Minnie Holguin, SHRM-SCP
Chief Human Resources Officer
The Public Information Act
Texas Government Code, Chapter 552, gives you the right to access government records; and an officer for public information and the officer’s agent may not ask why you want them. All government information is presumed to be available to the public.
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Conduct research on the Employer, Department, Hiring Manager, and the Position Responsibilities
For success, start with a solid foundation of knowledge. Be sure to understand the employer, department, requirements of the position and the background of the person/people interviewing you. With knowledge, your ability to answer questions will end in greater success and confidence. It will also increase your ability to ask meaningful questions.
Review common interview questions and prepare responses
It is always a good idea to prepare responses to expected interview questions. Inquire as to the type of interview to expect by asking your contact person in the organization or department HR liaison. Compose detailed yet concise responses, focusing on specific examples and accomplishments. A great way to remember your responses is to comprise them into story form that you can tell during your interview. Not necessarily memorizing your responses but developing talking points.
Dress for Success
Plan out a wardrobe that fits the organization, department and its culture, striving for the most professional appearance you can. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Ensure your clothes fit and are clean and pressed. Always keep jewellery and accessories to a minimum (you don’t want to distract those conducting the interview). Try not to smoke, drink coffee or eat something offensive right before the interview. If possible, brush your teeth, eat a mint or use mouthwash.
Arrive on Time for the Interview and be prepared
There is no excuse for arriving late for an interview other than that of a disaster or an emergency. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early before you scheduled interview to complete paperwork and allow yourself time to get settled and read through your material. Arriving early also gives you the opportunity to observe the surroundings of the workplace.
The day before the interview, pack a few extra copies of your resume or CV and reference list. If you have a portfolio, presentation or samples of your work, bring those too. Even when planning to give a presentation, have copies of those prepared (you never know when equipment may not be functioning. Remember to bring a few pens and a pad of paper to take notes.
As you arrive, be sure to turn off your cell phone and no gum please!
Make a good first impression to everyone you come into contact with
Be polite and offer greetings to everyone you meet – from the parking attendant, receptionist to the hiring manager. Many times employers are curious of how applicants treat staff members. You can easily derail your interview by not showing courtesy to staff.
At the time of the interview, keep in mind that first impressions are the ones interviewers make in the first few seconds of greeting you. Make a strong first impression by dressing well, arriving early, making eye contact, smiling and offering a firm handshake.
Having a positive attitude and expressing enthusiasm for the job and the organization are critical in the initial stages of the interview. People typically have an impression of you within the first 20 minutes of meeting you.
Be authentic, upbeat, focused, confident, candid, and concise
Once the interview starts, the key to success is the quality of your responses. You want to be authentic and truthful, while providing focused responses that showcase your skills, experience and fit. Be sure to provide solid examples of solutions and accomplishments.
No matter how comfortable you may become, never badmouth a previous employer, boss or co-worker. The interview is about you and you making the case that you are the ideal candidate for the job.
Remember to pay attention to your body language and avoid bad habits
While the content of your interview responses is imperative, poor body language can be a distraction. Some effective forms include smiling, good eye contact, solid posture, active listening and nodding.
Not so effective body language include slouching, looking off in the distance, playing with a writing instrument, fidgeting, continuously brushing back hair, touching your face, eating, chewing gum and mumbling.
Ask insightful questions
Always prepare questions to ask days before the interview, adding additional queries that might arise from the interview.
Sell yourself throughout and close the deal
It has been said that the most qualified applicant is not always the one who is hired. The applicant hired is usually the applicant who is best at responding to questions and showcasing his or her fit with the position, department and organization.
You are a salesperson and the product you are selling to the employer is your ability to fill the organization’s needs, solve its problems and propel its success.
As the interview comes to an end, be sure to inquire about next steps in the process and the timetable the employer expects to use to make a decision about the position.
Thank the Interviewer(s) in Person, via email, or postal mail
Again, common courtesy and politeness go a long way in interviewing, therefore it is important to thank each person who interviewed you. Writing thank-you emails shortly after the interview will give you an edge over any of the other finalists who did not bother to send thank-you’s.