Preparation for an Interview


  1. Be prepared!
  2. Filling out the job application.
  3. Beware of the negative interview!
  4. Have a clearly defined idea of the position.
  5. Draw on parallels and comparisons from your experience.
  6. Never discuss money or benefits!
  7. Explain your responsibilities in current position.
  8. Present your reason for leaving your last position.
  9. Describe your strengths and weaknesses.
  10. What are you looking for in your next position?
  11. Why did you choose our company?
  12. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  13. What can you bring to this company and department?
  14. What is your biggest accomplishment?
  15. Posture … eye contact … calm!
  16. Examples of questions you can ask an employer.
  17. As the interview ends …
  18. Good luck!

Be prepared!

You always want to go into an interview well-prepared.

Do research on the company.  The company’s web site is often an excellent place to start.  Acquire a feeling about the company/corporate culture, the number of employees, and the organizational make-up.

Prepare questions ahead of time to ask the person interviewing you.

Dress professionally in a suit.

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Filling out the job application.

At the start, fill out the job application completely. And print as neatly as you can … this is part of your very important first impression.

If something doesn’t apply to you, mark it n/a or draw a line through it.  This lets the company representative know that you actually read the item, and didn’t just skip over it.

Be courteous at all times to everyone you come in contact with, beginning with the receptionist.  You never know who these people may be!

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Beware of the negative interview!

Don’t allow yourself to be thrown off by a negative interview. Your interviewer may just be testing you to see your initial
interest in the company.  Stay focused and positive; carry on the interview to the best of your ability.

The best way to express your interest is to always smile and maintain eye contact!

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Have a clearly defined idea of the position.

When you interview with the company, you want to have a clearly defined idea of what you are looking for.  Do not ever be unsure of what you are looking for during an interview!

They may ask you what you are looking for, and you must tailor your answer to correspond to the job description.  For example: “I am looking for an administrative assistant position because I really enjoy the diversity such a position offers, and I enjoy utilizing my organizational skills to ensure that others remain organized.”

You almost have to act like this is the only company that you are interested in securing a job with.  Show lots of interest in the workings of the company.  Be as enthusiastic as possible; interviewers can sense whether or not you are interested in the  position or the company.  Even if you are not interested initially, later on you may change your mind and then it will be too late.

You want to have as many options as possible when it comes time to accept a job offer.  It is much easier to decline an offer, then it is to get one!

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Draw on parallels and comparisons from your experience.

The interviewer will most likely describe the position for you.  Make sure to draw on parallels and similar responsibilities from previous employment experiences.  This will show the interviewer that you are a good fit for the position. For example: “I developed a database, using Access, to track leads and sales to better organize the vice president. The company still uses it.”

The more relevant experience you have, the more likely it is that you’ll be brought back in.

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Never discuss money or benefits!

If the interviewer happens to bring up money or benefits, you can always say: “I am looking for a reasonable increase,”
or, ” I am willing to accept any reasonable offer, however I am more interested in finding the right position.”

If they want a bottom line, never say anything unreasonable! For example: if you are making $32,000 do not ask for $50,000.

Discuss with your recruiter about how to answer the bottom line question.

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Explain your responsibilities in current position.

Take the interviewer through your progression in your current position.  You must be very clear and concise, giving concrete
examples.  For example: “I maintain a database for the vice president that tracks leads and sales, and helps to keep her organized;” or, “I am in constant contact with clients, as well as with internal staff, resolving scheduling issues.”

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Present your reason for leaving your last position.

If you are not currently employed, you will always be asked why you left your last job.  This has to be answered very
carefully
!  Under no circumstances badmouth a former employee or employer.  You always want to express how it was a positive experience for the development of your skills.

Every situation is different, so consult with your recruiter about how to answer this question. Remain as positive as possible.

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Describe your strengths and weaknesses.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

For weaknesses, you can always say: “I am extremely organized, sometimes to the point that people call me anal.”

If this question is difficult for you, jump over to this site’s character keywords for some help finding words or phrases that match your persona. (And if you find that you have some great keywords that we should add to our list, by all means email them to our webmaster for inclusion on his site.  Thank you!)

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What are you looking for in your next position?

First of all, never say the word “growth.’ People do get scared that you will take their job.

What you do want to say is that the most important factor in finding your next position is stability, and also the opportunity to be a part of a growing, established company.

This is a good place to offer/sell yourself to your interviewer. For example, you can say something like: “I will do whatever I can to help organize the hiring manager, and alleviate his workload by drawing on my organizational skills to help him better perform his job.”

Or, you could say something like: “I like to feel that I’m contributing, that we’re all working toward a common goal, and that we reach that goal together.”

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Why did you choose our company?

“From what I saw on your website, I’m very much interested in the business that you do …”, elaborating with what you found the company’s website.

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Where do you see yourself in five years?

You are always safe when you say: “I find myself working to my fullest capabilities in a successful, renowned, growing, and established company … in a position where I feel that I am making a contribution.”

Leave it at that.  Don’t feel as if you have to elaborate.

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What can you bring to this company and department?

This goes hand-in-hand with your strengths.

Focus on organizational skills and dedication.

Go back to the job description and tailor your answers to the duties and minimum requirements of the position.

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What is your biggest accomplishment?

You must have a concrete example!

Think of something that you have done that has saved the company money.  Have you created and developed a procedure? Have you implemented a time-saving procedure?  Have you created a form to make things run more smoothly?  Have you created a database to organize something?

You must have a concrete example, as this will separate you from the rest of the applicants!

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Posture … eye contact … calm!

Very important!

When interviewing, always remember that you must keep your posture upright, maintain eye contact, and no being antsy … remain composed and don’t move all around in your seat! This doesn’t mean rigid, it means professional.

You always want to be dressed in a suit.  Don’t wear open-toed shoes or sandals, even though the company itself may be business casual.

You want to convey to them that you are very serious about your job search.

First impressions are everything!

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Examples of questions you can ask an employer.

1.    “How long have you been with the company?”

2.    “What do you like about working here?”

3.    “What are you looking for in someone coming into this position?”

4.    “What are your expectations of me?” This allows you to throw the ball in their court to find out any issues on their part, giving you the opportunity to elaborate on how you can satisfy these expectations.  Elaborate on your previous experience and how you can fulfill these expectations.

5.    Ask questions based on information that you obtained from their website.

6.    Be observant during the interview. Perhaps your interviewer has a plaque on the wall or on the desk for special achievement at the company.  You could ask about the circumstances that lead to the receipt of that recognition.

7.    Keep in mind that your recruiter may have special insight on your interviewers and their corporate culture; so, don’t hesitate to ask for suggestions.

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As the interview ends …

At the end of any interview, you must always express your interest. You must insure that they understand that you are interested in the position.

Thank the interviewer for the time spent, and say something like: “Just so you know, I would very much like to be considered for this position.  I feel that it’s a great match!”

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Good luck!

We’re rooting for you!  We’re confident in your success! We’re partners in this!

After you interview we will follow up with both the interviewer and with you to see how each of you felt that the interview went.

Good luck from all of us at ASI!

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