The Most Important Step

If you have gotten to the point where a prospective employer is requesting an interview, you can congratulate yourself on beating out at least 90% of your competition. In today’s economy, getting an interview is almost as difficult as landing a job was twenty years ago.
However, the game isn’t won yet. Although being chosen for an interview is certainly a great vote of confidence, it’s also the beginning of a much more competitive process. The purpose of this page is to give you a few tips and prep questions that will help prepare you to make a great impression in every interview you attend. And for professional, technical jobs, there most certainly will be more than one interview. Often, they are broken into two categories:
A Skills Evaluation

Focuses more on your qualifications and what will be expected as part of the job.

A Behavioral Evaluation

More of a personality test to see how you will work within the hiring company’s culture.

Interview Prep Q and A

Q: Tell me about yourself

While it’s true that the interviewer does want to know something about your interests, your religion, your marriage, etc. try to keep these details superficial and brief. Most people see their personal lives as very important, and so the interviewer wants to get a basic feel of that, but you must be careful not to go into too much detail. After all, they really want to know about your skills and how they apply to the job at hand.

Q: What are your strengths?

This is a great time to express how your experience and skills match the job. You must be specific, but it’s also important to be succinct. Don’t spend an hour on this. Give solid brief answers backed by examples that demonstrate how you will serve them. It’s a good idea to write out several of these beforehand so you can have a quick and ready response.

Q: What are your weaknesses?

Mature people tend to have at least some understanding of their weaknesses. Which is why most interviewers ask such a question. They want to know if you will admit that you have weaknesses, and if so, how do you manage those? Is the weakness too strong to allow you to be successful in the job you seek? Therefore, you must know in advance how you will answer this question. For example, many hard workers are accused of working to many hours. Sometimes it’s the workload or it could just be a matter of poor time-management. So if you say you are accused of being a “workaholic,” temper that answer by admitting you do work hard, but that you always maintain a reasonable workload for you and your team and don’t get behind in your work. Admit one or two weaknesses, but express how your results don’t suffer because of them.

Q: Describe your management style

If the position you’re applying for is management-based, illustrate if your style is hands-on, analysis-based and if you delegate and verify results. Be specific and describe your abilities and success when you delegate, motivational strategies and how your smart analysis guides your activity. Be brief but detailed.

Q: Where do you want to be in 5 years?

This is an interesting one, because many people feel it’s a trick question. It’s perfectly okay to be ambitious, just be respectful about it. Instead of saying, “I want to run this place.” You might say, “I want to be a better (your job) and earn promotions in this company through my skills, hard work and my ability to demonstrate how I can benefit the entire organization.”

Now, there are some other types of common questions that you may face. As mentioned above, you will probably be asked to participate in what is known as a behavioral interview. This could be a separate interview or as part of the first one. The questions asked in this form of interview are more to determine your personality and how you will react in different situations. We’ve compiled a list of these for you to review. As always, it is a good idea to go over them several times and have a ready answer for each.

Tips For a Successful interview

Be prepared

This is probably obvious, but important. Before you go into your interview, do a little prep work. Go over the potential interview questions in your mind and possibly with someone if you can. Make sure you have the proper directions to the interview and leave yourself more than enough time to get there. The last thing you ever want to do is be late for a job interview. Finally, bring several copies of your resume with you, just in case.

Be confident

An employer wants someone who is confident and who has good self-esteem. The best way to communicate this is with positive eye contact. Always make eye contact when you first meet the interviewer and shake hands, as well as while talking and listening. Another way to show confidence is in your speech. Talk clearly and at a normal pace. Showing enthusiasm is great, but do so calmly and with a lot of smiling.

Know the company

Before you go into the interview, do a little homework. Visit the businesses’ website, read any recent press releases or other articles. You want to demonstrate that you are proactive about the job and the company. This can set you apart from other prospects. Along with this, it’s important to ask questions as well as answer them. Asking intelligent and pointed questions about the company and its activities will clearly show that you not only know your stuff, but their stuff too.

Know your stuff

Take the time to really know your resume inside and out. The odds are that the interviewer is meeting you for the first time and has many interviews, so they’ll ask a lot of questions about your skills. Give clear and detailed answers. If they ask what you learned from a particular job, have a few ready answers that can be backed with examples based on actual circumstances.