Prepare For An Interview2018-05-15T14:55:25-07:00

How to prepare for an interview

Preparing and practicing your answers for typical interview questions allows you to rehearse the best possible answers. The better prepared you are, the more confident and self-assured you will sound, and you’ll likely avoid some common interview mistakes or answering with “Um… um… I am not sure.”

How to prepare your answers
•Research the company and role you are applying for. Often in an interview, the interviewer will ask “What do you know about the company?” and if you are able to answer them you will show the interviewer that you prepared and are interested.
•Review the job description and think about how your experience relates to the job requirements.
•Research any terms or statements you are unsure of, so when your interviewer asks “How have you utilized SEM best practices?” a blank look won’t be your answer.
•Practice, practice, practice. Practice alone or with someone so you can get used to hearing your answers and tweak them accordingly.
•Answer questions positively, honestly, directly, with an example when possible and avoid long run-on sentences. Make sure you have examples and statistics when possible, for example:
•I implemented a new call centre approach that reduced errors by 23%.
•I really enjoy working with people and I am very strong in training others. I created a new training handbook that was so well received, other branches started using it as well.
•Have questions prepared to ask the interviewer about the company and role.

Interview Answer Don’ts
•Don’t be negative. Respond with positive statements without sounding like a peppy cheerleader.
•Don’t mention salary or benefits unless you are asked by the interviewer.
•Don’t divulge anything overly personal or not relating to the position. Talking about how your pet snake takes up a lot of your free time probably won’t get you hired.
•Don’t talk about sex, gender, religion, race, politics, etc.
•Don’t mention anything that might conflict with information in your resume.

Describe yourself.2018-05-03T15:36:56-07:00

Your description should be honest and concise, and make sure to mention personal traits that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Your answer should show the interviewer why you are the best match for the job and company.
•“I am a hard-working person who loves working with people. I really enjoy being in sales because I get to use my outgoing, fun-loving personality and persistence on a daily basis.”
•“I am organized and efficient. This allows me to be very productive in my job.”

Tell me what you know about this company and why you want to work here.2018-05-03T15:38:54-07:00

Again, do your research and be prepared. Talking about the great benefits they offer, may not be your best answer. Instead, think about what you can uniquely bring to the company.

If you know the company is very innovative: “I know XYZ has a very innovative approach and I am a creative, out-of-the-box thinker who loves finding solutions to difficult problems.”

Questions about your work history, skills and qualifications that are written in your resume.2018-05-03T15:40:02-07:00

Interviewers expect a candidate to be able to answer questions about their employment history in detail. Be prepared to tell the interviewer the names of the companies you worked for, your job title, your starting and ending dates of employment, reasons for leaving*, your job responsibilities and sometimes even your salary for each role.

You’d be surprised how many job applicants fumble when asked about prior employment. Don’t be one of them! Refresh your memory prior to the interview by reviewing your resume so you can accurately speak about your prior work history in detail.

*Think about your reasons for leaving each company and do not speak negatively about your former employer. Beware of your answer! For example, if you left a company because of low salary, termination or a bigger challenge, think about how your answer may appear to the interviewer. Most employers are seeking employees with a history of stability and growth and they may be concerned about hiring you and having you leave them for the above-mentioned answers.

What were your expectations when you were hired for position X?2018-05-03T16:17:42-07:00

The best way to respond is to discuss what your expectations were when you took the job, and give examples of how the position worked out for you. If the job wasn’t exactly what you expected, it’s fine to mention that. However, you should focus on the job itself, not the company, your boss, or your colleagues (if they were a problem). Be careful how you answer and don’t focus too much on the negative. Instead, address the highlights of the job.

When responding, be specific. Prepare some examples to share with the interviewer in advance. For example, if your job involved creating Web applications, discuss the specific programs you developed and the responsibilities you were given. If you were provided training and opportunities for professional development to help you achieve your goals, mention that as well.

Why are you applying for this position, what are your expectations and how can you contribute?2018-05-03T16:18:41-07:00

This is where reviewing the job description before the interview is important. Why did you apply on the position? How do you feel your experience and skills will make a difference to the position? The interviewer basically wants to hear a pitch as to why you are the best candidate they will interview for the position.

What challenges did you face in position X?2018-05-03T16:19:39-07:00

When asked this type of question, always include specific examples of how you handled a particularly difficult situation. Discuss how you researched the issue and contributed to finding a solution.

What was your biggest accomplishment/failure in your last position?2018-05-03T16:29:33-07:00

Think of scenarios/instances that YOU had an impact on that relate to the position you are applying for. Avoid mentioning accomplishments that you only had a minor part in. If you didn’t fail at anything, say so. If you can think of an example, be sure that it’s a minor one and turn it into a positive.

“I was working on a project that had a very short deadline and lack of resources. I initiated a meeting that led to getting the team to do additional hours and to come up with creative solutions to adjust the workload and get ahead of schedule.”

Tell me about a mistake that you have made. What did you learn from this mistake?2018-05-03T16:33:11-07:00

Think about a mistake that you made that is significant enough to mention, but not so damaging that you wouldn’t be hired. Employers hear “I don’t make mistakes” all the time and know that this is not true. It is better to be honest and put a positive spin on how you learned not to repeat the same mistake twice.

•“I always double check my work to avoid making mistakes and almost always catch a mistake before it becomes critical. However, one time, I forgot to XYZ. I have learned to set my work aside for a few minutes and look it over again with fresh eyes.”

•“At the beginning of my career, I had a hard time asking for help. When my manager gave me too many projects at once, I didn’t say anything and was unable to complete one project by my deadline. I have since learned to communicate the status of my projects and prioritize with my supervisor not to miss a deadline.”

What did you like and dislike about your last job/supervisor/company?2018-05-03T16:34:01-07:00

Focus on the positive. When you’re asked what don’t like about your previous job, don’t be too negative. You don’t want the interviewer to think that you’ll speak negatively about the new job/supervisor/company. Instead, speak about your skills and what you’re looking for in a new role.

I had a nervous candidate apply for a sales position and in the interview he told me that he didn’t really enjoy talking to people and was pretty shy about calling them on the phone. He then later told his recruiting agent that he couldn’t understand why he didn’t get the job! Your answers should take into consideration the position and company you are applying to.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?2018-05-03T16:34:52-07:00

Sell yourself! This is not the time to be humble, but you have to be confident without sounding arrogant. Think of true, concrete strengths that you can tie into an example. Saying you are dynamic in a monotone voice will worry an employer about what else you are lying about, plus it’s an answer they hear time and time again.

•“I am very good at reading people, which has greatly helped me in interactions and meetings with peers and clients.”
•”I am a good listener and often, in meetings, others will come up with ideas and I can tell when I should promote my idea and when I should encourage someone else to take the lead. People appreciate this give-and-take nature in communications and dealings with me.”

Saying that your biggest weakness is that you are a perfectionist comes across as insincere – employers have heard the same canned answers from hundreds of candidates. Be yourself and be memorable. Spin your weaknesses into strengths or show how you have improved upon them.

•“I am a very impatient person, which is one of my greatest weaknesses, but it is also my greatest strength. I like getting things done quickly, efficiently and properly the first time. My body language sometimes shows that I am impatient, for example, when I am waiting for people who are late to a meeting. But I have learned to bring reading materials, extra work, etc., with me so I have something else to focus on when I am feeling impatient.”

Tell me about a conflict with a manager/employee/colleague.2018-05-03T16:36:43-07:00

Be careful answering questions about problems or issues with people. You don’t want to come across as difficult, and you want to cast any past experiences in the most positive light possible.

•“I had a rough start with a manager once because we had different expectations for the flow of the workday. Once we talked about it, we realized that our goals were compatible, and we were able to work together very successfully for several years.”

•“I would say that I have never really had a problem working with anyone. I try to find a common ground and get along with everyone’s different personalities.”

Why did you leave/are you leaving your last job?2018-05-03T16:37:25-07:00

Regardless of why you left, don’t speak badly about your previous employer. The employer will wonder if you will badmouth them. Nobody wants to work with a negative person.

•“Unfortunately, there isn’t any more growth possibilities in my current position and after discussing additional responsibilities with my manager, they are just not possible and I am ready to move on to a new challenge.”
•“I am looking for more responsibilities and did not want to job hunt while at work. It didn’t seem ethical to use my former employer’s time and I had set aside some savings so I could look for a job full-time.”
•“I would like my career to go in a different direction and my current employer does not offer the opportunities I am looking for.”
•“I would like to use my technical skills and experience in a different setting/way.”
•“I would like to take on additional responsibilities and I am ready for a new challenge.”
•“I left my last position to spend more time with my family. My circumstances have changed and I’m more than ready for full-time employment again.”
•“I am seeking a position with a stable company with room for growth and opportunity for advancement.”
•“I was spending a significant amount of time each day commuting. I would prefer to wok closer to home.”
•“I wasn’t actively looking, but, I saw this job posting and was intrigued by the position and the company. It sounds like an exciting opportunity and an ideal match with my qualifications.”

Why were you fired/laid off?2018-05-03T16:40:30-07:00

Keep your answer honest, simple and move on to discuss how your skills fit the position you are applying for.

•“The company had to cut costs and, unfortunately, my job was one of those eliminated.”
•“In retrospect, being laid off was a blessing in disguise. I now have time to actively seek a job opportunity that is a better match for my qualifications and interests. Would you like to discuss my XYZ skills?”
•“My competencies were not the right match for my previous employer’s needs, but it looks like they’d be a good fit in your organization. In addition to sales and advertising, would skills in promotion be valued here?”
•“A new manager was hired and he decided to bring in members from his old team. I am taking this opportunity to seek a role that will better suit my XYZ skills.”
•“I usually get along with everyone, but unfortunately, my last boss proved to be the exception to the rule and we were not able to find common ground. I have a lot of respect for her, but I am hoping to find a better fit with my next supervisor.”
•“The company had several rounds of layoffs, but the last one included me. I have taken this time to research the types of companies I would like to work for and I am very interested in your company because of XYZ.”
•“I was actively looking for a job and was a bit too hasty in my decision and anxiousness to work in marketing. I have learned to not be so quick to take the first offer and make sure I explore all of my options. I am looking for an environment that is team-oriented, innovative and fast-paced.”

What have you been doing since your last job?2018-05-03T16:41:16-07:00

If you have an employment gap on your resume, the employer will probably ask you what you have been doing while you were out of work. Have an honest answer prepared. It doesn’t matter what you were doing as long as you have an explanation. Watching YouTube videos all day long is not an appropriate answer! You will want to let the interviewer know that you were busy and active, regardless of whether you were out of work by choice or otherwise.
•“I worked on several freelance projects/contracts, while actively looking for employment.”
•“I volunteered for a program that assists disadvantaged children.”
•“My aging parents needed a temporary caregiver and I spent time looking after them.”
•“I worked as a stay-at-home parent and volunteered at my child’s school.”
•“I took some continuing education classes and workshops to further my knowledge on XYZ.”

What are your pet peeves?2018-05-03T16:42:44-07:00

This question is usually asked to determine if you would be a good fit with the company culture/team/supervisor. Think of a pet peeve that most people have and that you handle well.

• “I don’t love when people are late, but I understand that things can happen. I bring extra work with me and/or my agenda so I do not waste time while waiting.” (Do not give this example if your interviewer is late to the interview!)
• “Not too many things bother me. I am easy-going and I like working with people who have different strengths and weaknesses; it allows us to collaborate really well.”
• “Not too many things bother me, but if something really did, I would talk to the person privately and calmly to work out the problem/situation together.”

If I were to interview your past employees, how would they describe you and your management style?2018-05-03T16:43:21-07:00

Think about the company culture and the type of role you are applying for. Are you applying at a corporation where a more directive leadership style might be appropriate? Or are you applying for a role in a more collaborative environment? Make sure your answer is honest and covers what type of manager you would be if you were hired.

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