The following tips from the National Graduate Student Edition of Health Careers Handbook can help you prepare for your interview.
Do Your Research
Plan ahead. Prepare for your job interview by doing some research in advance. You should learn as much as possible about the company that you are applying to in order to be knowledgeable of their business, which includes their marker, customers, competitions, product, and their line of work. Additionally, it can also help you answer any potential questions an employer might ask and help you formulate intelligent questions that you have about this company.
When you come to an interview dressed professionally, you will feel a sense of confidence, while others will sense your self-assurance. Many employers interpret your appearance in terms of your knowledge of the world around you and your attention to detail. You will be judged on your appearance, so a well-groomed conservative look is preferred. Researching the dress code of the company you're applying to is also a good idea because each industry has its own policies.
Confirm the time of your interview and arrive early. Plan to arrive for your interview 10-15 minutes before the appointed time. Arriving too early confuses the employer and creates an awkward situation. By the same token, arriving late creates a bad first impression. Always ask for directions when making your appointment for the interview.
Always be prepared to bring all relevant information needed to fill out an application. At the time of your interview bring all the verifications with you, such as your proof of identity, licenses, certifications, and a list of references. If you cannot provide all the information needed, discuss it with the employer at the time of the interview. It is important for employers to see this information because an application is a legal document that proves your validity to the company.
Watch Your Body Language
A large part of the hiring decision is based on the non-verbal portion of an interview. Remember, you want to project a good first impression as soon as you enter. When you are being interview it is very important that you send out the right signals. You should always look attentive - so do not slouch in your chair. Never lie to anyone in an interview; your body language and tone of voice or the words you use will probably give you away. You have to project a positive attitude by smiling, making eye contact, and offering a firm handshake.
Tailor Your Resume
Your resume should be tailored to the specific job opening for which you are applying. To do this, you need to know the job requirements. Normally, you can get this from the advertisement itself, but you may wish to contact the company and ask to speak to the manager of the department where the job is located, or to a potential co-worker in that department. Tell them you are considering applying for the position and you would like more information about job functions and what a typical day entails. In addition, always bring two copies of your resume including a cover letter stating your interest in the position. Make sure the letter is addressed to the appropriate person in the company and that there are no spelling errors.
Emphasize Your Strengths
The employer wants to know what skills you have that qualify you for this particular job. Although you may feel that you already highlighted these areas in your resume and cover letter, it is important to re-emphasize them to the employer, and to show the employer that you understand how your skills will benefit you in this position. This is another chance for you to "sell yourself" to the employer. Choose three or four strengths that match the job description, and describe them to the employer. Give examples from previous positions or schools in which you demonstrated the skills, and point our how this would be useful to you in the position you are applying for.
Ask questions during the interview. Ask the kind of questions that indicate your interest in the company. Prior to the interview, prepare a list of three questions you can ask. You should ask questions that reflect your professional attitude and motivation.
Tying It All Together
Before the end of the interview, you want to leave on a positive note. State why you think you are the best person for the position. You should reiterate your qualifications and how your services will help improve the company. During closure, thank the interviewer(s) for their time and the opportunity of meeting with them. Be sure to follow the interview with a thank you note to the interviewers. Needs only a short note indicating your appreciation and desire to work for their company.
After about one week, call whomever you sent your thank you note to and ask if the have received it. If they have reviewed it, do they have any questions? Be assertive; ask when should you expect to meet with them again and would it be possible to schedule another meeting at this time.
Reprinted with permission from the National Graduate Student Edition of Health Careers Handbook, Copyright 2004, p.19-20, published by The Marskell Group (Publishing) Inc. All rights reserved.