Q: I am starting to interview for jobs after just graduating from college. Can you give me a quick list of essential do’s and don’ts when interviewing?
Congratulations on being selected for a job interview. I believe that anyone who can get an interview can also get the job. You have already passed muster on paper.
Your qualifications are attractive and now the employer is interested in meeting you to observe how you handle yourself, answer questions and to see what your personality is like. Time is precious so be sure to prepare for the interview.
Look at resources for common interview questions. There are books and online materials that provide frequently asked questions and what the employer is looking for in an answer. A few examples:
What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?
Do: Think about this in advance and be prepared to talk about a strength that will specifically complement the company and benefit the position available. Depending upon the job, strengths an employer is looking for may include ability to meet deadlines, attention to detail, problem-solving abilities, writing and computer skills. When identifying a weakness, describe one that also exemplifies your conscientiousness, such as being hard on yourself when you make a mistake, working too many hours, and taking your work home.
Don’t: Start making a list of weaknesses – remember you were only asked for one. A candidate I interviewed literally began naming weaknesses and never got around to telling us about his strengths.
Why do you want to work here?
Do: Prepare an answer that demonstrates your knowledge of the employer, your genuine interest in the work and ties in something in your background.
Don’t: Give a vague answer that could be applied to any position in any workplace. This just demonstrates that you want a job, but not necessarily the one you are interviewing for. We had a candidate say “I heard it was a good gig.” This told us nothing except that he was unprepared for the interview.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal here.