Guide to Successful Interviewing By Morris Ellington Group Recruiting Manager Enterprise Rent-A-Car The following are some key ingredients to a successful interview. Although the entire interview process is important, please keep in mind that most interviewers have developed a very strong impression of the candidate within the first 60 seconds. Therefore, the initial impression you make needs to be favorable. RESEARCH - Getting yourself ready for the interview is vital. You need to know the company as well as the job itself. An extensive amount of research is a must. Here are some of the things you can do: Visit and study the companies web site. Obtain and review company literature – annual reports, recruiting brochures, etc. Discuss the company with Career Service Center personnel. Visit company locations and talk to employees. Track down alumni working for the company and talk to them. APPEARANCE - Looking your best is a big part of building a solid first impression. Remember, it is always better to be over than under dressed. Appropriate interview dress should include: Dark, conservative business suit (navy preferred) Starched and pressed white dress shirt (men) Color coordinated silk tie Shined black dress shoes (navy is an acceptable alternative for women) Dark socks (men) / dark or neutral hose (women) No open toed shoes (women) Minimum of jewelry Also, grooming is important. The key is to be conservative and businesslike. INTRODUCTION - Here’s another opportunity to make a solid first impression. Smile, firm handshake, and direct eye contact. Always introduce yourself clearly with your full name and tell the interviewer you’re happy to meet them. Until told otherwise, always address interviewers by their surname. Showing respect for the interviewer is an easy and effective way to solidify the good first impression you’re attempting to make. GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWING Page 2 NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION - Much of the interview is not what you say, its how you say it! Here are some of the non-verbal communication factors you need to be aware of: Posture – sit up straight or lean slightly forward. Keep your arms open. Slight nods of your head indicate you’re listening and interested. Don’t fold your arms or slouch in your chair. Eye contact – when listening or speaking, don’t look away, keep your concentration on the interviewer. Hand gestures – its okay to use your hands to express yourself, just don’t get carried away. A good rule of thumb is to keep your hands below chin level. SMILE! It may sound corny, but this is the most underrated and important interviewing tool you have. Companies want friendly, cheerful people – SMILE! QUESTIONS / ANSWERS - Most companies today subscribe to an interview technique called “behavioral interviewing”. This interview method is based on the belief that a candidate’s past behavior or performance in specific, job related areas is a good indicator of their probable future performance in that same area. Based on this, the more you know about the company and the job, the better able you’ll be to anticipate the type behavioral questions you’re likely to be asked. For example, if the job you’re applying for involves sales, you’ll be asked some questions regarding your past sales experience. Some typical behavioral interview questions might be as follows: SALES POSITION: “Tell me about your most successful sale” CUSTOMER SERVICE: “Tell me about a time you dealt with an angry customer” MANAGEMENT: “Tell me about a time when you motivated others to accomplish a task” One thing to keep in mind, after the initial question, you can anticipate several follow-up questions on the same topic which will become more and more specific. Don’t try and answer a specific questions with a general answer – be prepared to give actual examples. Also, interviewers are not looking for theories, opinions or hypothetical answers – they want specific examples from your past experience. The better prepared you are, and the more research you do, the better equipped you’ll be to give honest and appropriate answers. Here are a couple of additional hints on handling the question and answer portion of the interview: GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWING Page 3 1. Be honest. Never try and give a misleading or dishonest answer. Highly trained, experienced and professional interviewers will almost always detect a dishonest answer. 2. At some point, the interviewer may, “throw you a curve”, or ask a question for which you have no immediate answer. When this happens, don’t panic, and don’t just blurt something out. Stay calm and say, “that’s a good question, let me think about if for a moment”. Pauses while you think about your answer are a normal and acceptable part of the interview. Employers want thoughtful people who think before they speak. ASK QUESTIONS - At the conclusion of the interviewer’s questions, they will probably ask if you have any. You should always take advantage of this opportunity. First of all, there probably are some things you want to know about the job and company in order to make an informed decision. Secondly, asking questions shows an interest in the job, company and interviewer. It is recommended that you script your questions out in advance. Also, ask positive, pertinent and intelligent questions. CONCLUSION - As the interview concludes, you have another opportunity to solidify the good impression you’re attempting to make. Don’t blow it now! Thank the interviewer for their time and reiterate your enthusiasm for the position and company. Another smile and firm handshake is important. Make sure they outline the next step, and when you can expect to hear back from them. Lastly, always get the interviewers business card. FOLLOW-UP - If you’re serious about the job, always send a “thank you” letter immediately. The letter doesn’t need to be elaborate, just a few quick lines: “Thank you again for the opportunity to meet with you today regarding the Management Trainee position. I am even more enthusiastic about an opportunity with Enterprise Rent-A-Car after talking with you. I look forward to hearing from you soon, in the meantime please let me know if I can answer any additional questions or provide any further information”. FINAL TIPS - Try to relax! Many good, qualified people don’t get the job because they’re nervous and uptight in the interview! It’s natural to be a little intimidated when you first begin interviewing. Just like anything, the more you do it, the more relaxed you’ll become. The key is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, and PRACTICE. GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEWING Page 4 Finally, here are four critical mistakes / assumptions we see on a regular basis: 1. Company knowledge/research. Knowing the company and the job is crucial, and you will be questioned in this area. If you know nothing about the company we will probably ask you, “why do you want to work for a company you know nothing about?” 2. Appearance. Of all the mistakes we see, this is the biggest. Remember, you are competing against others. You need to be impressive in your appearance as well as you qualifications and interviewing skills. 3. Don’t assume the job market is good! A great many people assume that just because the unemployment rate is low and the economy good, they have no competition. THE OPPOSITE IS TRUE! During strong economic times many already employed candidates are seeking to upgrade to a better job. The competition can be fierce! 4. Think long-term. Don’t be guided just by the starting pay. Where you’ll be three years from now is every bit as important – if not more so – as where you start. Also, take a look at non-monetary factors: benefits, company culture, ethical standards, community involvement and especially the financial stability of the organization. Opportunity awaits….GOOD LUCK! www.enterprise.com/careers Interview Busters The following are some fatal mistakes we commonly see in interviewing. Familiarize yourself with this list and never do any of these: NEVER write, “see resume” on any document. NEVER be late for an interview. NEVER take a cell phone or pager into an interview. NEVER smoke prior to the interview. NEVER chew gum during the interview. NEVER be rude to the receptionist or administrative assistant (it will get back to the interviewer and it will impact their decision). NEVER take anything into the interview other than a portfolio/folder (a purse is okay for women). NEVER ask for a refreshment (coffee, soda, water, etc.) and it is strongly recommended that you decline if offered. NEVER take a friend or relative to an interview with you. NEVER ask “How did I do?” at the conclusion of the interview. This shows a lack of confidence and puts the interviewer in an uncomfortable position. There are lot’s of other “Interview Busters”, these are just some we see frequently. Basically it just comes down to good judgment, common sense, and showing respect for the interviewer and the process.
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