Interview Tips

Set yourself apart with strong interview skills. A winning face-to-face job interview can take you from candidate to new hire. Good preparation takes the pain out of the process. As you get ready, follow these tips:

  • Know your resume
  • Know your potential employer
  • Interview styles

BRING YOUR RESUME TO LIFE

The person interviewing you generally uses your resume as a guide to learn about you and your abilities. It is up to you to transform yourself from a piece of paper to an exciting candidate with a track record of adding value to organizations.
When going through the interview questions and answers, be prepared to tell two-minute success stories that demonstrate the competencies you are asked about. Good interview preparation starts with the SOAR model. SOAR helps you tell crisp success stories, and works for both behavioral and competency based interviews.

S = Scenario
O = Ownership
A = Action
R = Results

Practice makes perfect. Using the SOAR model, rehearse success stories until they flow easily and naturally.

S = Scenario
Begin by briefly describing the scenario to set the scene for the listener. For example, this interviewer is interested in learning about your experience managing a small team.
Question: "Tell me about a time when your team members were not working well together."
Answer (Set the scene): "I was managing a group of five marketing people who generally worked on separate accounts. In this case, they needed to work as a team for a national launch of a new product. When a critical deadline was missed, I discovered that 2 staff members were keeping vital information from one another, and were creating tension in the wider group."

O = Ownership
At this point, demonstrate your influence in the scenario. Use an appropriate pronoun so the interviewer is clear about your role. Continuing the example,
"It was my responsibility to immediately resolve the situation as the revised deadline was one day away."

A = Action
Present the actions you took sequentially and identify key steps without excessive detail.
"I called a quick staff meeting and reassigned the task to two people I knew worked well together. I gave the team members in conflict separate tasks that required no collaboration. I also made appointments to meet with each of them later that week."

R = Results
Give the outcomes of your actions.
"The new deadline was met and tension was eased, as soon afterwards, the issue between the team members in conflict was addressed and resolved."

KNOW YOUR POTENTIAL EMPLOYER

Interview preparation is not complete until you thoroughly research the organization. Look for trends, study financials, know about recent developments. Do not forget to check out the competition!
Do research by reading industry publications, annual reports, company websites and marketing material, talking with your networks and so on. Learn as much as you can, and use the information to develop insightful questions.

INTERVIEW STYLES

Companies and recruitment agencies use different interview styles or a combination of styles to screen candidates. Each style uses unique interview question and answer techniques. Learn to recognize them so you can handle whichever one you encounter. The most common styles are:

  • Behavioral or Competency Based
  • Preference Based
  • Ad Hoc

During the Interview

First Impressions
Your interview starts as soon as you leave your home! Realize that as you travelto your interview location, you do not
know whom you might come across. The perfect stranger you sit next to on the bus, the bad driver in the car next to
yours, or the person behind you in line at the coffee shop could be someone in the company. So take care to mind your
manners and words even before you get to the organization’s office.

  • Be early! Arrive with plenty of time, so you can use the restroom to check your appearance and take some time to calm your nerves.
  • Offer a firm, but not crushing, handshake with good eye contact as you greet your interviewer.
  • Make upbeat small talk. Compliment the office decorations or the nice weather. Do not start off by complaining about anything. Wait for the interviewer’s cue to begin the actual interview.
  • Choose the seat closest to and opposite the interviewer, if you can, to show your confidence. Otherwise, sit wherever the interviewer tells you to.
  • Be polite, enthusiastic, confident, and calm! Demonstrate your interest in the interviewer and the company!

The Question and Answer Portion
The interview is an information exchange where you will answer questions about your background and experiences. It
deals with facts, judgment, willingness, emotional maturity and manageability. In general, the interviewer is assessing
your self-esteem, business comprehension, ability to get along with others, organizational and time management
abilities, and degrees of energy and stamina. The questions may be open-ended, so your job is to fill in the blanks with
specific experiences and competencies. Your goal during the interview is to inspire the interviewer’s confidence in you.

  • Make eye contact because it demonstrates confidence. Do not stare at the interviewer because it will make her or him uncomfortable. It is natural to look away when you speak or when you think about your answer, so relax!
  • Concentrate and listen to the questions carefully. Do not worry about what you will say next so much that you miss the point of the interviewer’s question.
  • Address different interviewers accordingly. In most cases, you will meet with several levels of management. For example, the interviewer from human resources will more likely ask general questions about the company and position, while the interviewer who is your potential supervisor will ask more detailed questions about your specific skills, attributes, and experience with teamwork.
  • Observe your interviewer’s body language and adjust your style of responses as appropriate. Your interviewers will subconsciously convey their reactions to your answers in how they might sit, cross their arms, or look at you. Be attentive to such non-verbal clues. If you sense your answers are not received positively, take the hint and change the direction in which you are taking your response.
  • Be positive, decisive, confident, articulate, and clear as to why you want the job.
  • Be honest! Do not be tempted to exaggerate. You do not know what the interviewer might know about you.
  • Qualify your abilities and quantify your achievements. Don’t be vague about your accomplishments. Give concrete examples!
  •  Give examples of your skills and experiences in the form of short success "stories." Convince your interviewer of your abilities by recounting instances of how you have taken initiative, led others, made decisions, set and achieved goals, solved problems, and communicated well in the past. Be sure to be concise as you tell your success stories.
  • Pause to think about your answer! It does not earn you bonus points to answer quickly. It is more important to reflect and compose an intelligent answer. If you need more time, avoid the “uhhs” and “umms” by repeating the question, saying “Now, let me see” or “I am glad you asked that question.”
  • Treat every question as important. Every answer you give tells the interviewer something about you. Use every question to your advantage to highlight your strengths!
  • Be prepared to interview the interviewer as well. You will probably have an opportunity to ask 2-3 questions in the closing minutes of the interview. Go in with a well thought out list of questions through which you will gain a better understanding of: the organization's culture, how this function interfaces with the rest of the organization, and professional growth and development opportunities. Remember the interview is a 2-way street; you have to decide if you like the company, too!

Here are some sample Interview Questions:

Personal: 

  • Tell me about yourself. (Be prepared for this question! You will surely receive it worded in one way or another. Work up a short statement describing how your academic preparation coupled with your experiences got you interested in this industry. Focus on how you are unique).
  • Describe your weaknesses. Describe your strengths. Describe your skills. (Try to do this to your best advantage. Make it relevant to the job you're applying for and directed to the person with whom you are talking.)
  • What do you judge your major successes or accomplishments to have been? Your failures? Your major disappointments? (You have to have answers. You do not have to expose any of your personal life!)
  • Are you a leader? Why do you say you are a leader? (Give examples!)
  • How did you like your previous job? What did you get out of it? What did you learn about yourself? What was the most rewarding thing about this (these) job(s)? Why did you decide to leave it?
  • What makes you want to be a __________?  
  • What are the most relevant and specific items in your background, which show you are uniquely qualified for this job?
  • What do you think you could present that World be a stronger asset than other candidates?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What makes you want to be a ___________ ?
  • How are you doing in your present job search?
  • What other organizations are you looking into?
  • What do you expect to get out of your career?
  • What aspects of a job are most important to you?
  • What are your goals for the next 4-5 years or ten years from today?
  • What is your greatest accomplishment to date, and why?
  • What do you consider to be you weakness?
  • What do you consider to be your strength?
  • How would you define success?
  • Describe a situation in which someone was unhappy with your performance and how you responded.
  • Do you read, speak, or write a foreign language?
  • How would you spend your spare time?
  • Tell me about the way you work under pressure.
  • Describe a team experience and your role on that team.

Job- Company- Industry:

  • Why are you interested in this field? This particular organization?
  • What do you think you'll be doing in the position you're applying for?  What do you think this job requires and how do you match those requirements?  What do you think the responsibilities of a __________ are?  Why do you think you're suited for __________?  Note: Many of the interviewer's questions may sound like a musical theme with variations. They may repeat themes to see if you're consistent or because you need to expand your answers.
  • How do you judge a company when you are looking for a job?
  • In addition to the company literature we sent out, what sources did you use to find out about us? What have you actually read? To whom have you spoken?
  • What have you read about our company and products lately, outside of information in our material—in magazines, on TV, etc.?
  • In your research on our company, a) Do you see any specific problems we have? b) Is there any division in our organization that you are most interested in?
  • What do you consider to be the most important skills for this position?
  • What personal characteristics are necessary for success in this field?
  • What is your understanding of this industry?
  • Where do you see our industry heading?

General Questions:

  • Employers may invite you to visit their place of business and spend a day meeting with a range of people. During the last interview of the day you may be asked about how your day went, whom you saw, what you discussed, what impressed you, etc. You should have some notes as to what went on (names of people, their positions, topics covered, etc.) so you can discuss this intelligently, even though you're very tired and eager to leave.
  • Women may be questioned more extensively about their motivation and direction as well as about their aggressiveness and ability to handle a tough situation.
  • Remember, after each answer you give, the interviewer may very well ask, "Why?" Be prepared to give reasons for everything. 

Remember, the Interviewing process is not just for the employer to decide; it is a chance for you to decide if you like the company, too!

Potential Questions to ask during the Interview:

  • What kind of person are you looking for?
  • Please describe the job responsibilities for me.
  • How often are performance reviews given?
  • What do you do in the typical workday?
  • What are your major responsibilities?
  • What do you deal with?
  • How many hours do you work in the average week?
  • Beyond the statistics, what differentiates your firm from other firms?
  • Has your firm shown substantial and consistent growth?
  • What is the financial condition?
  • Are there any plans for expansion?
  • Who are your most immediate competitors?
  • What would you say are the objectives or the “the mission” of the organization?
  • What do you like most or least about this organization?
  • What are the training opportunities available in the company?
  • What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the firm in the next five years?