Job Interviews

When preparing for job interviews, it is important to know what to expect. There are some measures that can be taken to prepare for any type of interview, while other preparations can be made in anticipation of a specific kind of interview. Be sure you know what kind of interview will be conducted so you can be ready.

General Preparation

  • Do your homework. Study up on the position, the company and the industry. Learn about the requirements of the job. Find out about the company’s products, services and mission statement. Read about recent innovations in the industry.

  • Practice answering questions. In all job interviews you will be asked about your background, experience and qualifications. You may also be asked to respond do hypothetical situations and problems. Write out your answers, but do not memorize them. Instead, focus on remembering the main points and speaking extemporaneously about your accomplishments.

  • Prepare to ask questions. Your questions should focus on broadening your understanding of the position and the company, and should highlight your enthusiasm for the job and the research you conducted.

    Types of Job Interviews

    In a traditional job interview questions are broad-based and may include questions such as, “Why are you interested in this position with this particular company?” and “What are your greatest strengths?” The questions are designed to show whether the job seeker has the qualities and skills necessary to perform the job, whether they are enthusiastic, and whether they will work well with the team and the organization.

    In a behavioral interview you will be asked to tell about specific projects and problems you have faced in the past with questions such as, “Give me an example of how you have worked within a team” and “Tell me how you dealt with an unexpected problem.” To prepare for these job interviews, brainstorm a list of scenarios where you faced challenges, worked well with others or learned something new. If you have limited work experience, consider how your hobbies, volunteer work or school projects may be used to illustrate your skills.

    A case interview is primarily conducted by management-consulting firms who are interested in hiring graduates of a business program. The questions in these job interviews focus heavily on analyzing a specific business case. Interviewees will be presented with a dilemma facing a company and will be asked to analyze the problem, identify the key issues and formulate a plan for dealing with the situation. It’s a good idea to paraphrase the question back to the interviewer to be sure you have understood the scenario correctly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – case interviews tend to be interactive and insightful questions show an interviewer that you understand the importance of having all the facts.

    Some interviewers may conduct job interviews over the phone before asking to meet in person. You can prepare for this by giving detailed, accurate contact information in your cover letter. When the interviewer calls be sure you are in a quiet place with good phone reception where you will not be interrupted. Allot plenty of time for the interview so you do not have to cut it short. Have your resume in front of you so you can answer questions about your experience and accomplishments. Because the interviewer can’t see you, it might also be a good idea to have notes prepared with key points you want to remember.

    The Day of the Interview

    Researching the company and practicing questions and answers should begin long before the actual interview takes place. However, there are several important ways to prepare on the day of any type of interview.

  • Double-check the date, time and location of your interview. Plan your route and give yourself plenty of time to get there early.

  • Make sure your dress, posture and manners are professional at all times. It might sound silly, but even phone interviewees should follow this advice. Although the hiring manager can’t see you, your businesslike dress and posture will make you feel and sound like a professional.

  • Send a thank-you note to everyone who interviewed or assisted you. This shows professional courtesy and will set you apart from other candidates.

    No matter which type of interview is conducted, it is important to prepare thoroughly for the experience. No one wants to be caught off guard by a question or scenario they haven’t considered. Job interviews can be stressful, but with the right preparation you can survive the ordeal and even triumph.

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