Sometimes – or more like every time – you go for an interview, your nerves make it hard to concentrate and answer questions to the best of your ability. The important thing to remember is to really listen to the questions being asked. If the interviewer tells you they want a specific example, don’t answer with a general how you would do something – it is a surefire way to ruin your chances for the job.
These types of questions are known as situational questions. If an interviewer were to say to you, “Tell us about your favorite vacation.” You wouldn’t respond by telling them about all the places you would like to go or make a generalization:
“My favorite vacation is to go someplace hot with my family and sit on the beach.” Instead, you should answer as specifically as possible including all the pertinent details:
“My favorite vacation was two years ago when I went to California with my family. We spent a lot of time on the beach. It was very relaxing.”
The second answer adds credibility. It is obvious that you are providing information from something that actually happened as opposed to making something up just to answer the question.
Potential employers are trying to gauge how you react or perform in specific situations.
Common questions that are asked include:
“Tell me about a time you led a team project.” Include what the project was, how many people, and any challenges including how you overcame them.
“Tell me about a conflict you had with a co-worker.” Only pick situations that had a positive outcome.
Employers today want to know how you are going to perform on the job before they even hire you. By answering situational questions specifically you can assure the interviewer you have the skills and thought processes that they are looking for.
If you love to talk and when you are nervous can go on and on, or if you are the opposite and clam up when you are in a stressful situation – you need to be conscious of this and not do either in an interview. When asked a question, an interview wants enough
information that will help them understand what you are talking about, but not extraneous irrelevant information.
If you are answering a question using an example from your previous or current job and there is a lot of jargon or acronyms – try to use more common place term that more people are familiar with or explain what you mean in the beginning. If you are asked to describe a time when you lead a project – explain what the project was about, how many people you managed and any key points that demonstrate what a great job you did. What you don’t want to do is get side-tracked and give details that aren’t relevant to the question. The interviewer is not going to be interested in a play by play of the entire project – they want to know your role in it.
Keep on topic; take a moment before answering a question to organize the details in your mind. You don’t want to start answering, get sidetracked and forget the point you were trying to make. If you stay on topic and know what you are going to say, you are going
to be able to keep the interviewer’s attention.
If you are a person of few words, practice with a friend or family member before your interview. Learn how to expand your answers so you give thorough information without living the interviewer wanting more. But if you are in doubt, less is better – an interviewer will ask follow-up questions if necessary.
Are you excited at the prospect of getting a new job and are thrilled that you were called in for an interview? Well, then show it when you are being interviewed! Bring an energy and attitude to the interview that will make the company take notice. The process
of interviewing is usual a long and boring one for those on the other side of the table. Do your part to make it easier for them to choose you as the best candidate.
Just think of all the people before and after you that are also going to be interviewed for the same position. If all other things were equal – qualifications and the answers to the interview questions – what is going to set you apart from the rest? You can be enthusiastic and smile when answering (when appropriate) and still maintain an aura of professionalism. You want to exude charisma and keep the interviewer’s attention. They have heard a lot of the answers already, but you can get the message across with more than words.
Someone who is excited to get a job and lets that excitement be known is going to have a better chance than someone who talks in a monotone and with little to no emotion. Don’t be afraid to smile and use phrases as “that’s great” or “wonderful” when you are told about the company. Be the type of person that the company wants to represent them and you will increase the chances of a job offer.
A few words of caution: don’t go overboard. Be genuine in your enthusiasm and be yourself. Sincerity is key or your enthusiasm could work against you instead of for you. If you are naturally bubbly by nature, tone it down a bit for the interview so you do not overwhelm your hosts.
In addition to a list of questions you want to ask and a pen and notepad you should also bring duplicate copies of anything else that you may need to provide to the interviewer. When booking the interview, ask if there is anything specific you should bring with you
(normally references is the only requirement). But if you are applying for a driving job, a driver’s abstract may be required or if you are applying as a writer you may be asked to bring in a sample of your work.
Make sure to write down the requested items to bring and make duplicates. If more than one person is going to interview you, bring one for each of them and then one more. This show forethought and preparedness. You also don’t want to make your interviewer look
bad by not being prepared if they forgot or lost your resume. Let them know that you brought an extra copy for them and hand it over.
Chances are this won’t happen, but won’t you be happy if it does and you are prepared? By brining more copies than are required, you can provide your extra copy to the other interviewers so they are not all huddled around the one copy of your writing portfolio or resume.
Even if you are not asked to bring references to the interview, take the time to type out and print copies anyway. If the interview went well you are sure to be asked for them and this again, shows that you think ahead and make the necessary preparations. Do not show up without any special documents that were specifically requested of you, if you do not think you can obtain them in the timeframe given be sure to let the person know before you arrive for the interview.
This is a good piece of advice to follow in life, but it also has a special place in an interview setting. You want to be viewed as someone who understands what is necessary and can deliver the expected results – more than just in the interview room – and making
assumptions will not guarantee you will be viewed like this.
The easiest and best way to avoid assumptions is to ask for clarification. If a question is asked that is ambiguous or you really aren’t sure what they mean, ask them to explain it to you. Sometimes, without meaning to, an interviewer will use company jargon or acronyms in a question or in conversation. You can respond by saying, “I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with that term, could you explain it to me please?” Not only will this show that you are paying attention but it will also demonstrate that you have an interest in the company and what they are about.
When you are answering a question and you need to include company specific terminology, be sure to explain what you mean. In addition, you cannot assume that your interviewer will know what you are talking about either. Take a moment to either set up
your answer with the required information to understand what you are talking about or pause and explain certain phrases or words. Better yet, if you can use common terms in the place of company specific ones, it is the preferable way to go.
Lastly, don’t assume that the job is in the bag. No matter how confident you are that you are the most qualified person for the position – it isn’t yours until you have received a job offer. Make the best impression you have and keep the mindset that you are still
competing for the job and sell yourself accordingly.
This may seem obvious, but it happens way too often. No matter the reason, there is no excuse for it (besides an injury or family emergency and then kudos for you for showing up). Getting lost, bad traffic, or losing track of time doesn’t matter to an interviewer.
They are taking time away from their primary duties to sit down with you to try and give you a job. It is rude and disrespectful to not show up on time.
Here are a few tips to ensure this doesn’t happen:
* Do a dry run. If you are going to a city or a part of the city you are not familiar with drive there a few days before. Ideally you will do it during a week day at a similar time to your interview time to gauge the amount of time it takes to get there.
* Leave early. Not just 15 minutes early, you can plan to arrive 30-60 minutes before your interview time. Don’t go into the building though. Get into the area, find a coffee shop and relax while reading the paper or reviewing your resume. Not only will this ensure that you are on time it also gives you time to relax and calm yourself before walking into the building.
* Pay for parking. Don’t circle the block 12 times looking for cheap parking on the street. Pay the money to park in a parking garage. You do not want to waste valuable time looking for parking and start to stress yourself at the same time.
If you are running late (but really, you shouldn’t be), make sure you call. The interviewer may not have time to complete the interview if you are running late and you will save both of you the time if you let them know. You can try and salvage the faux pas by trying to book another appointment right away. And if you are lucky enough to
get a second chance, follow the tips above to arrive not only on time, but early.
It may be the reason you are looking for another job in the first place – you and your
current boss do not work well together. And good for you for taking charge of the
situation to find something that is a better fit for you. But how do you approach this
situation so it will not hinder your chances at a new company? There are a few steps you
should take first and you need to mind what you say during the interview.
A lot of interviews will contain at least one question about your working relationship
with your current boss. They can take many forms and you should prepare for a lot of
different types of questions that may be asked. No matter what the question, even if it is
one asking you to describe conflict with your boss, be positive and do not bash anyone in
Remove any emotions from the equation and explain the situation using the facts and
highlight all of the professional steps you have taken to rectify the situation. Don’t try
and make your boss sound like the bad guy, and try to de-emphasize the entire event. It
may seem like an opportunity to vent about the situation but if you do, your are cutting
off an avenue to escape the working relationship you want to get away from. Present the
facts, be neutral and highlight your problem-solving skills.
If you are concerned that your current boss will sabotage your efforts to find another job
during the reference check stage you can solve this in a couple of ways. If your boss is
reasonable and the two of you just don’t work well together, chances are you don’t have
to worry too much. Be sure to give him or her a heads up though. If you aren’t
comfortable with this, try and find another manager that you have worked for in the
company previously that you can pass on as a reference.
It is completely natural to feel nervous before a job interview but you can minimize pre- interview jitters with some preparation. Hopefully you have completed initial research on the company you applied for before being called in for an interview but you are going
to need to do more. You will never know exactly what is going to be asked of you (unless you have an inside source), but you can be ready for the questions by knowing your stuff.
Look up the company website and study the history, about us page, and the products and services that are offered. Even if you are pretty sure you are not going to be quizzed on how the company came to be, it will give you insight into how the company operates and their philosophy. By of these factors should influence how you answer your questions. If it is obvious they place high value on team players, you should brainstorm situations when you have displayed this trait.
If you are applying for a sales position, you can be prepared for any role playing questions because you have taken the time to learn the company’s products and services. It will be impressive to your interviewer that you have taken the time to research the
information. It shows a commitment to details and a true interest in the company.
Another way to prepare for an interview is to complete a practice run with a friend or family member. Have them ask you questions and answer them as if you were already in the interview, don’t break character during the role play either. There are many questions
that are asked in a typical interview (what are your strengths and weaknesses) don’t let them come as a surprise to you – practice so you can answer with confidence.
Procedures are a part of life, especially in the working world. Each company has their own set of policies and rules that they expect their employees to follow. An interviewer is going to ask questions to determine if you would do things they way they want (for
instance making a sale or handling a customer complaint). Without training, you will not know with any degree of certainty how the company would want you to handle different situations but there are ways to answer that can increase your chances of getting the job.
What an interviewer is looking for in an answer is your philosophy towards circumstances that occur in the company. Your natural instincts and personality is going to come through at some point no matter what you have been trained to do. Questions like, “How would you satisfy a customer if they wanted to return something after the return policy has expired?” can be tricky to answer. The best way to answer them is to begin with saying, “Of course, if hired I would abide by the company’s guidelines – but in this circumstance I would…”
By starting your answer with this phrase you are showing that you recognize a company is going to have its own policies and ways of doing things and that you are flexible enough to modify your way of doing things to align with those processes. Even role playing scenarios for are a test to see if your way of thinking is in line with the company’s. This genre of question can backfire on you though if your answer is completely opposite what the company is looking for. If you have done your research on the company prior to the interview you should have a good idea of how they handle
customers and sales in general.
There are going to be a lot of periods during an interview when there are going to be pauses in conversation or flat out silence. This can be initiated by you or the interviewer and in most cases either is not an indicator that something is amiss.
You can ask for a moment to think of an answer and during this time there is most likely going to be complete silence. This is fine and perfectly normal, don’t get distracted because no one is talking, use the time you have asked for wisely and think of the best answer or example you can give.
If the interviewer is taking notes (and most likely they are), be comfortable with the fact that there is going to be pauses in between questions and they try and write everything down. This is actually a good thing because it means they have liked what you have to say and want to remember it when they are later making a decision on who to hire. Don’t feel the need to fill this space, let them continue writing and wait for the next question.
If you have answered a question and it is met by silence and the interviewer is not writing anything done, you may be at a loss as to what you should do. It could signal that the interview is expecting more information or they are not satisfied with the answer. You
won’t know unless you ask, “Do you want me to elaborate on that?” If the answer is no, just patiently wait for the next question to be asked.
Don’t worry that the interviewer is not praising you on your answer to each question and continue onto the next one. They do not want to give you an indication of how you are doing during the interview and are trained to be neutral when responding to answers, if they respond at all.