Getting The Job: Tips For Nailing The Interview
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By Mia Bolaris-Forget
Perhaps you’re a new husband or wife, a new mom or dad, moving into a new home whatever the case or reason, with fall upon us, kids, going back to school and adults back to work this “new” season is a great time to begin a new season in your life, and that may just mean starting a new job.
If you think starting a new career is “difficult” just think about how “difficult” it first is to find one (a new job that is). According to experts however, the difficulty may not be that you are not qualified, but rather that the competition if fierce and, while you may have mastered the skills required by the industry, you many not have mastered answering the tough questions posed by employers.
According to professionals the first step in being able to successfully handle a job interview is to gain confidence in yourself and in your abilities, and that includes your abilities to handle stress, pressure, and the “anxiety” and tough questions you’ll be faced with (during your interview). One of the best ways to achieve confidence, they note, is by doing your homework. Find out as much as you can about the company, the job/position and the duties it entails. In fact, industry experts recommend allocating a minimum of three hours (preparation time) for each interview.
Consider preparing answers to the most commonly asked questions and reviewing your response and delivery out loud. You should then, based on your research of the company, draft some (pertinent) questions of your own. Taking this approach demonstrates to your interviewer that you are serious about your job/career, and that you are interested in the company and all it has to offer.
Finally, professionals suggest that you practice “getting” to work. Get up, get ready for work, and leave at a time you think you’ll need to leave at (if you get the job) just to confirm directions, and how much time it will take to get to work (on time) during morning rush. You may even want to linger in the parking lot (or close by) or in the lobby (of a larger company or corporation) to get a general idea about general protocol including accepted grooming and attire, etc.
Keep in mind that interviewing, while it may seem “tricky” and “complex”, is basically based on a standard format for all employers. Despite some slight variations, the questions asked are fairly similar, and most of the time, getting the job is simply a matter of being able to answer them correctly, giving the specific interviewer the answers he/she wants to hear, and how you are perceived. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
And, remember, half the battle is knowing what to expect. Here are just a few of the most common question (and their preferred answers).
Tell me why we should hire you: Especially if you are applying for a sales position, here’s your opportunity to shine and really sell yourself. Be careful not to say too much, or to sound too rehearsed. Anyone can say they are motivated and a good worker. Impress your interviewer with some facts, such as sales figures or accomplishments from a previous position. Remember that while you may want to embellish, make sure you sound sincere and realistic. Exaggerations (even if they are close to the truth) can be easily detected and leave your interviewer skeptical. Remember, it’s best to stay true to your personality and abilities, and to focus on those qualities and characteristics that make you unique and the best candidate for the job.
Why do you want to work for us? Your interviewer already know that it’s most likely because you need a job, the money, and they happen to be one of the companies (maybe in your field, maybe not) currently hiring. You don’t need to explain “that” part. Employers generally ask this question to see how much you know about the industry and the company and how good of a fit you will be. With regards to this question, experts emphasize the importance of being thoroughly prepared. Having done your research will enable you to impress with statistics about the company, it’s market position, what it’s noted for, when it was founded, and it’s general direction, etc and to illustrate how your experience and qualifications are an ideal fit.
Tell Me About Yourself: This question may not be as easy to answer, as it seems. Remember, you potential employer is not necessarily interested in your personal life, interests, they are interested you solely on a professional level, and are seeking to find out about your abilities and accomplishments. Experts suggest selecting a few key (professional) points about yourself (that you are proud of) and emphasizing those. Conclude by stressing how you feel you could contribute to the company, corporation, and/or organization, and express your desire to become part of the company. Having a solid and well thought out response to this question allows for your interviewer to ask you to extrapolate and YOU the opportunity to elaborate your qualifications.
Tell Us About Your Greatest Weaknesses: Not owning up to weaknesses can actually work against you than for you. The best way to answer this question is to be honest about a shortcoming of yours but emphasizing how you have turned a “negative” into a positive and how it has become a strength. Discuss how you may have had a problem with criticism, but learned to accept advice graciously and how you implemented others’ suggestions and actually improved your overall performance. Offering an honest answer and a positive outcome allows employers to appreciate you as someone who recognizes the need for improvement and as someone who takes the initiative to implement necessary changes.
Why did you leave your last position? Refrain from making any negative comments, no matter what the situation. Experts suggest using diplomacy instead, and trying to focus on more positives than negatives, even if you have to mention some. The less you complain about your last job, the more it will say about your work ethic and attitude.
Tell us about a difficult situation and how you solved it? Especially for new members to the workforce, this can be a difficult question. With minimal experience, you may not feel ready or able to answer it. Still, employers are eager to see that you can respond quickly even to difficult situations, regardless of where you encountered and successfully handled challenges. From classroom scenarios to situations in the workforce, they want to “test” your critical thinking ability. Even if you reflect on how you managed your study time or how you earned wages to pay for books or extracurricular activities, they want to know that you are a responsible, reliable, that can be creative about solving problems (on your own).
What are your greatest achievements and why? While you may be proud of winning of graduating top of your class, or working to put your spouse or child through college, you’ll want to relate your accomplishment to the position. Think about qualities that the company is looking for, and give examples of things you’ve done that will highlight your ability to fulfill the duties the position entails and meeting the companies demands and needs.
What salary are you looking for? The best way to approach this question is by knowing the going industry rate, how much experience you have, and what you are worth, based on the industry average, and the experience you are bringing to the negotiating table. Experts recommend not giving a specific answer but instead stating that you are amenable to discussing specifics when the time is right (and you are offered the job)…and commensurate with duties and experience. If you are pressed for a more definite answer, professionals recommend giving a general range instead of a precise figure.
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