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The 4 Ps of Interviews

You've got the interview! Now you want to make the kind of impression that will get you the job.

Use these 4 Ps to present yourself confidently and professionally:

  1. prepare
  2. practice
  3. present
  4. participate

1. Prepare

Being ready for the interview will boost your confidence and increase your effectiveness.

Find out about the organization and the job youre applying for. Having this information will show the interviewer you're motivated and keenly interested in the position. Use the following suggestions to find the information you need:

  • Study the organization’s website. Get a feeling for how the organization operates and how it views its employees. Look for the latest annual report, recent news releases or the vision statement and goals.
  • If you can't find information online, call or visit the organization and ask for its latest brochures, annual report and other publications.

Be sure you know what the position requires.

  • Review the job posting.
  • Ask the human resources department or hiring manager for a job description.
  • Find out more about the job from someone who works for the organization.
  • Talk to someone in your network who does similar work.

Identify the positive qualities you bring to the job. Knowing your positive qualities will raise your self-confidence. Make a list of your

  • skills and knowledge
  • interests
  • values
  • personal characteristics

Identify your accomplishments and be ready to talk about them. Interviewers want to know about your track record. They often use your past performance to predict your future success. Here are some tips to help you prepare: 

  • Create a master list of accomplishments from your work, leisure and volunteer activities. Include the results you achieved.
  • Review your accomplishments. Identify which ones are related to the requirements of the position.
  • Put yourself in the interviewers position. Write down questions you would want to ask a potential employee.
  • Practise describing situations that showcase your accomplishments. Use the STARS technique to describe the Situation, Task, Action, Result and Skills.

2. Practice

Practising what you’re going to say and how youre going to say it will help you speak confidently. Its a good idea not to memorize what you want to say about your skills and accomplishments. Instead, figure out which key points you want to focus on.

Review the questions you came up with and the situations you described for the 1st P—Prepare. Decide which situations would make good responses to the questions. Practise answering the questions using STARS descriptions of your accomplishments. 
Record your answers so you can see and hear how you perform. 

Remember that an interview is also an opportunity for you to ask questions. List 3 things you want to know about the job or the organization. Practise asking questions about these things. Don’t ask questions you should know the answers to. And leave questions about salary, vacations or other benefits until after you receive a job offer. 

Role-play the interview with a friend, if you can. This will help you feel confident and comfortable about what you want to say.

3. Present

How you present yourself in the interview is vitally important. Your interviewers will be observing everything about you—your appearance, your attitude and your body language. It’s normal to be anxious, but acting confident even when you arent can have a positive effect on you and on the interviewer.

These suggestions can help you present yourself in the best possible light:

  • Dress the way you expect the interviewer to dress. Be clean, neat and well groomed. 
  • When you meet the interviewer, smile, introduce yourself and shake hands firmly. Stay standing until youre offered a chair. 
  • Sit up straight with your feet on the floor. Leaning back can make you seem uninterested, while sitting on the edge of your chair can make you seem tense. 
  • Except when you're making a point, keep your hands still in your lap or on the arms of your chair. Don’t cross your arms. 
  • Make eye contact.
  • Smile when its appropriate.

4. Participate

The interview is your chance to show your positive attitude and your communication skills. These suggestions can help you shine:

  • Turn off your cellphone when you arrive and leave it off until you leave.
  • Use a pen and paper to make notes, rather than a laptop or other device. 
  • Follow the interviewers lead. Even unusual or irrelevant questions get asked for a reason. 
  • Listen closely to the questions so you can answer them accurately. If you dont understand a question, politely ask the interviewer to rephrase it. If you don’t know the answer, say so. 
  • Take a moment to think before you answer a question.
  • Be pleasant, sincere and direct.
  • Stay on topic. 
  • Avoid answering with only “yes” or “no.” Try to figure out what the interviewer wants to know and answer with that in mind. 
  • Follow up after the interview. Send a thank-you note or email that emphasizes 2 or 3 reasons why youre the best candidate for the job.

Use the 4 Ps and be ready for your next interview

Using the 4 Ps will help you make a strong first impression in your next interview. Each interview thats a positive experience moves you closer to the interview that lands you a job.


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