The single most crucial part of the job hunt process is the formal job interview. This is a face-to-face or phone meeting with a hiring official where there is a definite job opportunity at stake. During the interview, both parties see if they like each other and how they can satisfy each other's needs. Not only will you be letting the employer know about your best qualities, but you will attempt to gain a clearer conception of the employer, and the position that is available. All the time and effort you have spent in preparation to make an oral presentation of what you have learned comes together at this point--Now is the time to sell yourself!
Be prepared to demonstrate competence and confidence in each of the above areas. Assess yourself. Which of these areas are you strong in? Where do you need more experience? Where do you need to study? A successful interview is achieved when you invest energy to prepare for the job which you are seeking.
The secret of good interviewing is good presentation which
requires preparation and skilled communication. You don't get
a second chance in an interview. From the moment you greet
the interviewer until you say good-bye, the impressions you
create are irreversible for that interviewer. Making a formal,
personal presentation of your knowledge, attitudes and skills
as related to the job you are seeking, means preparing with
research and practice just as you would prepare to make a presentation
in a class.
A good interviewer will be attempting to evaluate those qualities you have that are not revealed in your resume: what motivates you, what kind of personality you have, what you value, whether you are a leader or a follower, what your ambitions are, how well you communicate, how much career planning you have really done, etc. The interview will be a test of the preparation you have done and your ability to communicate it.
The more information you have about a prospective school district, the better prepared you will be during the interview. Knowing about the school district is vital to your interview preparation. Here's some information you should know before the interview:
In this initial phase, the interviewer and candidate usually engage in a bit of small talk in order to adjust to each other and to begin establishing some rapport. Topics might include anything from the weather to something happening on your campus or in the area. Remember, you are being evaluated from the moment the interviewer sees you, and although this first phase is often light and casual, don't underestimate its importance. It is human nature for people to form a first impression and to resist changing that impression unless the evidence is overwhelming. If the first impressions are negative, it will be very difficult to change the interviewer's mind. It is during this phase that the interviewer will sometimes tell you something about their school district, especially if they sense the need to do so.
Once the ice has been broken and some of your initial nervousness has disappeared, the interviewer will normally shift the conversation to questions about your background, often using your resume as the starting point. The purpose here is to gain information about the skills and qualifications you have, based on your work experience and extra-curricular activities. In addition, they will be attempting to reach some judgments as to your attitude, your self-confidence, and your ability to communicate and how you handle yourself ... in general, the kind of person you are. You should try to help the recruiter get the information they need. Don't make them pull all the information out of you. Keep your answers brief and to the point, but avoid "yes" and "no" answers. If the interviewer seems to want more information at certain points, then don't hesitate to elaborate further.
Matching Candidate To School District
It may be difficult to determine where this phase begins, but at some point in the interview, after the interviewer has the background information, they will begin to match your qualifications and the kind of person you are with the school district for which they are recruiting.
Normally, you will be given the opportunity at this point to ask questions or comment on what the interviewer has told you. If you have not been given this chance previously, you should have some questions in mind that you wish to ask, but don't ask questions simply to ask. Ask, because there is some important information you need to know that hasn't been covered or needs clarifying. Be aware of time limitations at this point because the interviewer probably has others to see after you. You don't want to over stay your welcome, yet you do want to end on a positive note knowing the next steps that follow the interview.
Will you be contacted further, or are you to contact the employer? If so, where? Are you to fill out an application, and if so, be certain you know when it is due. As a general rule, the more interested the interviewer is in you, the more certain they will be that you understand the next step. The interviewer will usually indicate through some verbal or non-verbal action when the interview is over. You need to be aware and prepared to end your conversation. A lot of communication breakdowns occur in the last few minutes of an interview, the candidate leaving with only a vague notion of what, if anything, is to follow.
It's important to maintain your enthusiasm in the last moments of an interview, and you should try to briefly summarize the key points brought out in the interview and the procedures to follow. This technique will give the interviewer an opportunity to verify or correct your assessment of the interview and will provide assurance that there is no misunderstanding between you.
Written by the staff of the Career Development Center at Buffalo State College.
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