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The 4 P's of a Successful Interview

You've got the interview! Now you may be worried about how to make the positive impression that will get you the job. Using the 4 P’s will increase your chances for a successful interview.

Know yourself
You increase your confidence when you know what you can contribute to the organization and what you want from the job. You also demonstrate to the interviewer that you are purposeful and reflective—qualities employers want employees to have.

Identify your assets and qualities by making a list of your
skills and competencies
values and needs
personal characteristics.

Know the organization and the job
Learn all you can about the organization and the position you're interviewing for. Knowing this information shows you're motivated and keenly interested in the company. The following suggestions will help you get started:
Study the organization’s website. You'll get a feeling for how it operates and how it views its employees. Check out
the latest annual report
recent news releases
the vision statement and goals

If you can’t find the information online, call or visit the organization and ask for the latest brochures, annual report and other publications.
Be sure you know what the position requires:
Review the job posting.
Ask the human resources department for a job description.
Find out more about the job from an employee in the company.
Talk to someone in your network who does similar work.
Visit Alberta Work Search Online for information about researching employers.

Know your accomplishments
Interviewers want to know about your track record for achieving results—they often use your past performance to predict your future success. Keep this in mind during your interview and take opportunities to demonstrate your accomplishments. Here are some tips to help you prepare:
Create a master list of accomplishments from your work, leisure and volunteer activities, and include the results you achieved.

Review your accomplishments. Which are related to the requirements of this position?

Write down questions the interviewer might ask. Put yourself in the interviewer's shoes and think about what you would want to know about a potential candidate. For help with this suggestion, visit the Interviews & Offers tab at Alberta Work Search Online.

Describe situations that illustrate your accomplishments using the Situation, Task, Action, Result and Skills (STARS) technique. To learn more about the technique, check out the Analyzing Your Accomplishments worksheet.

The interviewer wants to know how your skills, knowledge and experience match the needs of the position—and also how well you communicate. Practicing what you're going to say and how you’re going to say it will help you communicate clearly and confidently.

It's best not to memorize questions and answers. Instead, develop key points that you want the interviewer to know about you, based on your preparation. You can practice using these key points to respond to a variety of questions.

It's also important for you to ask relevant questions during the interview. Make a list of three things you want to know about the position or the organization and practice asking questions about them. Make sure you couldn't be expected to know the answers to these questions from your research. It’s a good idea not to ask questions about salary, vacation or other benefits until after you receive a job offer.

You’ll make the most of your practice time if you record your sessions so you can see and hear how you perform. It’s also a good idea to role-play the interview with a friend.

How you present yourself in the interview—your appearance, your attitude, your body language—is vitally important. You don’t get a second chance to create a first impression! These suggestions will help you show your enthusiasm and motivation in the interview:
Smile and extend your hand to shake hands with the interviewer when you meet.

Sit straight with your feet flat on the floor, leaning slightly forward to show interest.

Make eye contact—interviewers will expect you to look them in the eye with confidence.

Watch the interviewer's body language and expressions for feedback on how you're doing.

Listen closely to the questions so you can answer them accurately.

Be direct. Don't ramble or go off topic.

Take time to think before you respond.

Give all your attention to the interview and the interviewer—this tells the employer you are focused on your commitments.

Be positive
Most people feel anxious about a job interview. You can choose to be positive and confident, even if you’re nervous. Pretending to feel confident, even when you actually don’t, will have a positive effect on both you and the interviewer.

You may be able to decrease your anxiety by realizing that an interview is a meeting between two equally important parties with the goal of sharing information. The employer wants to find out if you can do the job and if you will fit into the organization. You want to find out if you should contribute your skills and knowledge to the organization, if you can learn and grow in this position, and if you will be respected and compensated for your contribution.

After the interview, be sure to follow-up with a thank you note that emphasizes two or three reasons why you’re the ideal candidate for the position.

Using the 4 P’s will help you present yourself confidently and professionally in your next job interview. Each interview that’s a positive experience moves you closer to the interview that lands you a job.

Other Relevant Tips
How to Answer Typical Interview Questions
Be Prepared for Behaviour Descriptive Interviews - Using the STARS Technique
Interview Questions and Your Skills
Questions to Ask at a Job Interview
For more, visit the TIPS home page at

Additional Reading
Positive Works II published by Alberta Employment and Immigration and  Advanced Techniques for Work Search and Work Search Basics published by Alberta Human Services. For copies of these publications:
download an online copy or order the publication from the ALIS website at
visit the Alberta Career Information Hotline website at or call 1-800-661-3753 toll-free or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton
visit your local Alberta Works Centre. To find the centre nearest you, go to the Career Services Near You page on ALIS at or call the Alberta Career Information Hotline.

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