Careers in Culture – Careers In Heritage

> How to ace an interview

In today's heritage workplace, there are often many applicants applying for the same job. How can you make a good impression during the interview? How can you tell an employer about your unique qualities? The keys to acing an interview are research, preparation and presentation.

Before the Interview - Put Your Research Skills to Work

Employers are usually impressed when a work applicant takes the time and energy to research an organization, the position and the skills required. Here are some research tips:

  • Visit the organization's website.
  • Call the organization and ask for its most recent annual report or any brochures or booklets it has published about its activities, services and/or products.
  • See if you can find out key information such as the organization's past successes and future goals.
  • After analyzing the organization, make a list of the skills you think it would want in an employee. Now make a list of your skills. How well do they match the employer's list?
  • Carefully prepare for possible interview questions. Write out answers and practice them with family and friends.
  • Learn more about interviewing techniques. Several websites are dedicated to interview techniques tips.

At the Interview - Put Your Best Foot Forward

Almost everyone about to be interviewed is nervous, and employers understand the pressure you're feeling. But don't let your nerves affect your presentation. Here are some ways to make a great impression.

  • Be 5-10 minutes early.
  • Dress appropriately and neatly.
  • Bring copies of your résumé and, if you've recently graduated, your transcript.
  • Greet your interviewer with eye contact, a smile and a firm handshake.
  • Be natural and let your sense of humour show.
  • Be honest. If you don't know something, acknowledge it.
  • Answer questions clearly and stay focused. Don't ramble.
  • Let the employer know what you've learned about the organization.
  • Explain why you're interested in the job and how your skills would meet the employer's needs.
  • At the end of the interview, re-state your interest in the position, ask when the hiring decision will be made, and say that you look forward to hearing from them.

Typical Interview Questions

  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why do you want to work for our organization?
  • How did you become interested in this field?
  • What are your strengths and skills? What are your weaknesses?
  • What do you see yourself doing in five years?
  • How do you think you can contribute to our organization?

An Interview is a Two-Way Street

The employer wants to learn about you, your capabilities, experience and enthusiasm. In turn, you want to know more about the position and the organization. Here are some questions you can ask at an interview. It's a good idea to write them down and bring them with you. It shows you are prepared.

  • What is the organization looking for in the person who will fill this position?
  • What are the main responsibilities of the job?
  • What would be the first project or assignment that I would be working on if I got the position?
  • Who would I report to and how many people would I be working with?
  • Are there opportunities in the organization for on-the-job training or other educational programs?

And Don't Forget the Thank-you Note

A thank-you note is a great opportunity to show appreciation and to make a good impression. It should include:

  • A statement of thanks for the opportunity to meet the interviewer.
  • A sentence that restates your interest in the job.
  • A sentence that reaffirms your belief that you're the right applicant.
  • An offer to provide further information to the hiring manager if necessary.

After the Interview - Put It All Together

You've had the interview. You feel that you did well or maybe that you could have had better answers to some of the questions. Whatever you're feeling, it's a good idea to think about the interview and see what you can learn from it.

  • Make notes on what you were asked and how you answered. These will help you build your interview skills and may come in handy for another interview.
  • If you haven't heard back from the employer within the allotted time, follow up with a phone call.