- Are the type of person that gets into an interview and freezes up?
- Are you not sure what you are supposed to be doing in an interview?
- Are you the person that goes on interviews time and time again but never gets the job?
- Or is this your first interview and you do not know what to expect?
Well you are in luck. Whatever your situations is, here are the top things you can do to prepare for an interview.
Go Back To the Job Listing
Whenever I am actively looking for a job I am applying for multiple jobs. When people finally call me for an interview I can barely remember the details of the listing. That is why you should keep a spread sheet of all the jobs you applied for and when an agency calls you, you can go back on the internet and research the position. Referring back to the job listing will allow you to get a fresh perspective on what the job is, what you will be doing, and what qualifications they prefer. For example, if the job you applied for prefers knowledge in Microsoft office; and you know that is not your strong suit. It would be a good time to re-familiarize yourself with Microsoft office so that way if it comes up during your interview then you are knowledgeable and not saying “Ummmm I don’t know.”
You never want to lie and say you are familiar with Microsoft office and you are not. Often times for an interview they will call your bluff and lead you to a computer and ask you to complete a minor task using Microsoft office. This can go for other things such as asking you to submit a writing sample on the spot or do a typing test on the spot. Which is why you should not lie, just familiarize and practice before hand.
Knowing the job listing will also give you a chance to highlight the skills that are relevant to the position. For example if the position requires that you must work well with kids. Then during the interview it may be a good idea to bring up the fact that you have worked at a day care or that you have an early childhood certification AND you can bring the certification to the interview. This will show that you are well prepared and know important details of the position.
In an interview 9 times out of 10 the interviewer is going to ask you:
“What do you know about our company?”
The last thing that you want to say is “I don’t know” or “nothing.” This is a sure way not to get the position. So what you want to do is research the organization. Some of the main things that you want to look for in your research is the organization’s mission statement, what do they do, who do they serve, and how long they have been around. You also want to know, who is the CEO or who is the supervisor of the position you are interviewing for. Does the company offer medical insurance, life insurance, or a 401K? Some great resources that can be utilized in LinkedIn.
You also want to research what past employees have said about the agency that you are interviewing for. Some great resources for these are Indeed and Glassdoor. Many past/ current employee post their experiences with the agency on these sites and give them a rating. It would not detour me if there was one bad rating out of 15 ratings. But if there are 10 bad ratings out of 15 ratings, then I would be concerned. Pay attention to what past employees are saying so that you can determine if it is something that you can deal with or not. If they say that the company makes a habit of not paying employees on time, then you need to determine if that agency is a right fit for you. Also pay attention to the date of the reviews. A review from 5 years ago may not be as relevant as a review from 3 months ago. And if there is anything about the company that seems sketchy to you, ask questions about it during the interview. In a respectful tone of course. Like if in the reviews you notice a lot of people saying that they quit after 3 weeks of working there. Then ask in the interview “What is the turnover rate like in this position?”
Often times many government agencies post a salary range telling you how much they are willing to pay. This will give you an idea of what to expect. For example if an agency says they are going to pay you between $30,000 and $40,000 then expect to get somewhere in the middle. It is very rare that an agency will pay you there maximum for a job position. But they there are other jobs that have a salary range like $30,000 to $65,000. That is a big range and may vary depending on your experience. Meaning that if you are fresh out of college or high school and have minimum to no experience, expect to be paid near the $30,000 range. If you have massive amounts of experience then expect to get between $50,000 and $60,000.
There are some positions who do not post the salary at all. Once again a good resources for this is Glass Door. Search the agency you are interviewing for, the position, AND the geographic location you are interviewing in; to get an accurate salary amount. People who live in Tim buck too nowhere USA is not going to get paid the same as someone living in Los Angeles even if it is the same company. Because the cost of living is higher in LA. Also when looking for salary, make sure you look at how many years’ experience each person has so you can get an accurate understanding of what you want your salary requirement to be.
If by chance you cannot find your agency on Glass Door. Research a similar position on Glass Door in the same area but with a difference agency, and that will give you an idea of how much you should ask for in the interview if they ask you for your salary requirements. If they do not ask you your salary requirements, it is okay to ask on the interview “How much does the position typically pay?”
The last thing you want to do is be late for an interview. Many sure you GPS or look up the location beforehand. Make sure you look up traffic reports for the time of your interview. For example, in the DC area it takes me 20 minutes to get to my job WITHOUT traffic. With traffic, from 6 am-11 am, it takes me over an hour to get to work. Checking your local traffic reports will help you determine traffic flow to ensure that you make it on time for your interview. Also check out parking. At my job we have a parking deck you have to pay for. During my interview I paid a meter. You want to make sure you have change or a card if paid parking is required.
When Getting To The Interview You Always Want to:
- Have a 15 second speech about yourself. Most interviewers ask you to tell them something about yourself. They have your resume, so often times they want to hear something personal. But not too personal.
Example: My name is Sophia. I am a mother of one, and I just recently moved to this area. I came from Richmond, VA and lived there for a few years before deciding to relocate to a bigger city for better opportunities.
Which is true, that is why I moved. An example of what NOT to say.
Hi, my name is Sophia. I am a single mother and I moved here to live with my mom. The reason why I had to do that is because my husband recently divorced me and he sold the home from under me, leaving me and my child homeless to fend for ourselves. (None of that is true by the way). But just to give an example of TOO much information.
- Ask questions. You have done your research, ask questions relevant to the position. For example
- What are the hours going to be?
- Do I get paid time for holidays?
- Do I have to work holidays?
- Do you offer medical insurance?
- How long do I have to work here before qualifying for medical insurance?
- Is there a second interview involved?
- When will I hear back from this interview?
- When you get into the room, ALWAYS greet everyone AND shake everyone’s hand.
- Do not sit until you are invited to sit. If this is taking a long time, ask “Is it okay if I sit here?”
- And always bring references, numbers of past employers and names. Even though you may have sent them your resume. Many places may ask you fill out an application right then and there. So you want to have the information.
- And always dress professional (Click my blog here on how to dress for an interview). I do not care if you are interviewing for a cashier and 7-11 or for KFC dress up for your interview.