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Preparation Before an Interview

A successful interview is dependent upon preparation, presentation and follow-up. In much the same way you would prepare for an exam, preparing for an interview will enable you to both positively answer questions and actively participate in the interviewing process. Showing insight, demonstrating how you "fit in" with an organization and following through post interview will significantly increase your chances of securing an offer. Your FPC recruiter will help you prepare for the interview by reviewing the following steps. 

Assessing Your Personal Inventory
Anticipate what you are likely to be asked, and prepare your answers. Being able to specifically detail your accomplishments is very important, making sure to convey your strengths and special skills. Make a list of your personal strengths and abilities. Familiarize yourself with the list, but don't deliver a memorized presentation. Identify your life goals and be ready to demonstrate how the prospective position relates to them. Remember that your interviewer may probe about long-term commitment, so if you know where you want to be five years from now, you'll be able to answer confidently. In anticipation of questions about any weaknesses, explain how you might convert these into strengths in a different setting. For more information on the type of questions an interviewer might ask, see Not Your Father’s Interview: How to Prepare for Situational and Behavioral Interviews.” 

Researching the Company
Find out as much as you can about your prospective employer. Your FPC recruiter will help you understand the organization and its products, services, clientele and competition. If time permits, obtain a copy of the company's most recent annual report. Also consult reference books such as Dun & Bradstreet, Moody's Manuals, and Standard & Poor's Corporation Records. Trade and industry publications may also be helpful in giving you that extra margin of information, which shows that you took initiative. 

Preparing Your Questions
Asking questions about the company is an excellent interview technique. Such questions as "What will be most important for me to accomplish?" and "Why is the position open?" not only show the interviewer your interest, they give you information to help you proceed with the interview. You should also make inquiries about the company's current status and future growth plans. Do not ask questions about salary, benefits, vacation and the like. However, if you are asked about salary requirements, simply state your current earnings and your openness to a reasonable increase. 

Dressing for the Interview
Your appearance will provide a first impression, even before you shake hands. Attire, haircut, manicure and personal hygiene are essential in presenting the most professional appearance. Although many workplaces today permit casual attire, you should always dress in a professional manner for the interview.

Men:

  • conservative business suit in black, dark blue or charcoal gray
  • white or pastel shirt
  • conservative or moderate tie
  • avoid sport jackets, summer attire and open collars
  • shoes should be lace ups and well-shined
  • carry a planner or professional pad
  • avoid briefcases, as they can become cumbersome
  • avoid excessive cologne
  • remember to shave or trim facial hair

Women:

  • suit and blouse or tailored conservative dress or pants suit
  • avoid slacks or jeans (designer or otherwise) and large shoulder bags
  • shoes should be closed-toe and well-shined
  • carry a planner or professional pad
  • avoid briefcases, as they can become cumbersome
  • avoid excessive makeup, jewelry and perfume

Count Down to the Interview
A day or two before the interview, call your FPC recruiter to confirm the time of your appointment, and get the spelling and pronunciation of the hiring manager’s name. Get directions to the location, especially if it is in an area you don't know. You may even want to rehearse getting there the day before, so you’ll know the directions exactly. Review your recruiter's notes regarding the company, job and interview process. Plan to arrive a few minutes early for your interview. Punctuality makes a good impression, so allow extra time for traffic delays. If for some reason you are running late, call your FPC recruiter immediately to let him or her know that you will not be on time. You consideration will be appreciated. When you arrive, it may be necessary to complete an application, whether or not you have submitted a resume. On any questions regarding salary requirements, it is advisable to answer "open" or "to be discussed." Now that you know the steps to take before your interview, read on to the next article, “Presentation at the Interview.”   

The Final Word: How FPC Can Help
Remember that your FPC recruiter can further assist you with the steps outlined above and also offer advice on how to turn questions about any weaknesses into strengths in a different setting.  

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