Question Tips and Hints
When employers interview candidates, they can be as nervous as you are. Sometimes they have experience interviewing, and other times they don’t. They want you to do well in your interview, so they may start the interview with some chatter to help you relax. In return, you can also help them relax simply by smiling, appearing prepared, and listening to their questions.
Don’t memorize your answers. They will seem forced and rehearsed. However, it is important to be ready with solid examples of your skills and background that want to share. You can use your resume to support the answers you provide and to highlight specific examples of your work. It also demonstrates how organized and thorough you are.
The “Weakness” Question
Employers will ask you interview questions about your strengths, so make sure you know what those are. They will also ask about your weaknesses, which can unnerve some people. If they ask for a weakness, offer an answer that also describes what you have done to overcome that weakness, so it doesn’t affect your job performance.
- I sometimes have trouble getting out of bed on time in the morning. To overcome that, I have placed my alarm clock on the other side of my room. It’s very loud, so it also wakes my dog, who then wants to go outside. Once that alarm goes off, I am up.
- I have trouble with staying on tasks when there are competing priorities that need attention. I want to do it all! Now, I make a list at the end of the day before I leave work so that I know where to start the next day. I stick to that list unless my supervisor asks me to focus on something else.
Now in your guide write down how you would explain a weakness.
Then answer the next three questions in your guide. These questions will have you think about your strengths, your weaknesses, and questions you definitely want to ask during the interview.
When It’s Your Turn to Ask
When the interviewer has completed all their questions, they will ask you if you have any. Prepare several questions in advance. Try to create questions you do not think the employer won’t have answered during the interview. Go beyond obvious questions and ask about things that you really want to know about the workplace you are considering.
Modify the sample questions below that you would like to ask to suit your curiosity and industry.
- What training programs are currently available?
- Does the employer support periodic skills training for staff?
- What are the first steps for a new employee introduction?
- Which priorities require the most attention?
- Do you intend for me to be involved in immediate projects?
- What is the employee turnover in my prospective department? How is turnover company-wide?
- What can I expect during the orientation?
- Is there emergency preparedness and fire safety training? Health and wellness?
- Why do employees like working here more than other competitors in this industry?
Some Good Advice
Prepare Your Answers
If you are being formally interviewed, you can expect that an interviewer will take notes. Often, they will take many notes and grade your answers after the interview. Employers use this standard method to help them remember candidates. If you structure your answers using the G.O.S. method (Goal – Obstacle – Solution), you will have addressed the necessary information. If you can support your answers with results (for example, numbers), it will possibly improve your score.
I have nine other tips to help you along.
Expect the 50-50
One. Expect the 50-50. You need to blend speaking with listening during the interview. Most likely the employer will speak half the time, and you will speak the other half. They will be providing you with information about the firm and the role. If you talk too much, you may come across as arrogant. If you speak too little, the employer might think that you are trying to hide something. Aim for a 50%-50% balance.
Count on the 30-2
Two. Count on the 30-2. You build positive impressions when you limit statements to between 30 seconds and two minutes in an interview. If an answer takes more than two minutes to answer, you may be rambling or unsure what the question was asking. Stop and to for clarification if needed, and realize not everything needs a long explanation.
Focus on your Interviewer
Three. Focus on your interviewer. Demonstrate that you are the desired resource, but not desperate for a job. Make sure your answers, even when talking about yourself, focus on the employer’s needs. The employer is looking for someone who adds value to his or her organization, not a person who could become a problem or merely wants a salary for little effort. They want someone who cares about their operation. You have to show them you are that person.
Polish Your Portfolio
Four. Polish your portfolio. Make sure that you have your portfolio of the work that you have done and your capabilities. If you haven’t prepared a portfolio, consider building one because it brings extra value to an interview. For example, instead of stating you produce outstanding work, you can use your portfolio to show pictures of past work. You can even show work you did in school if you are new to the workforce.
If you do not have a portfolio, make sure you bring copies of your cover letter, resume, application, and references. This shows you are organized, efficient, and committed to landing a job. You will also have extra copies to offer the interviewer if didn’t bring them to the interview.
Five. Don’t criticize. A new job is about making positive changes. Do not criticize your previous (or current) employer in the interview, no matter how tempted you are. Business networks are very broad, and you don’t want a prospective employer to form a negative impression of you from the start. If you are careless, negative statements could easily get back to your previous employer.
Use the Interview to Learn
Six. Accept that an interview is part of your research about the industry, not just that particular company. Do not accept a job that seems wrong for you, conflicts with your values, or is unable to make you feel proud to work there. You probably won’t enjoy the work and will soon start searching for another.
Seven. Show empathy for your interviewer. Understand the employer’s concerns during the interview. These could include any of the following:
- Is this a candidate who interviews well but will perform poorly?
- Will this candidate be on time for each scheduled shift?
- What if this candidate is hired and trained, then leaves in a few weeks or months?
- Will this candidate demonstrate genuine effort, or just do the minimum requirements?
- What if this candidate turns out to be irresponsible, foolish, dishonest, criminal, and makes me look bad?//
Dress for Success
Eight. Dress for success. When you go for an interview, the rule of thumb is to dress one step above the position you want. If you are going after a job in the service industry, dress the way you expect your supervisor would. If you are looking for an entry-level administrative position, dress as a manager does. No matter what the nature of the job is, your clothes must be clean, pressed, and free of imperfections like dog hair and stains. Your shoes should be neat and in good repair and reflect the type of work that you do. They should be polished.
If you work in business services or are interviewing for a job that will require an industrial uniform, do not wear work clothes to your interview. Choose business slacks, a shirt with a collar, and dress shoes to complete your professional look and communicate your serious intent.
Work Your Handshake
And nine. Learn how to shake hands. When you present yourself for your interview, keep your documents in your left hand so you can shake hands easily with your right. Many people do not have a good handshake, so practice is key.
A good handshake should have a firm but comfortable grasp, thumbs locked, pump one to three times and release. Even if you are concerned about germs, you should never refuse a handshake. There are times when skipping the handshake is permitted. In certain cultures, people do not shake hands with people they do not know, men with women, or people of different social status. Know the customs of where you are.
I recommend that you practice your handshake with friends and family members who will give you honest feedback before you go to your first interview.