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The Hall Staffing Group

General Interview Advice

The job interview is usually the most anxiety-producing aspect of the job search process. No two interviews are alike. They vary in style and format depending upon the interviewer and the applicant. The content, however, typically centers on two issues: what you can offer the employer and what the employer can offer you. Careful preparation will enable you to be more confident and to present yourself as an attractive potential employee. You should remember that successful interviewing takes practice, patience, feedback, and good humor.
  1. Research the employer
    Only request interviews with employers in which you have a genuine interest. Review all available information on the employer and formulate intelligent questions to ask during the interview. Demonstrate that you've done your homework and you'll make a strong impression. The Internet is a great research tool as many employers have their own Web sites.
  2. Review your resume
    Be prepared to discuss anything included on your resume, such as schools attended, courses taken, experiences, activities, and interests. Bring extra copies of your resume, transcript, references, and writing sample in case the interviewer asks for these.
  3. Dress professionally
    Arrive 5-10 minutes in advance of your interview. Take a few minutes to freshen up, compose yourself, and gather your thoughts.
  4. Be conscious of body language
    Begin the interview with a solid handshake. Sit tall with your shoulders back, not stiff, and head erect. Sitting up properly makes you appear visually strong and interested in what's going on. Avoid intimidating gestures such as stabbing with a finger or winking. Maintain eye contact and don't take notes during the interview. Also, don't forget to smile.
  5. Speak clearly
    Enunciating and putting forth the best possible image is important. Avoid fillers such as "um" and "you know." Use your voice effectively and positively. Answer questions with confidence and clarity. Make a conscious effort to slow down your speaking tempo. Speak in declarative sentences and be as direct as possible.
  6. Listen to the questions
    Answer questions directly and take time to think before answering, but do not digress or talk too long. If an interviewer asks a vague question, do not struggle and make a lame attempt to provide an answer. Rather, ask the interviewer to repeat or clarify the question. If it still isn't clear, don't be afraid to say you don't understand what is being asked.
  7. Ask intelligent, pertinent questions
    Always have questions prepared. These should relate to the employer, the interviewer, and the position for which you are applying. You can avoid painful silences by being prepared with questions and having done your research on the employer. Remember that it is not generally a good idea to ask about salary or benefits during an initial interview.
  8. Be prepared to talk about grades
    Discuss them honestly and realistically. Highlight qualities that may not be reflected in your GPA. Mention specific accomplishments that demonstrate your skills. If appropriate, talk about circumstances that might have contributed to a lower grade point in a given semester.
  9. Be yourself
    Personality is important. Relax and try to convey confidence, sincerity, and maturity. Inject any relevant information about yourself that has not been covered, but which you feel is important to mention. If a potential employer has agreed to interview you, you have already impressed that employer with your credentials. You must then establish a personal rapport with the interviewer. Show some life and enthusiasm.
Questions you may be asked
You may want to prepare for job interviews by reviewing the following typical interview questions and formulating concise, intelligent, yet unrehearsed, answers. You should always answer an interviewer's question with more than a simple "yes" or "no." You might want to offer concrete examples to support your points. Every interview question gives you the opportunity to present additional information that you want the interviewer to have. In this way, you can focus on your greatest strengths.
  • What are your short- and long-term goals?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What motivates you?
  • What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?
  • What courses did you like best and least? Why?
  • Are your grades a good indication of your academic achievement?
  • Who else are you interviewing with?
  • Why are you interviewing with us?
  • What can I tell you about our organization?
  • How can you contribute to our organization?
  • What two or three things are most important to you in a job?
  • What have you learned from your work experiences?
  • Describe the ideal job for you.
Questions to ask the Interviewer
Solid preparation for any interview also dictates that you formulate some questions for the interviewer. You should ask these with honesty and sincerity and show real interest in hearing the answers.
General Questions
  • Why did you choose the type of work that you do?
  • What is the growth plans for the firm, company or agency?
  • How and when are the hiring decisions made?
  • When can I expect to hear back from you?
  • What do you see as the benefits/drawbacks of working at a firm your size?
  • What type of client base does the firm have?
  • Does it rely heavily on one client?
  • How would you describe the firm culture?
  • How are promotions made?
  • What will a typical career pattern look like?
  • How common are transfers?
  • What type of evaluation process do you have?
  • If I accept the offer, will I have a voice in choosing the kind of work I do?
Discrimatory Questions
The single most important guideline for lawful interviewing is for interviewers to focus on job - related questions that can be asked of all applicants. Interviewers should take steps to avoid any questions that would be asked of only one group of applicants.

Generally, employers are not trying to be discriminatory; sometimes they ask inappropriate questions out of ignorance or to promote conversation. If you are having a good interview and are asked an inappropriate question, answer it only if you feel comfortable. You should never, however, feel pressured to answer an illegal question.

If you feel an employer is deliberately asking discriminatory questions, you have every right to confront him or her about it. Always try to understand the interviewer's motivation. If you choose to respond to an offensive question, answer positively and focus on your professionalism and job ability.

Your demeanor and handling of an offensive question could work in your favor and let the employer know why you are such a good candidate.

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