By Janine Corea
You’ve made the decision to go back to work and now you face the daunting task of interviewing for a new position. A little preparation will help ease your anxiety as you prepare to re-enter the workforce.
Learn a little about the company before the interview. An easy way to do this is to visit the employer’s Website to get an overview of the company’s history, products or services, and the organization in general.
Dress for success. It’s always a best practice to err on the conservative side when you’re unsure of the dress code for the job you are seeking. First impressions often make the difference between getting a second interview or job offer, and receiving a “no thank you” letter. When thinking of attire for a job interview, don’t forget about personal hygiene. Be sure your hair is well groomed; jewelry, perfume, cologne, etc. are minimal; nails are well manicured.
Arrive on time. Plan ahead and know where you are going and how much time it will take to get there. You should plan to arrive a few minutes early (no more than 10 minutes) as you may be asked to complete an application prior to the actual interview. Arriving late for a job interview is sure to turn off a potential employer.
Make a positive first impression. Greet everyone, particularly the receptionist (who is often the first person you meet) politely and professionally. Offer a firm handshake which sends a message of confidence.
Be prepared to give specific examples of your work experience. Many employers ask behavioral based questions in an interview. They are looking for more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. In fact, they want to hear specific examples that illustrate your abilities. If you can’t give examples of certain work experiences, it will leave the employer wondering whether or not you possess the necessary experience.
Avoid asking about wages or benefits during the initial interview. While asking questions shows interest, asking about wages or benefits during the initial interview sends the message that you are only concerned with money. There will be time to negotiate salary and benefits later in the interview process.
Never put down a previous or current employer. Regardless of your feelings about your current or previous employer, saying negative things about the company or a supervisor will only make you look bad. A prospective employer doesn’t want to hire someone who is negative or talks poorly about previous work relationships.
Be prepared with references. Most employers will want to check references. Contact potential references in advance to obtain permission. Include work-related references, particularly past supervisors. Potential employers don’t want to know what your Aunt Betty thinks of you!
Follow up with a thank you note. Send a thank you note to every person with whom you interview. It will keep your name in the front of their mind, show your interest in the position, and portray you in a positive light.
Remember, good interviewing skills are learned and don’t come naturally to most people. Take the time to practice and perfect your skills. While you’ll likely have to go through multiple interviews with numerous employers before being offered a position, taking time to prepare will reduce job interview stress.
Janine Corea is a certified Professional in Human Resources and mother of two who lives in Rochester, NY.