. Finally, reaffirm your interest in the position and organization and reiterate your qualifications for the job. Make a strong summary statement that repeats your interest and strengths. Thank the interviewer for his/her time.

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