Interview Skills

Interview Skills

Developing excellent interview skills is an important part of the job search process. The purpose of the job interview is to give the interviewer the opportunity to evaluate your application to determine if you can do the job, whether you will fit in and if you are the best candidate for the position? The interview also gives you, as the candidate, the chance to better understand the job and the organization and determine whether the job will offer you the opportunities you may want for advancement or experience? Keep in mind that even though you may possess excellent office technology skills, the prospective employer will also be evaluating your personality, attitudes, professional appearance and ability to communicate. Your ability to convince a prospective employer that you can make a real contribution to their department or company will depend on how well you prepare for the interview. In addition to reviewing the soft skills required by most employers today, follow the guidelines below to help you prepare for your interview:

Prepare for the Interview?

  • Study and practice the Basic Interview Questions
  • Know what are Illegal Questions?
  • Follow the Dress for Success guidelines
  • Participate in a Mock Interview and get video-taped
  • Thoroughly research the company:
    • Know their products and services
    • How profitable is the company?
    • How many employees are there?
    • How long has the company been in business?
    • Any recent expansions or mergers?
    • Who are their competitors?
    • What are their hiring practices?

Dress for Success Guidelines

  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before your interview
  • Shower and shampoo your hair
  • Have a well-groomed hairstyle
  • Wear clean and polished conservative dress shoes
  • Avoid trendy fashions. Dress in the clothes that you would wear on the job
  • Wear clean, freshly pressed clothes
  • Have cleaned and trimmed fingernails
  • Shave
  • Use minimal cologne or perfume
  • Have no visible body piercing beyond conservative ear piercing’s for women
  • Brush your teeth, floss and use a mouth wash. It’s important to have fresh breath
  • Have no gum, candy, or other objects in your mouth
  • Use minimal jewelry
  • No body odor
  • Smile

Before the Day of the Interview

  • Know the date, time and address of your interview.
  • Know the best way to get to the interview and how long it will take to get there. Prepare a map through mapquest or Google maps and do a trial run if time allows.
  • Know the name of the company/business, the job title of the position you are applying for and the name of the person who will interview you.  Write down this information.
  • Read the job description carefully to understand the job duties, salary and qualifications required, etc…)
  • Research the company/business by going to their website.  What are their products/services? How old is the company/business? How many locations are there?
  • Have copies of your resume, a typed list of your 3 references and their contact information, copies of your certificates, diplomas, letters of recommendation and your portfolio or samples of your work (if applicable.)
  • Review the information on your resume and practice your answers to the basic and in-depth interview questions.
  • Follow the Dress for Success guidelines.
  • Arrange for child care (if necessary)

On the day of the interview you should:

  • Arrive at the interview 10-15 minutes early.
  • Introduce yourself to the receptionist and tell him/her the time of your interview and the name of person who will interview you.

During the Interview

Exhibit Good Body Language

Does body language matter? Yes, learning to use positive body signals and control negative ones during an interview can have a significant impact on your job search and on the new job, says Martin Yates, author of “Knock ‘Em Dead.” Martin recommends the following general suggestions on good body language for the interview:

  1. Walk slowly and stand tall upon entering the room
  2. On greeting your interviewer, give a smile, make eye contact, and respond warmly to the interviewer’s greeting and handshake
  3. Get comfortably seated. Keep your head up. Maintain eye contact a good portion of the time, especially when the interviewer begins to speak and when you reply. Smile naturally whenever the opportunity arises
  4. Use mirroring techniques if appropriate through-out the interview
  5. Keep your head up and don’t slouch in your seat
  6. Try to remain calm and do not hurry your movements
  7. Remember to breath

Answer Basic Interview Questions

  • Can you tell me about yourself?
  • Can you tell me about your experience?
  • What do you know about this company and why would you like to work here?
  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What are your biggest weaknesses?
  • What would you like to be doing in 3-5 years from now?
  • Why did you choose a career as an Administrative Assistant/Office Professional?
  • What salary are you looking for?
  • What was your greatest accomplishment in your last job?
  • How do you react to working under pressure?
  • Do you enjoy working independently or as part of a team?
  • Do you require close supervision when you work?

Beware of Illegal Questions

In the United States there is a federal law that forbids employers from discriminating against any person on the basis of marital status, sex, age, race, national origin or religion. Therefore, interviewers who want information on these topics need to phase these questions very carefully. For instance, an interviewer cannot ask what your native tongue is but he/she can ask you what languages you speak and write fluently. It is also illegal for an interviewer to ask your age, if you are married, plan to have any children or what church you belong to.

Questions to Ask

  1. Could you tell me about a typical work day and the tasks I will be doing?
  2. Which duties or responsibilities are most important for this job?
  3. What are the major challenges I will face in this job?
  4. How will I be trained or introduced to this job?
  5. Can you describe the ideal person for this job
  6. Who will I report to in this job?
  7. How many people in your department will I be supporting?
  8. Please explain the opportunities for advancement in this department/company?
  9. How soon do you plan to fill this job?
  10. How many people work in the department/company?
  11. What are the department/company goals for the year?

Questions Not to Ask

  • About salary, wages, holidays with pay, paid sick days, personal days or time off. 

After the Interview

  • Send a Thank-you Letter
  • Follow-up with a phone call


Informational Interview Tutorial: :

The Job Hunting Handbook – Everything you need to get hired by Harry Dahlstrom