Some tips for success in a job interview
Impress for success: preparing for your interview
You applied for the job and have been called for an interview! Your next step is to prepare for your interview. You will need to be well versed in the organization and what they do. You will also need to be able to relate what makes you the perfect person for the job.
Before the interview, familiarize yourself with the organization (its culture, mission, values) and the requirements of the position. Update your knowledge about the field, trends, services and industry-specific language used, to be sure you are current and at the top of your game. Review your resume and skill sets so you will be able to draw on your work history and life experiences, and apply them to the job for which you are interviewing. Keep in mind that your goal is to showcase your education, talent, skills, abilities and experiences in a way that demonstrates how hiring you will benefit the organization. An interview is never about your needs and how working for the organization will benefit you.
Practice your responses to some typical interview questions:
Tell me about yourself
The employer does not want to know about your life. Limit your response to the information that is relevant to your ability to do the job. Discuss why you selected the field, the path you followed, a short bit about education or experience that led you to where you are today. Demonstrate your knowledge about the organization, and enthusiasm and desire to grow with the company by relating your path to their needs. Emphasize how what you bring is a natural match to what they need. A few sentences will suffice. If they want to learn more about you, they will ask. Do not talk about how this job will position you for future work. Although that might be true, do not share that.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
In a job interview it is all right to tastefully boast a bit. It is expected. If you don’t tell an employer what you do well, they have no way of knowing. Talk about your strengths relative to the job. When describing your weaknesses, consider those that helped you learn, grow or improve. Share one or two. Frame them in terms of why you think they were a weakness and emphasize what you did to turn them into a strength. Do not give an example of a weakness unless you can demonstrate how identifying and rectifying the weakness resulted in a positive outcome.
How would you describe your work style?
Your familiarity with the organization and the duties of the position can guide this response. For instance, if you will be a member of a team, it is important to describe your work style so it includes teamwork. You can say you work well individually but also enjoy working with others as part of a team. You can discuss your ability to lead a team as well as follow directions, or enjoy give and take and sharing responsibilities. Align your response as closely as you can with their needs.
Why are you looking for a new job?
Never say anything bad about your current employer or any past employers. It is appropriate to say that you feel like you have contributed as much as you can to your current job, that there are no opportunities for growth within your organization, you have acquired a wide variety of skills and want to move in a different direction which is not possible within your current organization. Share whatever makes sense for you. Keep it simple, short and positive.
Provide an example of a problem and how you handled it.
Keep this response focused on employment. Have one or two examples that resulted in a positive outcome ready to share. Be sure to include in your description any key skills you used, such as listening, communicating, planning, leading. If you have not encountered problems on the job or were not in a position to resolve them, use an example from school, membership in an organization, a volunteer position, a committee in which you participate, if at all possible.
What are your short- and long-term goals?
It is important to keep both your short- and long-term goals aligned with the organization and movement within the organization. No employer wants to spend the time and money to bring you on board only to have you leave. Your response should demonstrate that you see your future with them.
How do you evaluate success?
If you can, share a short work-related story about how you meet and exceed identified needs, goals and outcomes. What did you do for an employer, coworker or customer that led to an increase in satisfaction, production, improved performance? What did you do that made a difference? Have an example or two in mind.
What salary are you looking for?
Do some research before you go to the interview to learn what other organizations pay for this type of work in your community. Avoid giving an actual salary if you can. If the salary you mention is too high, you may price yourself out of a job offer. And if it’s too low, you may miss out on potential income. If you have to respond, respond with a range acceptable to you and based on your research. The lowest point should be the lowest compensation you would be willing to accept. You might also just say you are sure the salary is fair and commensurate with the duties of the position and you’ll be better able to respond when you learn more about its duties, responsibilities and expectations.
Why should I hire you?
This is your opportunity to restate and summarize the skills and abilities you bring to the position in alignment with what you heard the interviewer say about it. Connect the dots about how hiring you will contribute to the success of the organization so they can readily see why you are the only one for the job.
Remember, the interview is your opportunity to convince the interviewer that you are the right one for the job. That means you need to know about the job, the organization, and what you bring to the table. Your goal is to show them how hiring you will meet their needs and have them hoping you’ll accept their offer!
Andrea Edelman is a career consultant and life coach. She can be reached through www.edelmancareers.com or at
302-430-8002, or firstname.lastname@example.org.