Yea! You Have a Job Interview Scheduled! Now What?

WorkCoachCafeFinally! You have received an invitation to interview for a job! They want to meet you! The hardest part of the job search process is over now. Isn’t it? Probably not…

This is the step that many job seekers trip over. They think they can coast to a job offer if they have been invited to a job interview. Often, that costs them a hard-earned opportunity. Don’t make the same mistake!

Don’t Assume You’ll Be Handed a Job Offer at the Interview

You might get a job offer, but, really, an instant job offer is very unlikely — even a verbal job offer! And, sadly, a verbal offer isn’t anything you can take to the bank, unless it is followed up in writing. [MORE: What Happened – Did I Get the Job?]

So, best NOT to expect a job offer at the job interview. BETTER, since usually at least two or more people are interviewed for most job opportunities: prepare for the interview so you impress them with your qualifications, accomplishments, and fit for their job. Then, you will be the chosen applicant.

5 Steps to Prepare for Job Interview Success

As Ben Franklin reportedly said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Instead, take these 5 steps to be well-prepared for the job interview:

1. Ask who is interviewing you.

If you weren’t already told, call back to get the names and job titles of the people who will be interviewing you.

2. Carefully review the job description.

Know where you are a good fit, and where you might not be. Then, list your accomplishments that are related to the requirements of the job.

The P-A-R structure is a good framework to use to describe your accomplishments —

P = Problem (or task or situation). What needed to be done?

A = Action. What action was taken and what was your role? Leader, participant, advisor, etc.?

R = Result. What was the result? Happier customers, completed project, more sales, better performance, etc. If possible, also describe how significant the solution was to the organization’s success.

3. Prepare for the standard job interview questions.

The answers you’ve used in other job interviews might not apply to this job and employer. So, think about those answers. You’ll see a list of the standard questions in the column on the right plus strategies for answering those questions successfully. Find them under the “Answering Job Interview Questions” heading, up the page a bit.

And, one of the most important questions to prepare for is, Do you have any questions? This is your opportunity to learn if you really want this job. Read, How to Ask the Right Questions in a Job Interview and Don’t Ask These 20 Questions in Your Job Interview.

4. Research the employer and interviewers.

Employers are typically skeptical of how interested a job seeker really is. So, be well-prepared to answer the “what do you know about us” question.

Thoroughly check the organization’s website. Google/Bing the name of the company and the top officers (including searches like “[company name] sucks” and “[company name] expanding”). Also, check LinkedIn to see if you know any current and former employees who can help you understand the organization and if it is a good place to work.

Then, research Google/Bing and LinkedIn to learn more about the people who will be interviewing you. Are they new to the organization? Are they new to the job title you have for them? What can you learn about their background that may help you find a common ground with them in the interview: previous employer, school, location, professional association, or something else?

Read So What Do You Know About Us for details.

5. Arrive early, dressed appropriately, with copies of your resume.

Make a test run to the location so you know how to get there, and approximately how long it will take so you can arrive in a timely manner (approximately 10 minutes before the interview is scheduled to begin). I once blew an opportunity because I was caught in traffic and missed the job interview.

Bring enough copies of your resume to be able to hand one to each person who interviews you, plus a few extra. Do not expect that any of the people who interview you will have recently read your resume and remember salient facts about you. Chances are you are the 4th or 5th person being interviewed during a very long day.

Preparation Is Essential

Don’t “wing it” for your job interviews. Big mistake! And, of course, follow-up after the job interview is critical for the success of your campaign for a job offer. Read After the Interview, Four (or Five) Useful Things to Do.

More About Succeeding in Job Interviews

10 Steps From Job Interview to Job Offer

What Were They Thinking: 30 Crazy Job Interview Behaviors

Answer the Job Interview Questions, Then Shut Up

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About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 2011, Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe.  A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org, is a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a columnist on HuffingtonPostAOL Jobs, and LinkedIn.  Follow Susan on Twitter (@jobhuntorg) and on Google+.

Comments

  1. denice_1991 says:

    I had a question I was hoping you could answer. I had a job interview yesterday around lunch time and I thought it had gone extremely well. About 3 hours later I received a ‘follow up’ call from the recruiter asking if they could pass my contact details onto a colleague in the same company but a different team who was hiring for the same position as they were very impressed with my interview. I of course said yes, however, asked if this meant I was unsuccessful in my current application. The recruiter said no, a decision had not been made and I would hear from them by Friday in regards to my application with them but from the other recruiter probably by the end of yesterday if not today. I have not heard from them at all.

    This situation has left me somewhat confused as I’ve never experienced anything like this. I’m a recent graduate applying for the first position that could be the start of an actual career within my chosen field. Common sense tells me if they were that impressed, surely they would like to hire me instead of passing my details to someone else to consider me? I’m also worried it may mean another interview, no one enjoys interviews right?

    Thank you for any insight you can give me into this situation.

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      My recommendation is to be patient. Things sound promising, but the process seldom works as smoothly as employers expect — people go out sick, emergencies occur, and, basically life happens.

      But, don’t depend on landing any job until you receive a written offer for the right job title, at the right salary, with the right starting date. Until then, keep looking.

      Good luck with your job search and career!
      Susan

  2. viya222 says:

    Hello,

    I am getting really anxious as I write this. I had a Job interview with Cigna about 3 months ago and I still have not heard back from them. I guess my question is if anyone knows do they really take this long to get back with people? I am very curious and I really want this job but the other part of me tells me that I probably didnt get it and I should just move on but I was hoping for something that tells me that I didn’t get the job. IF anyone can just enlighten me that would be great. Thank for youe response on advance

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Employers currently have a very bad record for getting back to the job candidates who aren’t going to be hired. They don’t hire the candidate, but they don’t let them know.

      This situation doesn’t sound promising. Three months is a long time to keep you waiting if they really want to hire you.

      So, keep looking.

      Good luck with your job search!
      Susan

      • viya222 says:

        Thank you so much Susan, I guess I just wanted to hear it from an expert. I truly appreciate your knowledge. Thank you again

      • Susan P. Joyce says:

        You’re welcome! But, I’m sorry the news wasn’t better. Just keep looking, and keep trying. See if you can find a knowledgeable friend or family member check out your LinkedIn Profile, resume/CV, etc. to see if you could improve them.

        Good luck with your job search!
        Susan

  3. senguank says:

    Hi,

    I have been interviewed in a MNC. I cleared the tecnical round and the HR called me within 2 days and they confirmed me for the managerial round. I attended the managerial round on 27th May 2015 along with the Hr round and had a discussion on the salary as well. She confirmed me verbally that the offer process will take 2-3 days as it requires all the verifications and everything. I came back and on thursday i contacted the global recruitment Team and they confirmed me that it usually takes 1-2 weeks for the offer process to get completed. But then again i told her that as discussed with the HR she told me that it will take around 2-3 days. the global recruitment Team confirmed that my “offer is in process and that it will take 3-4 days for all approvals “.I called her on Monday 1st June and asked me to wait a longer for 4-5 working days and asked me to contact the person who will send me the offer letter. It is been 1 week that i am waiting

    I am confused whether they will really give me the offer letter or not or is it just that they are delaying because they are not interested to give the offer letter. I get mails from the HR (Global Recruitment Team) whenever i follow up over mails. But still dont know the reason why this is getting delayed when they have confirmed me that my offer is in process. Please suggest on this

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      I’m unclear on the sequence and the timing and the people you’ve been in contact with, but offers usually take quite a bit of time, particularly with an MNC where decision-makers can be on another continent in a different time zone.

      I would wait at least another week before contacting them again since one of them did tell you it would take 1 to 2 weeks.

      And, keep looking for a job elsewhere, just in case this one doesn’t come through for you.

      Good luck with your job search!
      Susan

  4. jimmysoh says:

    Hello Susan,

    I am in a desperate need for some help with my job interview process. Perhaps, can you please shed some light to the numerous job rejections that I am having? I have applied to perhaps more than 400 jobs in the past 5 months in the US and in Singapore. Of the 400 applications, I applied closed to 300 jobs in the US which are for entry level positions. I have received about 20 rejections out of the 300 applications – I received 4 phone screening interviews which ended up with me being rejected despite the HR manager saying that I am clearly qualified for the job. I had to move back to Singapore due to my inability to land a job that was relevant to my course work. My job applications in Singapore was somewhat better – I had 4 face-to-face interviews, which again resulted in rejections.

    I have come to realized that perhaps there is something wrong with me. I am not doing something right. I do not know what my problems are. I have taken some steps to identify the weakness in my job interview process.

    I would like to give a context about how I go about applying for jobs. I applied for positions in both the financial and pharmaceutical industries as I majored in biochemistry, finance and minored in french. I attended a top Big Ten school in the US and my grades are not terrible (>3.5). I prepared to the best of my abilities for all interviews – researching companies and practicing the common behavioral questions. However, it seems like I cannot get pass the HR managers.

    I am really wondering what’s wrong with me when all my peers seems to be able to land their first jobs fairly quickly. One of the last few interview feedbacks from some investment firms and banks were that my responses were vague and that my skills did not align with what they are looking for.

    I am clueless as to what they meant and I have since done more research on how to improve my game for the interview process. I started practicing with the CAR method to behavioral questions (Context, Actions, Results). I am still getting more rejections with no feedbacks. I have also started to use LinkedIn to find out more details about the specific job descriptions. Perhaps, can you please enlighten me as to what I am not doing right?

    I would really really really appreciate any constructive feedbacks. Thank you very much!!!!

    Yours desperately,
    Jimmy

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Jimmy,

      Sorry you are having such a tough time, but I seriously doubt that there is anything “wrong” with you!

      Based on the feedback you have received, you are making appropriate changes to your job interviewing strategy. Using the CAR method of answering questions is exactly on target. Focus on your accomplishments, quantified if possible. Focus your LinkedIn Profile and your resumes in the same way, on CAR accomplishment statements.

      If it’s any consolation, you are not alone in being rejected consistently, and also in not receiving any feedback from the employers. Employers are being extremely rude to most job seekers which is, unfortunately, very common.

      Currently, employers have many candidates to choose from, so they are being extremely picky as well as being rude. Often the rejection — or lack of response — will have nothing to do with you. Another candidate was referred by a current employee (an employer’s favorite way to hire), someone else had “better chemistry” with one of the interviewers, someone else’s references called back more quickly, or the job got cancelled because of an internal reorganization. A million things can happen to a job opening.

      In the USA, we have many job clubs — groups of job seekers who meet regularly and help each other with job search issues, often lead by a career/job search professional. Job clubs are an important source of both support and feedback, as well as networking leads. They show you that you are not the only smart, capable person having a tough time job hunting. I hope that job clubs are available in Singapore. And maybe your college has an alumni group in Singapore you can connect with. Expand and leverage your network, usually the best source of job leads.

      I know it is very hard not to see all this rejection and being ignored as a reflection on something lacking in you and your capabilities. But, really, it is MUCH more likely that someone else was better connected or something else impacted the decision.

      Don’t take it personally, don’t give up, and do connect with your network in Singapore. You will succeed!

      Good luck with your job search!
      Susan

  5. I recently had applied for a job in a MNC and I had the contact of the HR manager so I emailed but the autoreply explain the person was out of office but it provided someone else’s contact, so I emailed my questions to that person, for which i got a reply that my questions had been forwarded to the hiring manager. So the hiring manager and I had a back-forth set of emails a week ago, and this monday he asked me if i could come in for an internview. I was asked what would fit me if wed or thurs and if 10 am would work if not that he could fix any time that i would be available. So, I was so thrilled i had landed the interview. I replied the date and time. On tues I got an email saying that he was afraid that he had to cancel the appointment due to unexpected circumstances and that he will have to get back to me when he is back from vacations in august. He ended he was sorry for that. So, tuesday i went back to the career webpage to look for new openings and there was one posted that same day just before he had emailed me, different job title but exactly same job description and requirements. What should I make out of this? should I re-apply, should I wait for him to come back to me in august, or should i email him to ask if it is in fact the same job being re-posted??? I am very saddened. I had already started my field research on the job tasks and practiced for the interview. Of course, I will keep looking, but what to do about this.

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