The first part of interview preparation is research. The idea is to learn as much as possible about the organisation, its philosophies, goals and future plans. In almost every interview situation, the question is asked: "What can you do for this company?"
How can you answer this question if you don’t know anything about the firm? Once you learn about the company, you can get a much better "feel" for how you might fit in. Then, during the interview, you can use this information to your advantage. Are they a fast growing company? Then explain how your experience working with fast-track firms would benefit them. Are they quality-oriented? Then make them aware of your personal commitment to quality. Do they do a lot of work with charitable organisations? Then tell them about your volunteer experience. Your goal is to show them that you are like-minded, that you understand and agree with their philosophy, and therefore, would be a good addition to their team.
Another benefit of your research is this: By showing them that you’ve taken the time to research their company, you demonstrate by example that you are the type of person who gives 110%. Most candidates don’t know anything about the companies they interview with. They don’t know their products, their philosophy, their position in the marketplace or anything else about them. So show them that you are different… show them that you are better than other candidates who don’t have the time or good sense to conduct some basic research. Preparing yourself for interviews by researching prospective employers also gives you a certain control of the situation - and if you have some control, you’re much less likely to feel nervous or edgy.
Another key component of interviewing is to KNOW YOUR STRONG POINTS. If an employer asked "Why should I hire you?" would you know how to respond? Are you aware of your marketable skills? Can you provide a one-minute sales pitch on yourself?
Here’s how to do it: Start with a blank sheet of paper and make a list of your qualifications for the job you want. This might include years of experience, education, special training, technical skills, "inside" knowledge of a product or market, etc. This list could also include transferable skills like communication, leadership, organisation, accuracy, detail-orientation or work ethic. Now, look at this list objectively. Which items on this list are most valuable to your potential employer? Which items might be perceived as weaknesses, based on what your competition might offer? After you’ve refined your list, use this information to write a brief "sales pitch" that describes your qualifications for the job. Organise your information in a logical fashion, repeat it OUT LOUD and refine it until it comes out smoothly and naturally. To interview well, you must believe in yourself and be able to verbalise your best qualifications with conviction.
Next, I want to discuss the importance of BEING PROACTIVE. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions, how will you respond? Here’s another situation where your research comes in handy. When asked if you have questions, you can respond: "Well, I know from my research, that ABC Company is planning to expand into the international market. How might that affect my job?" If you are replacing an existing employee, you might consider asking what your predecessor’s biggest challenges were. You could also ask about opportunities for advancement, availability of corporate training programs, plans for expansion, etc. Develop some relevant and intelligent questions, write them down and be prepared to ask them at the appropriate time.
- Re-read your résumé prior to an interview. Make sure you’re thoroughly familiar with its contents, realising that it is the potential employer’s outline of your career - and in most cases, the basis of questions asked during the interview.
- Be prepared to answer any questions regarding gaps in employment on your CV! Plan this out so that you can explain your career to date thoroughly.
- Dress for success. Look the part of the position you’re interviewing for. Be meticulously groomed and take the time to properly organise any paperwork you bring along (i.e., extra résumé copies, letters of recommendation, references, performance evaluations, questions).
- Do whatever it takes to arrive on time. Check out the address and parking facilities BEFORE the interview date.
- Go out of your way to be polite - not only to the interviewer, but also to the receptionist or secretary. •Use a firm handshake, direct eye contact and a friendly smile; demonstrate a sincere interest and enthusiasm for the job.
- Always display loyalty to your former employers… no matter what they did (or did to you) never, never, never say anything negative about them.
- Maintain a positive attitude and believe in yourself!
General Interview Tips
Well, its that time again. Time to prepare yourself for the journey that lies ahead. It can be a little scary, but with the proper preparation you will do much better. Below are some general tips to get your focus on track. With a few interviews you’ll be on your way!
Plan Ahead - Do a little homework! Research the company and the position if possible, as well, the people you will meet with at the interview. Review your work experiences. Be ready to support past career accomplishments with specific information targeted toward the companies needs. Have your facts ready!
Role Play - Once you have finished studying, begin role playing (rehearsing). Use the general questions provided below in the Interview Preparation Area. Write down answers if it helps to make your presentation more concise. Try to keep your answers to the information your new employer will want to know.
Eye Contact - Maintain eye contact with your interviewer. Show you want the job with your interest.
Be Positive - In particular, avoid negative comments about past employers.
Adapt - Listen and adapt. Be sensitive to the style of the interviewer. Pay attention to those details of dress, office furniture, and general decor which will afford helpful clues to assist you in tailoring your presentation.
Relate - Try to relate your answers to the interviewer and his or her company. Focus on achievements relevant to the position.
Encourage - Encourage the interviewer to share information about his or her company. Demonstrate your interest. Some suggested questions to ask the interviewer are provided in the "Questions You Could Consider Asking the Employer" section.
Questions you may be asked in the interview
- Tell me about yourself? (try to hold your response to 2 minutes)
- What do you know about our company?
- Why should we hire you?
- What can you do for us that someone else can’t?
- What do you look for in a job?
- What skills and qualifications are essential for success in the position of ______?
- How long would it take for you to make a meaningful contribution?
- How does this assignment fit into your overall career plan?
- Describe your management style.
- What do you believe is the most difficult part of being a supervisor of people?
- Why are you looking for a new career?
- How would your colleagues describe you?
- How would your boss describe you?
- How would you describe yourself?
- What do you think of your present or past boss?
- What were the five most significant accomplishments in your last assignment?
- What were the five most significant accomplishments in your career so far?
- Can you work well under deadlines or pressure?
- How much do you expect if we offer you this position?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What other positions are you considering?
- Have you kept up in your field with additional training?
- What are your career goals?
- What are your strong points?
- What are your weak points?
- How did you do in school?
- What position do you expect to have in 2 to 5 years?
- If you took the job what would you accomplish in the first year?
- What was wrong with your current or last position?
- What kind of hours are you used to working or would like to work?
- Do you have your reference list with you? (Remember don’t give it out unless it is asked for).
- Can you explain your salary history?
- What questions didn’t I ask that you expected?
- Do you have any questions for me? (See Questions for the Interviewer that you might want to ask below).
By practicing your responses to some of these questions, hopefully you will not be taken off guard if asked one of them.
Questions you can ask at the interview
- Why is this position open?
- How often has it been filled in the past five years? What were the main reasons?
- What would you like done differently by the next person who fills this position?
- What are some of the objectives you would like to see accomplished in this job?
- What is most pressing? What would you like to have done in the next 3 months.
- What are some of the long term objectives you would like to see completed?
- What are some of the more difficult problems one would have to face in this position?
- How do you think these could best be handled?
- What type of support does this position receive in terms of people, finances. etc?
- What freedom would I have in determining my own work objectives, deadlines, and methods of measurement
- What advancement opportunities are available for the person who is successful in this position, and within what time frame?
- In what ways has this organisation been most successful in terms of products and services over the years?
- What significant changes do you foresee in the near future?
- How is one evaluated in this position?
- What accounts for success within the company?
- Do you feel that I would fit in to your organisation?
These questions are presented only as interviewing guidelines. They are meant to help you prepare for the interview. Some questions may or may not be appropriate for your interviewing situation.
Question 16 is VERY important to ask at the very end of the interview. It shows the employer that you are committed whilst also enabling you to gauge their reaction – whether you have performed well/otherwise. The candidates who ask this stand a much higher chance of securing the position
DO YOUR BEST……THAT IS ALL YOU CAN DO!