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How to Interview Successfully for the New Position

The phone rang at Sherry’s house early in the morning. It was the HR manager at a subcontractor’s office where Sherry had applied for a job.  Mrs. Jones was calling to set up an interview for Sherry the next morning.

“Hello, Sherry, this is Mrs. Jones at XYZ Company. We reviewed your resume and we would like for you to come in on Friday and interview for the position.  Does 9:00 am work for you?”

“Yes, Sherry answered, 9:00 am works for me. Who do I ask for when I arrive?”

“I will be the one interviewing you tomorrow. See you then”.

“Thank you,” Sherry said as she hung up the phone.  Wow she thought, I finally got the interview.

Now the myriad of questions needing to be answered ran through Sherry’s mind: what to wear, how long is the interview and of course what is the salary? These are all valid questions that would plague anyone looking for a job and finally landing that all important interview. 

What to wear: For women, the attire worn for an interview can vary quite a bit, depending on the nature of the business. If it is a lawyer’s office, then a skirt and heels or flats is appropriate. If it is a company that does shipyard work, then the office may be a bit more casual and a nice blouse or sweater and a pair of nice dress pants will work just fine. No ripped jeans, or flip flops, no sweats, no pajamas and of course no t-shirts at all. Business casual has been reduced to something that few people really understand.  In the movie Working Girl, Sigourney Weaver told Melanie Griffith, when discussing the right clothes for work, “If you wear the wrong dress, they notice the dress. If you wear right dress, they notice you“. It is great advice for any woman.

What to wear: For men, the attire is very standard.  Dress pants or khakis, and a polo shirt for a casual workplace will do very nicely. If it is a more formal company, a suit may be required. Men can wear a colored shirt with a suit, but not to the interview. You can show your personality once you get the job, but a good first impression is important.  If the pants need to be hemmed to fit the shoe being worn, be sure and do that also. Small details make a big difference.

How long is the interview? That answer is most important, but it will vary from company to company. Most set aside about 30 minutes, but if it is going well, it could last longer.  If you are one of 20 people being interviewed, it may be shorter, to get more people through the process.  Then there may be a second interview once the better applicants have been chosen.

What is the salary? The salary range is one thing that can be discussed in the interview, but not until the end and all other questions have been answered.  It is not the first question you ask when the interview begins.  If it was posted on a website then the information is readily available. 

For the Interview Itself: Make sure you go alone and do not have anyone sitting there waiting for you, especially any children, no matter the age of the child. Most companies do not have waiting areas for extra people who just happen to pop in. Do not bring food and do not smoke during the interview.  It is not acceptable to smoke in any building anymore, but I mention it here because if it is a small company, the boss or the HR manager may smoke. 

When you are asked to come in for the interview, make sure you give the person good eye contact and shake his or her hand. Good eye contact is important throughout the whole process. It shows respect and that you are really present in the moment. Silence your cell phone and do not answer it during the entire event.  Make sure you have done your homework on the company: know how long they have been in business, what the company does; provide a product or a service; sell something, or maintain something.  Ask good questions; for example, Who do I report to? May I see my potential workspace, or tour the facility? Is training available or has the position been vacant for a while? Is there a job description? Is there an employee handbook? What are the working hours?  Most contractors start earlier than many other types of businesses; be prepared for them to say early hours and write it down.  You do not want to be late to work the first day. Another question can be, how long are you interviewing and how soon would you start to work? All of these are valid questions and when asked if you have any questions, make sure you speak up and say, “Yes”. This shows the interviewer that you are interested in the position.  Some companies are very tight-lipped until asked certain things. Don’t be shy. If you do not ask, and the interviewer does not give the information, you may be operating on a false assumption, for something as mundane as where to park? Be sure to let the interviewer know when you are available to start work. They may want you to start right away. Most places do not hire on the spot, but some do and you should be ready if you get the question about your readiness to start work.

Once the interview is complete, again, shake the hand of the person who has spoken to you. If they offer their business card with an address or email on it, take it. Be sure to send a note to the person. Is it appropriate to send an email to the person who interviewed you?  In this electronic age, the answer is “yes.” However, nothing replaces a hand-written note sent to the company, to the attention of the HR department. If you want to really stand out, do this and see what happens next.  If you have never written a note to someone thanking them for a job interview, then ask someone who has for help crafting a good one.

Reading books about how to interview will help, but when it comes to the grass roots approach to getting the job, this information will be valuable.  You may want to pass it on to someone you know who is going for an interview. Nothing succeeds like success.

About the Author

Carol Bronson has been employed at Allied Research Technology, Inc. since November 2011. She was initially the Finance Manager, responsible for paying the bills and the payroll. Her responsibilities have increased over the years and now include human resources, workers’ compensation claims, unemployment paperwork and new employee interviews. She finds that her psychology degree has come in handy when employees come to her for personal issues. 

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