By MedHunters Staff
Like so many social and professional situations, first impressions count. Make your first interview with a prospective employer a deal-maker. Whether it's on the phone or in person, there are some important things to consider. For in-person interviews, here are some hints:
The Night Before
Make sure you've done your research on the employer. Read the employer profile and visit the employer's website.
Prepare a list of questions that were not answered by your research.
Think about the possible questions the interviewer may ask and consider your responses.
Put your list of questions, a copy of your résumé, and the job description (if available) in a folder to take to the interview. Also bring original licenses, copies of diplomas and pertinent certificates, and names of references and/or copies of reference letters or performance evaluations.
The Day of the Interview
If possible, wear a suit or, at least, a suit jacket. First impressions are lasting – Err on the side of overdressing.
Be on time. Punctuality is all-important. If anything, be early.
Be prepared to complete the employer's own application form when you arrive. (They may require an application form in addition to your résumé.)
First impressions count with everyone you meet, so be courteous and friendly with all the people with whom you interact.
Go to the interview alone. Arrange babysitting, if you have young children, and if a friend or spouse accompanies you, they should not accompany you to the interview room.
Don't be a no-show. If you are no longer interested or are unexpectedly unable to attend, be professional and give the employer the courtesy of a telephone call to say so.
Shake hands, make eye contact, and smile. Sit straight and naturally in the chair.
Let the interviewer direct the conversation.
Think of the situation as being before a judge: don't talk too much – stick to answering the questions clearly. Ask your own questions, when they are relevant to the conversation.
Use concrete examples to demonstrate your skills and experience.
Be prepared to answer the following questions: Have you ever been convicted of a crime for which you haven't been pardoned? Can you show proof of your eligibility to work in this country? Can you perform the job's essential function? These questions are legal, and an employer has a responsibility to know. In the unlikely event that illegal questions (about your plans to have children, your sexual orientation, your religious beliefs, etc.) are asked, indicate as politely as you can that these questions are not relevant or legal (except in rare cases, such as in applications for overseas jobs; in these cases, if you don't answer, you may not be considered for the job).
If you had difficulties at a previous job (with the work, the staff, the pay, the hours, etc.) and are asked, explain your position honestly and frankly. Your ability to get along with people will be a key consideration in the hiring decision.
Unless the interviewer brings it up earlier, leave salary and benefits discussions to the end of the interview. At this time, do not be afraid to ask questions that are of real concern.
In salary discussions, try not to be too specific regarding your expectations. If they are too high, you will eliminate yourself from consideration. If they are too low, you risk underselling your abilities. Don't make a final decision until you have considered the specifics of the job, the salary, the full range of benefits, and the cost of living. If you have to spend $300 a month in parking fees, the job may be less attractive than a job where parking is free or paid. If you want to do a Master's degree and an employer offers tuition reimbursement, then the perks can add up, particularly if it's on an after-tax basis.
The End of the Interview
If you are interested in the job, but the employer does not make an offer during or at the end of the interview, inquire about the next steps in the process and when you might hear from them. Make a summary statement about the job and why it would suit your interests and abilities.
If you are offered a position, thank them and ask for some time to consider the offer. Ask permission to contact them with additional questions. Even if you think you are not interested in the job, it would be best to consider your decision outside of the pressure of an interview – what is it about the job that is making you think it's not right? Is there a trade-off of any kind (e.g., a slightly lower salary but better hours)?
If you are asked to come back for another interview, write down the name of the person with whom you are going to meet, the time, and the interviewer's telephone number and email address. (You will want all of this information at hand, in case you have to reschedule your appointment).
Thank the interviewer.
After the Interview – Do a Postmortem
Make notes about what points you made, what points you wish you had made, and what points you wish you hadn't made.
Ask yourself if you learned all you needed to know about the position.
Did you talk too much? Too little?
Did the interview go well? How do you know? Did you feel relaxed, confident? Did you share a laugh with the interviewer? Did you get the impression the interviewer was attentive, interested, enthusiastic, encouraging?
Think about the interview objectively. Remember: practice makes perfect and interviewing is no exception.
Interested in the job?
[Write the Thank-You Email]
Write to the interviewer and make a summary statement about the positive aspects of the job, but point out why it is not what you are looking for. Be explicit about what you are looking for. The interviewer may have such a job in the future. Since healthcare workers are in high demand, there may be a temptation to be careless in the way you treat a future employer. One of our clients told us a story about a candidate whom, after a telephone interview, they had flown in for an in-person interview. They liked her and offered her the job. She accepted but then failed to show up and didn't even contact them. They had no idea what had happened to her. Two months later, she called the employers explaining that she'd "changed her mind" and would now like to have the job. Our astounded client said "too late!"
Always do research in advance and take every interview seriously: show you have knowledge of the employer and the ability to articulate your experience, skills, and goals. Being prepared allows you to ask better questions and demonstrate your interest to the employer.
8 Common-Sense Interviewing Tips
1. Know what you want:
Research the employer. Read the job posting. Make sure the job fits your career requirements.
2. Write it down:
Bring a list of questions to the interview and write down the answers! Write a confirmation email to the employer regarding agreed specifics so you have them on the record.
3. Be positive:
Make sure you can cast all of your past experiences in the best light. You can be critical but make sure you learned something positive from the experience.
4. Be prepared:
Mentally review all possible questions before going to an interview and think about your answers beforehand. Give yourself time; say, "that's a good question" and try and reframe the question to answer it in the best way possible!
5. Be natural:
The better prepared you are, the more natural you will appear. Try not to sound rehearsed.
6. Answer stupid questions politely:
If you are asked a really stupid question, try to control yourself and answer as politely as you can. You may want to ask for clarification if you can't believe what you're hearing. Don't judge the entire organization by a single individual, but, if you encounter more than one, start considering whether this organization is right for you.
7. Let the interviewer direct the conversation:
The interviewer should set the tone for the interview and direct the conversation. Don't talk too much. Try to answer the questions directly and keep your answers focused.
8. Give yourself time to review an offer:
If you are made an offer in an interview, ask for time to consider the offer. An offer should be made in writing with a full listing of the salary and benefits. If you decide to take the offer, remember to include the full listing of the salary and benefits offered in your acceptance. Remember, any reduction in salary or benefits at a later date, unless there is a legal re-negotiation may be considered wrongful dismissal so you will want to keep copies of all correspondence and records.