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On-line Job Hunt

The On-Site Interview Part 1

On-line Job Hunt Written by Kellie Carlisle

This is the first of a two part series on on-site interview techniques. I thought no on-line job hunt column would be complete without offering advice on how to land the job once you have scouted it out. Due to the length these two features, the Site of the Week will be postponed until the series is completed.

Although most of the information within this feature is from research, my personal experience and professional peers, some information in this feature was obtained by permission by Lee Hecht Harrison.

Many times subsequent interviews involve meetings with other individuals in the organization to gain their approval before an offer is made. These meetings are called approval interviews and usually involve other managers and supervisors. These individuals will be working with you either inside or outside the department as you perform the responsibilities of the position. Use the same strategy for controlling these interviews as you used with your original online or phone interview(s). Approval interviews are of equal importance in terms of a hiring decision.

Guidelines for Interviewing

  • Research the company before the Interview to find out about its reputation, size, products, history, philosophy, corporate culture, as well as the names and titles of the decision makers that you should meet. In addition, try to get information about the position for which you are interviewing and the people for and with whom you would be working.
  • Based upon your research, prepare several questions about the company that you can ask during the interview.
  • Plan to arrive at the interview a little early to get a sense of the company philosophy and culture and to review company materials such as annual reports, papers, and magazines.
  • Conduct yourself with optimism and enthusiasm from the moment you walk into the company. Remember the names of receptionists, secretaries, and assistants for follow-up purposes. Be courteous and personable.
  • Know exactly who will be conducting the interview, her or his name, title, division, and line of authority. Try to determine this information before the interview or during the first few moments of the Interview.
  • Establish how much time is planned for the interview.
  • Uncover as much information as possible about the position and match your responses to support the employer's needs.
  • Don't dominate the interview; control the meeting by being prepared with the information and the agenda that you intend to cover.
  • Always respond to an interviewer's questions with positive answers.
  • Postpone salary discussions if possible. If you are pressed to give your salary, avoid giving a figure. You might lose your leverage for future negotiations. Instead, give a range based upon your total compensation.
  • If you are asked to lunch, accept the invitation. Do not to order a drink even if others do.
  • Take your research notes on the company, your previous correspondence, a list of questions you intend to ask, and several copies of your resume. Take a separate typed list of references in case you're asked for them.
  • If you are asked to meet with other people in the organization, determine their relevance to the position as well as their names, titles, divisions, and lines or authority.
  • If your spouse is asked to participate in a formal interview, or informally at a luncheon or dinner, make every effort to honor the request. Prepare your spouse for this participation by providing relevant information about the people involved and the position for which you are being considered.
  • Before concluding an interview, make sure all of your questions are answered. Know, if possible, what other steps are to be taken and what the timing is for filling the position, including when you can expect to hear the results of the interview. Show interest and enthusiasm for the position by asking for a tour of the facilities, asking to meet with someone else who might influence the hiring decision, or by offering to call back in a stated period of time.
  • Close the interview by stating something similar to, "it would be helpful to know if there are any reasons I wouldn't be considered a final candidate." This needs to be stated from a more passive than assertive stance so the interviewer is not offended. The purpose is to find out if there are any key qualifications you forgot to sell or if there is a potential area of weakness you may need to know about for future interviews.

Traps to Avoid

  • Watch out for habitual signs of nervousness such as laughing, fidgeting, or squirming. Everyone is nervous during an interview, but you can control the amount of nervousness you display.
  • Be confident rather than focusing on the possibility of rejection. Focus on what you can do for the employer.
  • Never be critical of a company or the performance of any of its employees. Above all, refrain from speaking negatively about a former supervisor.
  • Rather than arguing, speak confidently. Keep the discussion friendly and open.
  • It can be difficult, yet worthwhile, to avoid displaying any irritation with delays or interruptions. No one wants to work with a hot-head.
  • Help the interviewer run a good interview whether she or he is good at it or not.
  • Avoid apologizing for situations you can't change or for which you aren't responsible, such as your age, education, or work history.
  • Never lie or exaggerate. Employers aren't interested in people who don't tell the truth.
  • Admit it if there is something you don't know. No one is totally knowledgeable.
  • Avoid telling "war stories' or giving long descriptions of 'what happened when," unless you've been encouraged to do so.
  • Never smoke, even if the interviewer says that you can.
  • Avoid expressions such as "like" and "you know" or too many "er's" and "uhm" In short, take your time and think before you speak.
  • Think before you answer a question; not all questions have easy answers. Interviewers are suspicious (and rightly so) of glibness, canned responses, or of simplistic solutions.
  • Never underestimate the influence of a personnel department employee or some other non-decision maker. Rather than seeing this individual as someone who is unimportant, view him or her as the gatekeeper to the person you want to see.


Many people are concerned about what questions an employer can appropriately ask. In addition to inappropriate questions, there will be questions which are of a sensitive nature. It is important to keep in mind that not all interviewers are well trained or knowledgeable about which interview questions are legal and appropriate. Before you take offense to an interview question, remember that while managers should understand which questions can be asked, not all have gained this knowledge.

Another important consideration is that once a question is asked, you must determine how you will respond. Even if a question is illegal or sensitive, it requires a response of some sort. How you respond will say a lot about you as a person. A general guideline about legal interview questions is that questions should be job related.

Questions that could be discriminatory include the following:

  • Birthplace
  • Age
  • Birth date
  • Nationality
  • Race
  • Arrest record
  • Marital status; plans for having children
  • Ages of children, child care plans
  • Height and weight
  • History of drug or alcohol addiction
  • Hobbies and activities
  • Sentiments about unions

Disabilities or Physical Limitations

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and American Disabilities Act are intended to protect individuals under the law. The hiring manager should be aware of these laws and ask questions that do not violate them. However, not all hiring managers are up to date on these laws.

There are several questions that are inappropriate to ask.

The following are some examples:

  • How long you have lived at your present address?
  • Do you rent or own your home?
  • Who lives in your household?
  • Have you been arrested, have wages been garnisheed, or have you filed bankruptcy?
  • How do you spend your spare time?
  • Do you speak or write a foreign language (unless it is a requirement for the position)?
  • Information about your military discharge.

What Questions Can be Asked of You

An interviewer can ask job-related questions including questions that ask your impression of previous jobs or supervisors. The following questions can be asked:

  • Why did you leave a previous employer?
  • What kind of reference you would be given by a former employer or educational institution?
  • What do you like/dislike about a previous job?
  • What do you think about prior supervisors?
  • How did you get along with supervisors?
  • Information about wages, pay increases, and promotions.
  • Have you paid for insurance coverage?

The problem with an inappropriate question is that once the question is asked. You need to decide how to respond. Suggestions include the following:

In a polite way, ask how the question relates to the job.

EXAMPLE: "Is there a concern about this that relates to the position?"

Determine what is behind the question. For example, if someone asks about child care, the concern might be whether you will be absent from work. You can respond to what's behind the question rather than the actual question.

EXAMPLE: "If you are concerned about my attendance at work, in the last five years I have not missed any work due to my children."

Tactfully ask how the question relates to the job.

EXAMPLE: "I'm not sure how this question pertains to the job we are discussing."

Practice responding to these questions in case they are asked. You will want to be viewed in a positive and professional way. If you answer the question well, you will communicate your professionalism.

Next Time

Interview questions.

Questions to ask the company.

The five spokes of successful interviewing.

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Copyright (C) 1994 - 1997 by Virtual Press/Global Internet Solutions. Internet Daily News and its respective columns are trademarks of Virtual Press /Global Internet Solutions.

departmental relationships.
  • What has the turnover rate of the department been?
  • Is this position open?

    Checklist - before the interview

    1. · Personal preparation
    2. Research
    3. Paperwork

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    Copyright (C) 1994 - 1997 by Virtual Press/Global Internet Solutions. Internet Daily News and its respective columns are trademarks of Virtual Press /Global Internet Solutions.