Preparing for a Successful Interview
How Should I Prepare for the Interview?
Before jumping in to a full scale job search prepare yourself to be distinguished from the crowd of competing candidates. It is critical to develop personal themes that will demonstrate and showcase your qualifications and skills. Be sure that you can clearly articulate your career goals, your motivation and purpose, and your passion for the business.
Interviewing can be a very nerve-racking process. Be sure to communicate your capability, confidence and dependability through well-chosen words and body language. It may take a bit of time and practice but it will pay off during the interview.
Although your technical skills are essential during the interview process, so are your interpersonal skills, your enthusiasm for the job and your strong work ethic.
What Type of Questions Will Be Asked of Me?
Generally, there are three types of interview questions: behavior-oriented, analytical-oriented and personal-descriptor questions. Although behavior-based interviewing has become the norm, it is a good idea to practice answering all three types of questions before an interview.
- Behavior-oriented questions are designed to focus on behaviors that are critical to the success of the job. The interviewer will ask questions to find out whether you exhibit these behaviors on a regular basis. A typical question will begin with: "Give me an example of your ability to XYZ" or "Tell me about a time when you did XYZ."
- Analytical oriented questions aim to discern your analytical skills. Generally these types of questions are used by strategy consulting and high-tech firms. An example of an analytical oriented question would be "If you have nine gold bars and eight weigh the same, how would you figure out which one weighs less if you can only use the scale three times?" or "How would you begin to size the market for a new luxury car?"
- Personal descriptor questions are a more traditional method and one which most people are used to answering. Typical questions would be "Tell me a bit about yourself" or "What are your educational goals for the next five years?"
Examples of Some Typical Interview Questions
What really motivates you to perform?
What really motivates me to perform is the nature of the work itself. I enjoy my work very much, especially when I can clearly see the results in terms of customer satisfaction and an increase in sales. I tend to focus on outcomes rather than duties or responsibilities.
How do you normally deal with criticism?
I value constructive criticism because it helps me to do a better job. I am a very good listener who takes criticism seriously. If it is justified, I try to make the necessary changes. When it is unjustified, I probe the nature of the problem with questions. I have never really had a problem with criticism since I try to maintain open communication on the job. This enables me to deal with many problems before they become subjects for criticism.
What do you wish you had accomplished in your present/most recent job but were unable?
My goal was to cut customer complaints by 30%. In the past three months we have cut complaints by 25%. I am confident that given another month we could have reached our goal.
How do you get along with your supervisors?
I generally work well with everyone. I especially work well with supervisors who regularly provide feedback on my performance. I had excellent relationships with my last two supervisors who rated me in the top 5% of the workforce in terms of cooperation and performance.
For more examples of great interview questions and answers to them, you can check out "101 Dynamite Answers to Interview Questions" (Krannich) in the Career Development Center or purchase it on-line.
Be careful not to sound canned in your responses to the interviewer though.
What Type of Question Should I Ask the Employer?
Be sure to have a list of questions ready and well formulated for the interviewer. You want to show a definite interest in the company for which you will be working. Ask questions that are open ended and will shed light on your knowledge of the company or industry. This is also a great time to demonstrate your knowledge and research regarding the company. Be sure to ask appropriate questions in an appropriate manner. A badly worded question will not leave the impression you want.
Examples of Some Typical Questions for the Interviewer:
- When you think about people who tend to do well in this job, what kind of qualities do they typically possess?
- What would it take to exceed your expectations for this position?
- What are the department's/company's goals for the year?
- If hired, would I be filling a newly created position, or replacing someone?
- I hope you agree that from what we have discussed so far, I have the ability to do this job well. Do you think that some further education or training might be necessary for me to move ahead in the company?
Be sure not to address the compensation question too early! It is recommended that salary, benefits and vacation not be discussed until you have been offered the position.
What Do I Do After the Interview?
Be sure to record the name and title (or collect a business card) from anyone you met during your interview. This will be valuable information when you write your thank you letter. Be sure to express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview with the recruiter and express your continued enthusiasm about the position and the company.
After completing the interview process, be sure to look back at your responses to their questions and objectively evaluate your answers. Were your answers focused and well articulated? Were you clear and concise in your responses? What could you improve for next time?