Interview Preparation

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You just graduated, but did your school prepare you for the interviews ahead?

During an employment interview, the interviewer meets with potential employees to evaluate their skills, capabilities and levels of experience. When, as a prospective employee, you find yourself sitting in the hot seat, please keep in mind that there are no standard responses; however your replies should be clear and relevant.

To answer questions appropriately, remember these guidelines:

● Listen carefully. If you feel the question is unclear, politely ask for
clarification
● Pause before answering to consider all facts that may substantiate your
response
● Always offer positive information
● Get directly to the point. Ask if the listener would like you to go into great
detail before you do
● Discuss only the facts needed to respond to the question
● Do not open yourself to areas of questioning that could pose difficulties for you
● Be truthful, but do not offer unsolicited information
● Focus and refocus attention on your successes

The following are sample questions frequently asked during interviews. To get to know you, the interviewer may first pose some general questions, such as:
● If you could have your choice of any job, what would it be and why?
● Why do you want to go into this field?
● What are your short and long-range goals and how do you expect to achieve them?
● What does success mean to you? How do you measure it?
● What motivates you?
● Do you plan to further your education? If so, to what extent?
● What have you done to improve yourself during the past year?
● If you could relive the last 10 years, what changes would you make?
● Tell me about your greatest achievement and greatest disappointment?
● What are some of your weaknesses?
● What are some of your strengths?
● Tell me about the best and worst bosses you’ve ever had.
● What constructive criticism have you received from employers?
● Everybody has pet peeves. What are yours?
● What else do you think I should know about you?

The interviewer will also want to learn about your experience and your reasons for seeking a new position and may ask the following questions:
● Why did you leave your last position?
● How long have you been out of work?
● What have you been doing since you left your last job?
● What did you like most and least about your last job?
● At your last job, how much of the work did you perform independently?
● At your last job, how much was performed by a team?
● Do you prefer working independently or as part of a team?
● What are some of the problems you have encountered in your past jobs?
● How did you solve the problems?
● Have you ever offered suggestions to management? If so, how did management respond?
● What prevented you from advancing in your former positions?

To learn about your plans for the future and your motivation for applying for the job, the interviewer may ask the following questions:
● Why do you want to work here?
● What could you contribute to our facility?
● If you feel you have any weaknesses with regard to this job, what would they be?
● What do you expect to experience in this job that you did not experience in your past jobs?
● Assuming we make you an offer, how do you see your future here?
● Why should we hire you?
● How do you feel about evening work? Weekend work?
● Are you considering other positions at this time?
● How does this job compare with other opportunities you’re considering?
● What is your leadership style?
● How do you feel about relocating?

Sometimes the interviewer will ask vague questions that, if unexpected, may be difficult to answer. Be prepared to answer the following questions:
● Tell me about yourself.
● Are you switching careers?
● You don’t have the necessary experience or background for this position.
● Why do you believe that you could handle this position?
● Since you are overqualified for this position, what do you hope to gain from it?

Eventually, money will become an issue. Among the questions that may arise pertaining to compensation are the following:
● What are your financial needs?
● What is the minimum salary you will accept?
● What is your salary history?

Remember that an interview is a two-way conversation. For you, the interview has two purposes: One, to sell yourself, and two, to evaluate the position. After asking questions, the interviewer usually invites you to ask questions. By asking informed questions, such as the following, you not only gain knowledge about the potential employer, but you also make a good impression:
● Does the company plan to expand?
● Who is the owner, chief executive or president?
● What would you expect me to accomplish in this job?
● What responsibilities have the highest priority?
● How much time should be devoted to each area of responsibility?
● How might these responsibilities and priorities change?
● What qualifications are you looking for in the person who fills this job?
● What are some examples of the achievements of others who have been in this position?
● Is there any travel involved? If so, what are the specifics?
● How soon do you expect to make a decision?
● If I am offered the position, how soon will you need my response?

When the position involves management of other employees, these questions may be appropriate:
● How much authority will I have in running the department?
● Are there any difficult personalities on the staff?
● What will be the greatest challenge in the job?
● Who will I be supervising?
● What are those employees’ backgrounds?
● How do you feel about their performance thusfar?
● How does their pay compare with what they could receive elsewhere?
● What is the philosophy of the management team?
● To whom would I report to?

Don’t forget to arrive at least 15 minutes early, wear professional, interview-appropriate clothing, phone turned off and believe in yourself!

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