Jobs Helps - Interview Tips, CV and Resume Format, Cover Letter Samples, Interview questions and Answers
Get Hired Fast - A blog about Job Interview Questions and Answers, CV and Resume Samples, Cover Letter Samples, Job tips and Articles for the fresher and expert level

How to write a Cover Letter

Like a powerful résumé and a good business suit, the cover letter is fast becoming indispensable in the job search. Perhaps no other single question is heard so frequently by career professionals… "Do I need a cover letter?"

The answer is a resounding Yes! A cover letter is an essentially a brief letter accompanying your résumé which first and foremost asks prospective employers to take their valuable time to read your résumé.

Ideally, your cover letter should match your résumé in format. It should be neither too short (one paragraph) or too long (most all of a page or more than a page). When at all possible, your cover letter should specify the date, as well as the name, title, company, department, and address of the individual for whom it is intended.

DEVELOPING A SUCCESSFUL CAREER PLAN

1) Self-Evaluation; 2) Researching your career choice; and 3) Developing a plan

"Self-evaluation"

Oh boy, what fun!? Seems today that everybody wants to 'evaluate' or psychologically 'mess' with everything we do, say or who we want to be. Ever get the feeling that regardless of what you do or who you are...someone wants to change it? Ever feel that there are countless different 'right ways', none of which seem to fit? OK, so here's another one? Nope. We don't want to mess with your skull, just point you in a direction that may help you in your job/career. Might as well do it, 'cause we spend more time on our jobs than in most other activities (unless of course you're under 30.... I think I remember that age!). 

Self-evaluation can be the start of career planning. It's basically figuring out what will fit with you. Then again, 'self-evaluation' can be just another ivory tower, 'do this or be unhappy forever' type of 'think tank' exercise. Not here. We've taken all the psycho-babble stuff, and run it through a 'translator' so it will come out practical, and useful. Then again, you do have the option of skipping this completely. 

The Interview Success Plan - Interview Gameplan

Step 6 - Interview Gameplan

Many books are available that discuss interview behavior. We could go into a review of interview behavior, but why reinvent the wheel? Among the best and least expensive sources are the guidelines available through your organization's personnel office. Why? Because the guidelines are often the basis for formal training in the organization.

Here are the tips that we've picked up in our own experience: 

  • Don’t smoke, chew gum, tobacco, or anything else.

The Interview Success Plan - Interview Day

Step 5:  Interview Day Preparation

1. Get your rest.

2. Don’t get distracted or excited by little things, don’t schedule meetings over controversial issues, or do anything that might break your concentration prior to the interview.

3. Taking into account the time of your interview and traffic, go early to find parking and make sure that you have money for parking meters.

6. Be on time.

7. Don’t take any exhibits or any reference letters. The vast majority of interview boards will not consider exhibits or reference letters. If you absolutely feel the need to take exhibits or letters, call and talk to the person supervising the interviews to obtain prior approval.

7. Usually there is one telephone number to call for information. The person answering your call may be temporary, new, or otherwise not fully informed about the procedures. When in doubt, always ask for the person supervising the interview. Write down the name of the person you spoke with and what was said. (Public Service Only)

8. Dress appropriately.

The Interview Success Plan - Inappropriate Questions

Step 4: Inappropriate Questions

A majority of private companies and public service agencies have policies regarding inappropriate questions. There are also state and federal laws which govern the hiring process. These policies are usually available from the personnel section or central human resources function.  

Interviews should be based on "job-related" criteria and questions based on those criteria.  If you've been asked an illegal question, talk to the personnel section, human resources, or an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) specialist.

Here are examples of inappropriate topics and questions:

The Interview Success Plan - Answers and Answers

Step 3:  Answers, Answers, Answers

We've found a number of ways that people use to prepare their answers to interview questions. Some people will write specific answers to as many specific questions as possible and memorize the answers. Another way is to write outline answers to specific questions and memorize the outline answers. 

Our choice is to look at categories of questions. For some categories such as the "General Experience", you can prepare an answer covering all your relevant experience. The key is to be able to think during the interview and adjust your answer to fit the question. For example, "How does your current position qualify you for the job?" is simply a variation of "How does your experience qualify you for the job?". The answers to questions on your education should always focus on the aspects of your education that are a definite benefit to the job that you’re interviewing for.

The Interview Success Plan - Potential Questions

Step 2:  Potential Interview Questions

Match the underlined words to the question headings or keywords in the Interview Question Bank. For example, many of the underlined words from the example above fall under the category of "Personal Qualities".

Read each list of questions carefully. Many of the questions are similar. We’ve tried to include as many variations as practical. Too often, people make the mistake of studying specific questions. When you study only specific questions, it’s easy to be thrown off when a different question is asked.

Review your Interview Wraps from previous interviews. Use your experience from previous interviews to help you on this interview.