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The Interview - A Conversation that can Change Your Career

It's a fact: When you're prepared, you're more relaxed. This holds true for the all-important interview day, as well. You may not be able to completely calm the interview jitters, but nothing will put your mind at ease like knowing you are prepared.

Being prepared starts with knowing as much as you can about the company you are interviewing with. Some good sources of information are your recruiter, the company's website or a Google search. Having a solid understanding of the company, its structure and products/services, shows you did some homework rather than just showing up.

Before you leave for the interview, make sure you dress the part. When you look good, you feel good, and you give a great first impression. Even if the company's dress code is business casual, go a step above. Being overdressed is preferable to being underdressed.

Now, you're prepared to walk in the door with confidence. But what will you say once the interview begins? Here are some questions you should be prepared to answer during your interview, as well as some you should ask your potential employer.

How would you answer these questions?

  1. What are your greatest strengths?
  2. What are your greatest weaknesses?
  3. What are you looking for in a position?
  4. Why are you interested in this position?
  5. What do you bring to this job that others don't?
  6. What motivates you?
  7. Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  8. What did you like most about your last job?
  9. What did you like least?
  10. Why did you leave, or why are you leaving your last job?
  11. What did you like least about your last supervisor?
  12. What kind of people do you find hard to work with?
  13. What kind of environment are you most comfortable in?
  14. Who else are you interviewing with?
  15. What do you know about this company?
  16. What is your desired salary?

Behavioral questions: Just the facts

More and more interviewers are using "behavioral questions," designed to help the employer make predictions about your success based on actual past behaviors, instead of responses to hypothetical questions. Here are some examples of popular behavioral questions:

  1. Give an example of a time when you had to be quick in making a decision.
  2. Give me an example of an important goal you had to set and your progress in achieving it.
  3. Give me an example of a problem you faced on the job, and how you solved it.
  4. Tell me about a situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
  5. Give me an example of when you had to show good leadership.

To respond to behavioral questions, describe the situation or task you needed to complete. Then talk about the action you took and close with the outcome or results.

Remember to be specific, not general or vague. The employer is looking for real-life examples. Don't describe how you would behave, describe how you did behave.

Questions you can ask

The interview is a two-way street and you are expected to ask some intelligent questions of your own. The following are some examples of the kinds of questions you might want to ask - but don't waste the interviewer's time by asking too many questions just for the sake of asking questions. Ask only those that are truly relevant to you in determining if the position and company are right for you.

  1. What are the skills, or strengths vital to this position?
  2. What would I be expected to accomplish in the first six months on the job?
  3. What characteristics do the high achievers in this company seem to share?
  4. How is an employee evaluated and promoted?
  5. What is the retention rate of people in this position?
  6. Do you have training programs?
  7. What are the challenging aspects of this job?
  8. What's the work environment like at your company?
  9. What is the structure of the department that this position is in?
  10. Is this a new position or a replacement?
  11. What happened to the person who held the position previously?
  12. Will I work independently or with others?
  13. What is the next step in the hiring process?

Relax. You're prepared!

Now you can relax. You're prepared for your interview! All you have to do is be your professional self in order to land the position that best suits your skills and personality. Have interviewing questions? Contact a staffing office for assistance.