Prepare For Interviews
If your resume has caught the attention of a potential employer you will have to meet with them for a formal interview at some point.
Below are some important considerations to help you present yourself, highlight your experience and communicate clearly during an interview.
Before the Meeting
In order to have a productive conversation during the interview you will need to do some research before meeting with the company. Preparation should be conducted in three key areas as follows.
Research the company
Research the company and learn as much about them as you can. The interviewer will likely ask you what you know about their organization as a way to see how interested you are about possible employment with them. Some of the basic facts about the company that you should know before the meeting include:
- what the business produces including all products and services
- who the business serves (i.e.: consumers, other businesses, niche markets etc.)
- statistics such as how long they have been in business, how many offices they have and how many people they employ
Know the job requirements
Potential employers want to know how you can help them. Knowing the skills and experience required for a job before the interview, will help to get you thinking about how you can fulfill a particular job and bring value to the employer.
Carefully read the job posting and look for the following requirements:
- number of years of past experience
- specific technical skills
- soft skills such as working as part of a team, time management etc.
- any goals that they want you to accomplish while working for them (i.e.: lead a team, ensure products are produced on time, etc.)
Once you have identified these key job requirements, think back on your past jobs, schooling and other experience and write down how it relates to the job requirements. With this information be prepared to sell your skillset by discussing how you would be valuable to the company.
Prepare for common interview questions
Spend some time preparing for the following questions which are frequently asked during formal interviews:
- What can you tell me about yourself?
- What do you consider your most important skills or abilities?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why should we hire you?
- What five words would you say describe you best?
- Have you had any experience in this kind of work?
- What do you know about how this business operates?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What is it about this business or this job that interests you?
- Do you prefer to work by yourself or with others?
- Do you like routine work?
- How well do you work under pressure?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Have you ever been fired? Why?
- What is your opinion of your last boss?
- Do you plan to get additional training or go back to school?
- Where do you want to be and what do you want to be doing in 10 years?
- Are you looking for permanent or temporary work? Part-time or full-time?
- Are your hours flexible? Are you willing to work overtime, or on weekends?
- What was your favourite subject in school? Why?
At the Interview
Presentation at the interview is important. Personality and appearance can affect hiring decisions, especially when there are multiple candidates applying for the same job. So be neat, well groomed, polite, friendly, and smile.
Project the image you want through your clothes, your speech and your manners. Shake hands firmly, look straight at your interviewer and sit or stand up straight. This shows the interviewer you understand that a good image is important and conveys confidence. Answer questions clearly, and stick to the point — but don't be shy.
Show interest in the company by asking questions and learning more about their organization, products and services.
Use the research information discussed above to demonstrate how you would be valuable to the company.
See the following sites for additional information on preparing for interviews:
- UBC's Interviews - tips planning, preparing and conducting yourself during interviews.
- Okanagan College’s Preparing for Job Interviews - detailed information on assessing your skills, education and other factors when preparing for an interview. Includes sample interview questions you can use to prepare for the interview.