Job Interviews—Preparation Pays
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“Job Interviews—Preparation Pays,” Ensign, Apr. 1985, 74

Job Interviews—Preparation Pays

Job interviewing can be a frightening experience. Fortunately, much can be done to reduce the anxiety and make the experience more successful.

1. Prepare

First, create a record of past employment. Include the name, address, and phone number of each employer. Note starting and stopping dates; most job applications will ask for them. Include a brief description of your duties and activities. Include a similar account of training in school or elsewhere, non-paid activities, and a brief description of your employment-type activities at home.

Next, learn all you can about the employer. Is there a place for you and your training in the company? Will you enjoy working there, and for how long? How long has the employer been in business, and is the company financially sound? How far can you advance, and will you need to get additional training to do so? What would your salary range be? Are there other benefits? What type of clothing would you wear to work?

These and other important questions can be answered by people working at the company and through the career and business reference sections in your local library.

2. Present Yourself Well

Here are some guidelines you can follow to make the interview itself successful.

Be punctual. If possible, arrive early so you can review the information you have studied about the employer or fill out applications.

Take your cues from the interviewer. The interviewer will decide whether or not the two of you should shake hands, and so forth.

Avoid one-word answers. If the only answer the interviewer can get from you is either yes or no, the interview will not be productive. Obviously, some questions need be answered with only one word; however, you should elaborate on other questions to make the conversation more natural.

Use good posture. Many interviewers feel that your posture is a gauge of your mental and physical vigor.

Anticipate the interviewer’s questions and prepare your answers so they come out smoothly. Many of the questions asked during the interview will be repeated by other interviewers. If you were clumsy the first time in answering a question, think about the question and be prepared for later interviews.

Have goals. Be prepared to say what you would like to be doing in five or ten years, and be realistic. If your goals do not coincide with opportunities in the employer’s organization, you are not a good career prospect.

Be honest with the interviewer. Don’t give the answer you think he or she wants. The questions are designed to see if you would be successful in the job. If you succeed in fooling the interviewer, you may also succeed in getting a job in which you will be unsuccessful or unhappy.

Speak about your past employers and past experiences in favorable tones. Emphasize the positive contributions your past experiences have made to your career.

Look the interviewer in the eye without staring.

Have a good closing remark and listen closely to any last-minute instructions the interviewer gives you. The interviewer may say, “Think it over and let us know in a couple of weeks if you are still interested.” As a closing remark, you may want to tell the interviewer how interested you are in the employer’s opportunities.

Record the interview and the name of the interviewer in a permanent place so that you can send a follow-up letter in the near future.

3. Follow Up

Many people fail to follow up after their initial interviews. Arrange to call back as you finish the employment interview by simply saying: “When do you expect to make a decision? May I come back then to discuss it with you?”

When you arrive home, send a thank-you letter and indicate that you will return as agreed to talk with them. If several weeks will be involved, you may instead want to drop by occasionally, have someone else speak in your behalf if it is appropriate, or send new information (notice of your graduation, or further research, for example). Be guided by the situation, but stay visible. Then be prepared to receive their decision graciously. [For more suggestions, see the January/February 1985 issue of the New Era.] Lynn Eric Johnson, Associate Professor of Career Education, Brigham Young University

Illustrated by Beth Maryon Whittaker