A positive attitude and confidence in your skills are keys to a successful interview. Preparing yourself for the interview day and making arrangements for transportation, daycare, clothes, having pertinent documents ready and having answers to tough interview questions are all steps in that direction.
Questions to ask yourself:
- How are you getting to your interview? Arrive early. Utah Transit Authority (UTA) (Bus, TRAX, and Train Schedules)
- If you have children, who will be taking caring of them during your interview?
- What will you wear during the interview?
- Are all your documents ready? (master job application, resume, references, etc.)
- Did you research the company?
- Do you have answers to interview questions? Predict what will be asked of you and have a prepared answer.
- How do I make a good first impression?
- Are you ready to answer the question related to your criminal history?
Important facts to know regarding juvenile and adult criminal background checks.
Practicing your interview skills with a Workforce Development Specialist can also point out strengths and weaknesses of your interview process.
We are here to help you help yourself through the job process.
Before the Interview
- Your hair should be clean and combed.
- Nails should be clean and trimmed.
- Dress conservatively. If the company does not have a dress code, remember that it's better to overdress than under dress.
- Arrive at least 10 minutes before your interview. The extra minutes will also give you time to fill out any forms or applications that might be required.
- Turn off your cell phone or pager.
- Don't assume that whoever greets you is the receptionist.
During the Interview
- Give a firm handshake to each interviewer and address each interviewer by name as he or she is introduced.
- Communicate effectively by speaking clearly and avoiding "uhs", "you knows", and slang.
- Be aware of your body language. Maintain good eye contact and posture no matter how nervous you are.
- Ask follow-up questions. Avoid questions about benefits, pay, and promotions until after you are offered the job.
After the Interview
- Shake each interviewer's hand and thank each interviewer by name.
- Send a thank you note as soon after the interview as possible.
- Make notes about what went well in the interview and what you need to improve for the next interview.
Look at each interview as practice for the next one.
The Dreaded Question
Have you been convicted of a felony? Thanks to your well-written resume, you got your foot in the door for an interview. Based on your confident answers during the interview, the employer is impressed with your skills, abilities, and motivation. Then, the employer asks, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" You freeze and think to yourself, should I lie? The answer is NO! Many employers will hire individuals with criminal history; however, employers are quick to fire a person for lying on their application or during the interview. Be truthful when answering this question and the way you communicate your situation is just as equally important.
- STATE THE FACTS. Tell the story using words the interviewer will understand, but not take offense to. Never use penal or health and safety code violations. Do not use street terms or slang. Remember, this is a brief statement which gives the interviewer an idea of what you are talking about without going into detail.
- TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS. Tell the interviewer you paid your debt to society and what you've done to remedy your situation now. This makes you appear in control and working toward the future with the company you are asking to hire you.
- NOW MOVE ON with a statement about why you want to work for the employer and the skills you have to offer. This is also a great place for your personal commercial!
- Look the employer/interviewer in the eye. You do not want to look evasive or shifty.
- KISS (Keep It Short and Simple). Do not make your conviction explanation the largest part of the interview. You are there because you can do the job.
- Tell the employer about tax credits and/or bonding they may receive or be eligible for hiring you.
Use the examples below to help formulate your answer. Practice your answer in front of a mirror until you feel comfortable with it.
Interviewer: On your application, you indicated that you have been convicted of a crime. Will you explain this to me?
- Applicant: I'm glad you asked because I want you to feel comfortable about hiring me. I want to assure you that it had nothing to do with my previous employers. I took some things that didn't belong to me, and as a result, I spent some time in jail. I used that time to improve myself and decide what field I wanted to get into. I enrolled in clerical courses and can type 50 words per minute. I am familiar with several word processing software programs and have excellent phone skills. I am very interested in learning all I can about this industry and I know I would be an asset to your organization. In this example, the applicant has spent very little time explaining the conviction in comparison to the time talking about his or her skills and abilities.
- Applicant: When I was young, I got mixed up with the wrong crowd and got in trouble for breaking into cars. We all do things when we are young that we regret. I used the time to my advantage by completing a training program in air conditioning and heating, and received my certificate. I've researched several air conditioning companies in the area and your company is well respected. I would really like to be a part of your team. In this example, the applicant briefly explains troubled past and shows genuine interest in the company.
- Applicant: In my past, I was involved in drugs, but that is all behind me and I've taken control of my life. I have two years experience in food service and want to stay in this industry and learn as much as possible. As a result of my past, when you hire me, your company is eligible for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which can save you up to $2,400. Are you familiar with this program? In this example, the applicant uses the WOTC as an added incentive for the employer to hire him or her. Before you go to an interview, write down your answer to this question and practice saying it.