Interviewing and Communication
With Prospective Employers
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Introduction: Connecting Your Learning
In this lesson, you will learn how to use the details from your résumé and application letter in your interview as a part of employment communication. Your interview will determine whether you get the position you want. Learning some techniques will assist you as you take action on your next career move.
Readings, Resources, and Assignments
Required Textbook Readings Chapter 14, “Interviewing for a Job and Preparing Employment Messages”
Multimedia Resources Textbook Companion Web SiteRequired Assignments Final Project Part 1: Essay
Final Project Part 2: Exercise
Check Prior Knowledge
Think back to a time someone interviewed you for a job opening. How well did the interview go? What might have helped it go better?
Focusing Your Learning
Official Course Competencies
• Prepare a résumé of employment credentials, and write an application letter to accompany the résumé.
By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:
1. Identify the types of interview structures.
2. Explain the steps in the interview process, explore effective responses, and identify legal interviewing practices.
3. Compose interview-related messages (application letters, follow-up, acceptance/refusal letters, resignation letters, requesting recommendations).
As you read your assignment for this lesson, pay close attention to the key terms and phrases PDF that are listed throughout the chapter. These terms and concepts are important to your understanding of the information provided in the lesson.
Approaching the Objectives
When you submit your résumé and application letter, most potential employers have you fill out an application form along with completing a pre-employment test. Some tests are very complex and are designed to screen you as a candidate for the role. In addition, the testing can help employers collect information about you to compare your qualifications with the job requirements and measure how you compare with other candidates. Read “What Job Candidates Should Know About Employment Tests” for some suggestions on how to tackle a pre-employment test.
Imagine you filled out an application and completed the pre-employment test along with your résumé and application letter a few weeks ago but never received a response. It’s appropriate to follow up and convey additional details about your education and experience related to the job. You should end with a courteous request for an interview. This reminds the employer of your qualifications and reiterates that your application is on file.
If you are fortunate enough to get an interview, keep in mind that employers conduct different types of employment interviews, and you should prepare for each in different ways. Following are some tactics that will help you be an effective interviewee and establish ways to make the interviewer take note and consider you as a candidate.
Structured interviews are planned ahead of time and follow designated business procedures. The questions are preplanned and target certain characteristics and traits pertinent to the role for which the person is interviewing. In contrast, unstructured interviews don’t have a set plan, and the interview moves freely from topic to topic. Finally, virtual interviews take place over the Internet and allow candidates from remote locations to apply for a position. Virtual communication often takes places via telephone and/or video.
A good example of a structured interview is a job fair where the interview questions are set in advance to establish whether the candidate will be asked for a second interview.
An example of an unstructured interview is an interview that occurs when a candidate submits an application for a restaurant position, and the manager asks the applicant to pop into the office right then and begins to ask questions in an unscripted fashion.
An example of a virtual interview is a scheduled video conference with a graduate student who lives in New York City and is interviewing for a position with a potential employer in Los Angeles.
In all interview types, interviewers commonly use behavioral questions. These questions assess your behavior and predict how you respond to change, pressure, challenges, team conflict, drive, ambition, logic, and creativity. The best way to approach these questions is to think them through, even pausing if needed. Also, stay professional when describing an examples, and try not to let any negative emotions spill into the response. Read “Free Sample Behavioral Interview Questions for Job-Seekers” to view examples of behavioral questions.
Here are a few tried-and-true practices to help you develop confidence in your interviewing ability and have a successful interview. Make sure to research the company where you are interviewing. You should know information about the company. Review what the company does, their history, financial reports, stock market details, and news articles to demonstrate your strong interest in a career with this company. You can find details about companies on social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, which have become popular information sources. In addition, a simple Internet search can also provide valuable information. Besides knowing about the company, you should take time to learn about the position you are interviewing for and become familiar with the role. Knowing details like the job title, qualifications, salary range, responsibilities, expectations, and the position of the role and whether it may lead to opportunities for advancement will help in the interview.
You should also analyze yourself as you prepare. Part of this process involves making certain your skills and abilities match the role you are looking to fill. Comparing your qualifications to the job requirements will allow you to speak to what things you can accomplish in the role during your interview. In addition, you’ll be able to directly tie your experiences from your résumé to those required to be successful in the role.
Before you head to your interview, you’ll want to plan what to wear in the interview and what will represent you well. Carefully planning your appearance will leave a good impression. According to “You Never Get a Second Chance,” the origin of the following quote is unclear; however, the message is important. “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Therefore, making your best effort is essential. Be sure your attire is appropriate for the role you are interviewing for. Also, arrive early and plan what you need to take to the interview. This may include a briefcase, materials to take notes, your research notes, any planned questions, your résumé, a reference list, and any written letters of recommendation you may have.
If you are interviewing for a position with a sales firm, a dirty t-shirt and jeans is inappropriate attire. A business suit or dress pants with a shirt and tie for males or skirt with a dress shirt or pants suit for females is more appropriate. It would be wise to show up with a briefcase containing the items you need and to be there 10-15 minutes early.
On the other hand, if you are applying for a construction or maintenance job, wearing a suit and tie or dress might throw you out of the running! It would be more appropriate to dress in business casual with a polo shirt and khakis for males, and casual pants and shirt for females. It would be appropriate to bring a notepad with your notes, a pen, and your résumé. Also, arriving 10-15 minutes early is advised.
You should also practice interviewing. Locate or develop a set of practice interview questions that relate to your education, experience, and accomplishments, and how well they match the job requirements. You should be able to confidently highlight your skills and abilities. Practice your communication including your voice inflection, mannerisms, and appearance. Watch Job Interview Tips – How to Prepare for a Job Interview (3:29) for additional details about making a first impression.
After you have conveyed an excellent first impression, you should flawlessly execute the interview. You want to greet the interviewer, maintain eye contact, and be polite and respectful. Monitor your nonverbal messages, including your body language. Avoid fidgeting, slouching in your seat, or doing anything that will make you seem like you are not interested.
As the interview begins, the interviewer will ask you questions, and this is your opportunity to present your qualifications. The goal is to provide evidence that you can do the job and do it well. As the interviewer brings up points that you’ve planned for and can relate to, this is the time to share them, making sure the interviewer gets a snapshot of your success, interpersonal skills, and true nature. Also, be prepared to discuss both salary and benefits if the interviewer brings this up.
Keep in mind that employers are researching potential staff by seeking out their online presence on social media sites. Carefully screen your sites to ensure your public persona represents you well. Be aware of the content in case the interviewer asks you any questions. Employers cannot discriminate when hiring based on gender, age, disability, religion, marital status, or prior legal convictions unless they are relevant to the job at hand. As a result, you should be aware of what employers legally can and cannot ask. If, after an interview, you feel any discrimination took place, you have the right to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC governs employee rights and fair working conditions.
As the interview draws to a close, the interviewer will typically ask if you have any questions. This is your opportunity to review your preparation notes and cover any questions that weren’t answered in the course of the interview. During the close, watch for signs or clues that the interview is done and carefully listen for next steps. You’ll want to thank the interviewer and communicate your interest in hearing from them again, especially if you want the job.
After the interview, you should send a thank you letter promptly (within 1-2 days) to the interviewer. This thank you letter is another formal opportunity to express your interest in the role. If the job was not appropriate, it’s still appropriate to thank the interviewer for his/her time. Even if the job was not a good fit, a thank you letter could lead you to another role within the organization or prompt the interviewer to pass your résumé to another interested party. You can send the letter via U.S. mail for a more formal organization, or choose email if you want faster delivery.
The contents of the thank you letter should be brief yet tactical. Remind the potential employer about the job you are applying for as he or she may have other open positions. In addition, you should highlight what went well in the interview and reference the next step discussed in the interview or the employer’s decision in a professional manner.
If a job offer is extended, you must decide whether you will accept or refuse it. In both cases, communication will take place typically via phone. You should always ask for the offer in a written format including all the details (salary, benefits, start date, job title, etc.). You can submit your acceptance in written form. As for a refusal, be professional and general in your response.
Telling a company that the reason you aren’t accepting their job offer is that you don’t believe their business is honest wouldn’t go over well. Instead, it would be better to thank them for the offer and express your appreciation for their interest in your past experience and success in the field. You should state you must decline as you have decided to accept another offer if one is on the table (below) or that you have decided for various reasons to pursue a different position at this time.
Dear Ms. Johnson,
Thank you for offering me the position of service coordinator with Northwest Insurance Company. After much consideration, I have decided to accept a position with another company at this time.
I appreciate the offer and your generosity in taking the time to interview me. The information you provided about your company and the position was detailed, and I appreciate your consideration.
Should you ever decide to resign from a job you have accepted, a resignation letter is a common courtesy but not always required. Sometimes a verbal resignation will suffice. In either case, it’s best to give a fair notice. The standard notice is 2 weeks. This allows the employer to make plans to hire a replacement if needed. You should never vent in a resignation letter, so do not make strong statements about why you are leaving. In addition, you should never burn a bridge, and keeping your letter professional will ensure you don’t do so. At some point, you will need to ask for a recommendation. Asking a coworker or manager for a professional reference is much easier when you have given appropriate notice. You should let your reference know where you are interviewing, the position you are applying for, any job requirements, and the deadline for the letter. If you haven’t talked with the reference in some time, you should contact the person to catch up. Also, you can provide a copy of your current résumé to help him/her with the letter as well. Once you get the job you are after, don’t forget to thank the reference for the support and help acquiring the job.
When preparing for a job search, you have plenty to consider. Take the time to get your thoughts in order and take responsible actions during and after the interviewing process. A job search helps you hone your interviewing skills and network for your future career in the process. Preparing will help you build confidence and act with integrity as you create all employment communication.
Summarizing Your Learning
The following activities are meant to help you practice the concepts that you studied in this lesson and prepare you for the graded assignments. They are not turned in to your instructor.
1. Read the assigned chapter in the textbook.
2. Review key terms flash cards.
3. Download Audio Summaries from the textbook companion Web site for on-the-go review.
4. Play “Beat the Clock” on the textbook companion Web site to master concepts.
5. Complete the crossword puzzle on the textbook companion Web site to review key terms.
6. Watch the chapter video on the textbook companion Web site to learn about communication issues at a fictitious company.
Assessing Your Learning
The following are required assignments for this lesson.
1. Read Chapter 14: “Interviewing for a Job and Preparing Employment Messages.”
2. Complete the Final Project: Part 1 Essay and Part 2 Exercise (140 points).
The Final Project consists of two parts. Part 1 is an essay, and Part 2 is a memo and thank you message.
Final Project Part 1: Essay
1. Read pages 1-13 of the research paper Future Work Skills 2020, which describes predicted communication trends and the skills required for the future workforce.
2. Applying the concepts from Chapters 1-14 and the lessons, use Microsoft Word to compose a 250- to 500-word essay that addresses the questions below. Your essay must include an introduction, body, and conclusion, and address all relevant parts of each question. Make sure to use at least two sources and cite any references you use. Proper citation format for a reference includes the name of the author(s), the title of the work, the date of the publication, and the page number. For other source types, please review the Online Writing Lab Web site for guidelines. Note: Links for various sources appear on the right side in the menu (e.g., books, other print sources, electronic sources, non-print, etc.).
What communication trends are predicted in the workplace according to the paper? Are any of these surprising? Explain your answer. Which trends are likely to affect your chosen career field most significantly?
How do the predicted trends relate to the four factors that influence business communication noted in your text?
3. Upload the file, which is the Final Project Part 1 in the Gradebook.
Final Project Part 2: Memo and Thank You
a. Assume you are scheduled for an interview for the job you applied for in Lesson 13. Write a brief (no longer than one page) memo to your instructor that identifies the company and your position of interest. Include some facts about the company you learned in your research, and generate a list of 10 questions you can ask the interviewer as a part of the memo. Make sure to cite your sources.
b. Assume you had an interview and things went very well; write a thank you message to the interviewer.
Note: Both the memo and thank you message should be composed in a single Word document.
Upload your file, which is Final Project Part 2: Exercise in the Gradebook.
Have You Met The Objectives For This Lesson?
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Interviewing and Communication