Whether you've interviewed for a job before or this is going to be your first time, there are some things you should know. Your presentation is very important. Don't expect to land a job looking like you just rolled out of bed (this isn't college anymore). On the flipside, there are other things you need to consider besides what suit makes you look the most qualified.
What you say and how you say it are the fundamental keys to nailing an interview. While every job is different, as well as every interview, some elements are usually consistent. You will be asked some difficult questions, and if you haven’t prepared for them, you will blow any shot you have at landing that job.
Tell Me About Yourself
Whether this question is asked at the onset of the interview or after a few minutes of general chatting about the weather, be prepared to answer it. This question is typically asked as part of a factual rundown of your resume, usually as the interviewer is reading through your resume. This question is not posed to elicit a biographical rendition of every job you have listed or an explanation about how you freed a bird from an air duct once in high school. The question is used to open up a dialog between you and the interviewer. It is a walkthrough of the basic facts you've included in your cover letter and resume. It is crucial that you know how to answer this question. The interviewer is looking for relatability between your past experiences and this position. Touch on relevant work or skill experience. If you had a job at a fried chicken place while you were in college, and you are currently interviewing for a position at an advertising agency, don't talk about that job. The exception to this is if something you did or learned at that first job put you on the path to getting this one. For example, if you were asked to design a logo for the owner and you did, that would certainly apply here. Be sure you are able to talk about yourself in this way before sitting down at the table.
Give Me A Time
There will be at least one question where you are asked to give a specific time or example of when you went above and beyond what you were expected to. You should look at your most recent job or related experience for this example. If you are interviewing for your first job ever, use an example from school. Whatever scenario you choose, it needs to be all about demonstrating that you can talk about an instance when you contributed something more than you were expected to make something happen. For example, if you were an administrative assistant and you took it upon yourself to spearhead a project to create a company policies and procedures handbook for new hires, that was something you were not expected to do. Talk about how successful it was, how difficult it was and name some obstacles you faced in completing the task. Was there a deadline that was difficult to meet? Did you have to delegate to others and monitor their progress as well?
There is a follow up to this question that you need to be cautious about: "Name a time where you went above and beyond but did not get the desired results." If an interviewer asks you this question, he or she is trying to gauge how self-aware you are. How will you answer this question and not come across as being arrogant? Don't make the answer part of a blame game. For example, if you did decide to create that policies and procedures manual only to have it rejected outright by the company, don't just point fingers at others you feel were responsible for the failure. Even if that is true and it was someone else's shortcoming that caused the project to fail, take responsibility and ownership of the failure. Talk about how you didn't have a chance to supervise someone else as carefully as you should have, or you didn't proofread the finished project as closely as you should have. Hiring managers want to know you accept that you have opportunities to grow as an employee and a person. Being flawed and making mistakes is quite common. It is the recognition that you can make adjustments that prospective employers want to hear. It is a big red flag if you cannot find any fault within yourself. Hiring managers are less likely to hire someone who feels perfect and unable to take course correction or opportunities to improve.
Who Was A Favorite Supervisor?
This question is also in the category of self-awareness and requires you to answer three distinct questions. The first of the series is, "Who is your favorite supervisor or boss, and what characteristics do they have that you wish to emulate?" This should elicit fond recollections about someone who really took the time to help you grow and who taught you how to be successful in your past position. The follow-up questions: "If I called that person, what would they tell me about you?" Now the interviewer is asking you to think about that supervisor's opinion of you. Surely you haven't chosen to speak about someone who didn't like you and would not say good things about you. The answer to this should be a resounding yes, go ahead and call and here's why. Now list all of your positive qualities and skills you developed or utilized under the tutelage of that boss. The final question is the one that will throw you for a curve: "What is something you hope he/she doesn't tell me about you?"
An interviewer is, again, looking to see if you recognize your shortcomings. There is a good chance that you were not a perfect employee and while you were a great one, there were one or two things that your boss would have preferred you did differently. Maybe you weren't as organized as he or she wanted you to be, and your organizational system consisted of piles of documents with sticky notes to separate them. Perhaps you weren't great at taking notes at a meeting and had to rely on your recollection or go back and ask for information to be repeated. Be sure to let the interviewer know the truth about what your little areas of opportunity to improve are. Again, this makes you seem human, trainable and above all else, honest.
Where Do You See Yourself?
There is typically some variation to this question asked towards the conclusion of the interview, but it has to do with your understanding of the job and the growth you are looking for. If you are interested in continuing to grow within the company, this is your time to discuss it. There are a few items to be aware of as you prepare for this answer:
Research the Company
You need to have a basic understanding of the company's structure. Take time before to look into a growth path from the job you're applying to all the way up.
If the level you want to grow to has a realistic timeframe of two years, don't tell the interviewer you plan on reaching that level in one. This kind of response shows your lack of preparation and knowledge of the company structure.
The last thing someone interviewing you wants to believe is you don't want to take a real interest in this current job. Using one position as a stepping stone to another is fine in terms of growth, but giving the impression that this job is "good enough" for now until you get the next is a definite turn-off for a prospective employer.
Ultimately, the answer to this question should be a resounding, "I see myself with your company and here's why." Get your personal experience and skills in line with the company's, and convey your want, desire and enthusiasm for using your strengths to benefit the company.
There are many uncertainties when you walk into a room to interview. Will the hiring manager be someone who is relatable? Will there be more than one person? Will they like me and think I'm good enough? The key to having confidence is preparation. Know what you can about the company well in advance. Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses in general, so you are ready, willing and able to talk about them. Be confident that you possess the skills and enthusiasm to fill this position. Emphasize your strengths while always being mindful of your weaknesses, or opportunities to grow and learn. If you are prepared and able to answer these tough interview questions, your chances of being hired will go up. Remember to always above all else be yourself. Your best self fits that company. Make sure to let that get the job for you.