In Government, in business, in sports, in school, it takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to produce spectacular results. The same is true for interviewing. In order for you to be successful in the interviewing process you must excel at presenting and packaging your marketable skills and experience. The sad fact is that far too many candidates have spent too much time worrying about the interview rather than preparing for the interview.
Follow these tips and you will improve the quality of your interview.
Don't try to be something you're not. You've spent your entire life being you. Don't try to change during a 40-minute interview. The interviewer will see through it.
This is one of the simplest ways to overcome nerves and the associated awkwardness of an interview. Ask someone (your spouse, a friend, a relative, anyone you can trust) to interview you and to provide constructive criticism and feedback. This will also force you to anticipate questions that might be asked during your interview.
If possible, videotape your practice interviews. Seeing yourself on video can be painful, but it will be well worth it. Actors rehearse their lines and moves, athletes practice their skills, and salespeople practice their presentations. When you go on a job interview you too will be performing, competing, and selling.
We are looking for people who are self-motivated enough to be prepared for the interview. Candidates who arrive at interviews unprepared are remembered for all the wrong reasons. Don't "wing it."
Look neat and clean. It might sound "old-fashioned," but being well-groomed helps to make a positive first impression. Remember, you only have one opportunity to make that first impression.
Be on time!
Anticipate traffic problems. Anticipate parking problems. If you think that you will have difficulty finding the test location, make a "dry run" the day before the interview so you will know exactly where to go. We are not interested in hiring individuals who are late for tests and/or interviews.
Clear your mind of distractions.
Focus on being energetic, assertive, confident, positive, and likeable.
Conduct some research.
Learn as much as you can about the department for which you are applying. This can be done on the Internet, at the library, at the local chamber of commerce, or even a visit to the department. Ask employees about its mission, its goals, what they like about working there. Hiring Managers are more impressed with individuals who have taken some time to learn about their department, than those individuals who know nothing about their department. Be prepared to ask good questions about the City or department.
Have in mind the characteristics or values that you want to share.
Review past experiences that will help demonstrate these characteristics. Be prepared to talk about the confidence previous employers have had in you.
Answer the questions.
Answer them honestly and directly. Trust yourself; speak from your heart! We are looking for employees we can trust. Play up your strengths. If you have negative experiences, point out what you have learned from them.
If you have been laid off or terminated, be prepared to discuss those situations and the lessons learned. We will do background and reference checks that will reveal those types of situations.
Answer the questions with energy and interest.
Show the interviewer that you are "alive inside."
Work experience and education are important.
Hiring Managers often place equal importance on values such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, and customer service attitudes as well as the ability to get along with people.
When closing the interview, you may be asked if you have any questions or any additional information you would like to share.
This is your opportunity to share any important information that was not elicited during the interview. It is also your opportunity to learn when the next step might occur. When leaving the interview be sure to say "thank you". Good luck!