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Interview Readiness: How Job Seekers can Hedge their Bets

8 Simple Steps for Interview Preparedness
racorn/123RF.com

Congratulations – you’ve landed the interview. You’re halfway to getting a new job. The next hurdle is meeting with an HR representative or hiring manager and showing them you’ve got what it takes. How can you increase your odds of landing that new spot? Being ready for the interview can help you hedge your bets.

Understand that if you’ve been scheduled for an interview, you already have the qualifications needed. No one wastes valuable recruiting time on unqualified candidates. You meet or exceed the minimum criteria for the opening, so the next steps are important to move you from candidate hopeful to new hire.

Do your homework

When you’re being scheduled, ask if you can review of copy of the job description prior to the interview; it may be attached to or part of their job posting. Be well versed in the duties for the opening, so you’re ready to discuss how well you’ll fit in. Look for information on the institution online, as well, to understand their mission, vision and news about them. The more informed you are about the facility and the job itself, the better you’ll do in the interview.

Sell yourself

You’re not taking time out of your busy schedule not to get the job, so when you’re in the interview, it’s time to sell yourself. If you’ve had a chance to review the job description, talk about the things you’ve done in the past that are required for the position. Discuss your strengths – I’m highly organized, I thrive on stress, I’m a capable multi-tasker. Remember that if you do a great job selling yourself, you get the job. If not, you’ll probably never see that person again, so what does it matter? In an interview, if you don’t sell yourself, no one else will.

Dress the part

Obviously you’re not going to arrive in scrubs, even if the position will ultimately require them. But showing up in cargo shorts or stiletto heels isn’t going to show the interviewer that you’re job-ready. Dress professionally: more like Monday morning than Friday night. The interviewer won’t be wearing flip-flops, and neither should you. The message you send is one of respect – for the process, the institution, and the interviewer.

Be on time or early

Nothing says, “My time is more valuable than yours” than showing up late. Possibly worse is arriving 1 hour early and asking if they can squeeze you in “since you’re there already.” Recruiters are busy people, and they are literally judging every step you take.  Plan to be 10 to 15 minutes early for your interview to show you appreciate their time and commitments.

Convey respect

A warm handshake and eye contact (not stare downs) are becoming lost arts, but they are important. They convey you are comfortable with new environs and people, and what job doesn’t involve those?

It’s important to follow the cues the interviewer is providing. If they’re casual about the meeting, you can be more relaxed as well, but don’t put your feet up on the furniture. If they’re more professional, sit up straight, and follow their lead.

Ask meaningful questions

Asking questions doesn’t mean interrupting the interviewers continuously. Give them a chance to tell you what they want to convey about the job, facility, benefits, etc. Then, they’ll likely ask if you have any questions. If they’ve covered all the aspects of the job that you wanted to discuss, certainly tell them so, but do try to ask a few questions. Ask about the things that haven’t been covered, and you might try these: “What do you like about working here? Is there opportunity to develop professionally?  I’m very interested in this opening – do you know when you’ll make a decision?”

In closing

When the interview is finished, shake hands and thank the interviewer for her time and consideration. Let him know you’re interested in the opening, if you are. It’s perfectly acceptable (in fact it’s a plus) to ask when you can hope to hear from them. Every opportunity you have to show you’re eager to be onboard is helpful.

Send a thank you note

Another lost art that’s appreciated by interviewers: a thank you note. Again, you’ll want to thank them for their time and express your hope to join their team soon. The more you place yourself top of mind with an interviewer, by showing your professionalism and courtesy, the better your chances of getting hired.

Interviews don’t have to be stressful. Do your homework on the institution and the position. Put your best foot forward, and remember the basics of interview etiquette. Good luck!

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About Riia O'Donnell

Riia O’Donnell has over 20 year’s hands-on experience in all aspects of the Human Resource function. Beginning as a recruiter, she grew to lead in all areas of HR, including employee training and development, legal compliance, benefits administration, compensation evaluation, and staff management. She has been a contributing writer for a wealth of HR, training, and small business websites for the past 7 years.
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