Preparing for the Job Interview

A prospective employer called in two candidates for an interview. We’ll call them Candidate A and Candidate B.


Image courtesy of stockimages/

Image courtesy of stockimages/

Candidate A arrived a few minutes late. He was dressed casually, wearing jeans and flip-flops. He was also carrying a coffee, but nothing else. Candidate A was friendly enough, but would not shake the interviewer’s hand or make eye contact. He slumped in the chair, drank his coffee, and answered text messages on his cell phone. When asked anything, he would simply reply with “Uh huh,” “Nope,” or “Sure, whatever.” When asked if he had a resume, Candidate A answered that he thought the interviewer had the one he had sent them when he had applied. When asked if he had any questions for the interviewer, he answered, “Um, nope. I’m good.”


Image courtesy of franky242/

Image courtesy of franky242/

Candidate B arrived 10 minutes early. She was dressed neatly and professionally, appropriate for the business she was interviewing for. She carried a portfolio that included her resume, work samples, letters of recommendation, awards, and a notebook with pen to take notes if necessary. Candidate A walked confidently into the room, introduced herself, and shook the interviewer’s hand. She made sure to be engaging and looked directly at the interviewer. Her cell phone had been silenced and was out of sight. When asked any question, she would take a moment to formulate her response completely and accurately. When asked if she had any questions for the interviewer, she had anywhere from one to three pertinent questions.

If you were the interviewer, which of these candidates would you hire? Chances are, like most employers, you would choose Candidate B. Employers are looking for candidates who are organized, knowledgeable, and will contribute positively to their company. In addition to the differences you noticed between the two, Candidate B obviously kept these things in mind when preparing for an interview:

– Do your homework – find out what you can about the company you are applying to, their work philosophy or mission statement, and not only what the company does, but who will be interviewing you (name and title).

– Project a professional, yet friendly attitude – you only have one shot at first impressions.

– Practice with a friend, family member or in front of the mirror – watch your body gestures, facial expressions. Have friend or family member give you honest feedback.

– Be aware of these common interview questions and prepare a short response ahead of time, just in case they ask:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are some of your strengths/weaknesses?
  • What can you do for our company?
  • Tell me about a challenging time you had in a previous place of work. How did you handle it?
  • Why do you want to work for our company?
  • What is one of your proudest accomplishments?

These are just a few key tips for preparing for an interview. For even more information, check out the links below:

Worksource provides a thorough guide in how to prep effectively for job interviews, including the interview structure, communicating effectively, questions to expect, and even questions to ask the employer. You can get started here., the Internet job source giant, has compiled a hearty list of all sorts of interview tips and advice from phone interviews to things that drive hiring managers crazy. Check them out here.

Sometimes companies will conduct a behavioral or situational interview in which the questions they ask will be more on how you will react to specific scenarios. You can check out Alison Doyle’s tips for Behavioral Interview Preparation here.

Kenneth Beare from English Cafe provides job interview advice for English Language Learners as well as a short video about breaking the ice and what is expected during the interview.

Last, when doing your homework on the company you are applying for, gives you a great insight to most major companies including company background, reviews, benefits, and salaries. Find them here.

Good luck in your job search!

Written by Marlene Martzke for English Classes by Skype





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