For those transitioning out of active-duty service or for those who are inexperienced with the process of applying for a new job, the prospect of interviewing for a job can be daunting, but coming prepared can make the difference between who gets hired and who does not.
“It is important to be prepared for an interview because interviews can be intimidating and stressful,” said Edwin Robinson, 56th Force Support Squadron Airman & Family Readiness Center community readiness specialist. “However, you can expect to ace an interview when you know what’s coming and thoroughly prepare for it. Preparation often determines who gets the job.”
Hiring managers want to learn whether candidates are motivated, qualified and are a good fit for the position, he said. Manager’s main objectives are to access one’s abilities in relation to the position, discuss one’s training, experience and knowledge in detail, and most importantly, to discern the applicant’s motivation and drives.
“Prior to getting interviewed, research the company, be aware of what the employer is looking for and make sure you are qualified for the position,” said James Knuckles, 56th FSS A&FRC community readiness specialist. “Also, anticipate possible interview questions and practice answering them.”
Additionally, it’s essential to ask what type of interview and process it will be.
“Find out ahead of time how the interview will be structured,” Robinson said. “Ask questions such as ‘Will you be meeting with an individual or a panel, and is this the first of a series of interviews?’ Don’t be afraid to ask about these details before the interview so that an unfamiliar situation won’t catch you off guard. One of the best ways to reduce anxiety is to know you’ve done all you can to be ready.”
Secondly, rehearse success stories, Robinson said. Success stories sell one’s qualifications since it tells specific examples of one’s educational and work-related experiences demonstrating one’s qualifications and achievements.
“Look over the job description and your resume to determine what skills, training, personal characteristics and experience you want to emphasize during the interview,” Robinson said. “Then prepare a success story for each one. Incorporate numbers, such as dollars saved or percentage of sales increase, whenever possible. Your success stories should be detailed but brief. Think of them as 30-second sound bites.”
Along with preparing for an interview one should also bring a resume.
“A resume is expected to showcase a candidate’s strengths and minimize weaknesses,” Robinson said. “Although resumes have standard parts, their arrangement and contact should be strategically planned. A customized resume emphasizes skills and achievements aimed at a particular job or company. It shows a candidate’s most important qualifications first and it de-emphasizes any weaknesses.”
When designing a resume, there should be as few headings as possible, Robinson said. More than six can make a resume look cluttered. Also, include the categories such as the main heading, career objective, summary of qualifications, education, experience capabilities and skills, awards and activities, personal information and references.
Once the first draft is completed, Knuckles advises to have a multitude of people review it for mistakes and proper grammar.
The day of the interview Robinson recommends dressing professionally.
“What you wear to a job interview still matters and if you know you look sharp, you will feel more confident,” Robinson said. “Even if some employees in the organization dress casually, you should still look qualified, competent and successful. Avoid loud colors and strive for a coordinated, natural appearance. Favorite power colors for interviews are gray and dark blue.”
During the interview Robinson advocates using the following tips:
- Listen attentively to the questions being asked by the interviewer.
- Be enthusiastic and interested but sincere. Avoid sounding bored, frustrated or sarcastic during an interview.
- Avoid empty words. Try not to fill answers with verbal pauses such as “um, uh, like,” which shows lack of preparation.
- Avoid chewing gum. Chewing gum is distracting and unprofessional.
- Smile. Practice with a friend to determine if there is too much smiling or not enough.
- Exhibit good posture. Sit erect, leaning forward slightly. Don’t slouch but at the same time, don’t look stiff or uncomfortable. Good posture demonstrates confidence and interest.
For more information or to learn more about interview preparation and resume writing, the A&FRC is offering a resume building class 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Feb. 7 in Bldg. 1113. The class will cover guidelines for building resumes to include length, emphasis, details, writing styles, layout and design, as well as what not to include in a resume, creating a scannable resume, federal employment resumes and writing cover letters.
For more information or to register, call 623-856-6550.
The next A&FRC job fair will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 8 at Club Five Six. A variety of companies will be there to include the Arizona Department of Revenue, the Social Security Administration, Penhall Company, Empire CAT, Lockheed Martin, Walmart Stores Inc., Verizon Wireless, Tucson Police Department, Manpower U-Haul International, Hospice of Arizona and the Arizona Department of Transportation.