Facing a hiring or promotional interview can be daunting, but once you know the tips and tricks of the trade you’ll be prepared to face the task and thrive. So wipe those palms, have a seat and take a deep breath—you’re about to learn everything you need to succeed.
The First Person to Interview You Is YOU
The most important part of the pre-interview process is the one many candidates miss. Begin by taking the time to update and revise your resume. Doing this gives you a chance to think about your personal and professional strengths and accomplishments, and how they connect with the position for which you’re applying.
Consider why you want the job. You know you want it, but can you explain why? Next, think about jobs which you have now or have had in the past, as well as things you enjoy doing, including hobbies, habits (the good ones) and pastimes. What motivates you? What are your personal and professional accomplishments? What are your three best attributes? What is the greatest of those three? Also, find one negative trait which you’ve turned around (or are working on turning) to a positive trait. Remember, the interviewers ask the questions, but you write the study guide.
Be Who You Are
Many candidates try desperately to present themselves as whatever they think the interviewer is looking for. This is a tremendous mistake. As anyone who has been on the other side of the table can tell you, it is very difficult to fake your way through an interview. Insincerity stinks and any interviewer worth his or her salt will smell it a mile away. Be comfortable in who you are and what you can do for this job. In preparing your resume you’ve thought about how this job will be a good fit for you and you for it. Now all you have to do is be honest and your sincerity will shine through.
Research the Process
Collect information on the entire hiring or promotional process. Begin with the human resources department or other representative posting the position. Make sure you understand all of the details, including the necessary paperwork and when each step takes place; the written, physical or skill tests which may be involved; and the format the interview will take. Of course, follow these instructions to the letter.
Although employers may not use the same process every time, it may be helpful to find the structure of previous interviews and what questions have been asked. Remember, the goal is not to memorize specific answers to specific questions, but rather to get more comfortable with the process.
Know the Job
Research the job itself. What do you know about the response area? The management structure of the organization? The job duties involved? A simple Internet search of similar jobs or postings will give you the opportunity to think about how you would perform in that position. Even if you’re generally familiar with the position, learn more. If you can, talk with other employees. Contact people who already do this job, either at this agency or at another, and ask them about both their day-to-day work and the remarkable situations they might encounter.
Things to know about the response area in question include the size, bordering areas, demographics and major features. Things to know about the agency in question include the stations, equipment, daily schedule and response duties.
Dress for Success
To be a successful candidate you have to look and feel like a successful candidate. If any instructions on how to dress are provided (work uniform, dress suit, chicken costume) be sure to follow them carefully. If not, the rule is to wear a suit with dress shoes and a nice belt. Don’t forget personal grooming, including avoiding excessive makeup, cologne/perfume and jewelry.
Bring It With You
You may want to have copies of your resume, curriculum vitae and relevant certifications available at the interview. Sometimes these are submitted in another part of the hiring process, but unless directed otherwise, you may bring them to give to the interviewers. Make sure you bring enough packets for everyone (six to eight copies should suffice). Each packet should be clean and bound.