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Do Your Homework to Get Work

Knowing how to answer these frequently asked questions will help you ace your next job interview.

You've sent out résumés and applied for numerous job openings. If you're fortunate, you've received acknowledgements, and a long period of silence has followed.

Suddenly, finally, it comes—an e-mail or phone call: "Can we talk about your interest in the job?"

Perhaps no call provokes as much elation and anxiety as an invitation to interview. In today's challenging economy with rising unemployment, just receiving an interview is a cause for celebration. Sure, this is the call all job hunters await anxiously; but now what should you do?

Handling the Initial Phone Conversation

Employers may want to speak with you on the phone before inviting you into their offices. Their calls may be simply to confirm your interest and to schedule an in-person interview, or they may give you a rigorous screening interview.

If the employer wants the initial interview to be over the phone, don't feel obligated to launch right into the conversation unprepared. You don't want the recruiter to think you've been sitting waiting for a call. It’s perfectly fine to say, "I don't have the time for a lengthy conversation right now, but I am available later today or tomorrow morning." 

Use the time you've requested to prepare some questions. When you call the employer for the first time, be prepared to ask the following:

1. What about my application prompted your interest?

2. Who will I be speaking with during the interview process? (Get the name, title, address, phone, and e-mail of either the person calling or the person interviewing.)

3. How much time will I need for the interview?

4. Will there be tests or on-the-job trials? (Some positions require tests on editing, design, or working business equations, for example.)

5. Where and when will the interview take place?

6. What's the appropriate attire? (Always dress up, even if someone tells you that the company has a casual dress code.)

7. What is the interviewing and screening process?

8. What should I do to prepare?

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