Succeeding in Your Employment Interview

Interviews can often be difficult for both the interviewee and interviewer. If you prepare properly, then you should be able to overcome the many obsticles an interviewer can place in your way.

Before your interview, find out everything you can about the company (read their annual report which can be obtained by telephoning them). Go to their Web site. Re-read your application, thinking through your own career and the questions they might ask you. You should try to anticipate the general questions which they will ask (some examples appear below) and also prepare some questions to ask them.

To do well in the interview you need to convince the interviewer you are qualified. You need to show you are motivated to do the job well and that you will fit in with the company's structure and people.

What you wear to the interview is essential. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Dress conservatively but appropriate for the position. Pay attention to details such as your hair, makeup, pressed clothes and polished shoes. Decisions to hire or reject are often made in the first four to five minutes of an interview.

Leave in plenty of time to get to the interview. Assume you may be delayed by traffic or for other reasons. Be courteous and friendly to all employees of the company. At the interview itself you must be positive about yourself and your abilities. In general, avoid all negative answers.

Typical Job Interview Questions

Concentrate and listen very carefully to the questions. Make sure you understand the question before offering any answer. Allow the interviewer to finish asking the question before offering an answer. If you miss the question or are not sure about it, rephrase the key words and ask the interviewer to clarify. Do not attempt to answer without fully understanding the question. If you do not anticipate a question and have not prepared an answer for it, pause and think before offering one. It is better to think carefully for an appropriate answer than to offer an answer in a hurry. Make sure you do not spend too much time thinking.

Before attending an interview, think about your responses to the following typical questions. Go through your responses before each interview. Of course, the questions you may be asked will vary, but these will allow you to better prepare for your interview.

Why do you want this job?
Stress the positive aspects which prompted you to apply. Do not mention any negative aspects.

What qualities do you think will be required for this job?
The advertisement for the job may help, but also think of the other qualities that may be needed. These may include leadership ability, supervisory skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, problem solving, analytical skills, etc

What can you contribute?
This is your chance to shine. Tell them about your achievements in your previous position(s) relevant to the new position.

Why would you want to work for us?
Emphasize the positive reasons why you want to join their company. Avoid concepts such as more money or shorter hours.

Why should we hire you?
Base your answer on previous experience and achievements related to the company. Add that you think there is a good fit between you and the job, and do ask the interviewer for their opinion.

How ambitious are you?
Sound ambitious, but don't act like you are want the interviewer's job.

How would you describe yourself? How would others describe you?
Pick your best attributes and achievements.

What was your greatest success? How did you achieve it?
Pick an achievement which is related to their needs.

What has been your biggest failure?
Try to pick a failure which you were later able to correct or something that is not really important.

How could you improve yourself?
Do not mention anything negative about yourself, the interviewer is looking for a chink in your armor.

How do you handle criticism?
Say something like "It is important to get feedback on how I am doing so that I can improve on areas people highlight. Do you have regular staff appraisals and a staff development plan?"

What sort of manager are you? What makes a good manager?
Say that it is someone who listens to other people and can delegate while maintaining overall control of the task at hand, bringing in the project on time and to budget. Good planning skills are essential.

What problems did you encounter in your last job?
Stick to the problems that you were able to solve, "I had problem X, which I later managed to resolve by doing Y". Show that you are a person who can solve problems.

Can you work under pressure?
You need to say that you can. You could ask how much pressure the job involves.

How well did you get along with your previous manager, supervisor, co-workers and subordinates?
Hopefully you can say that you got on well with everyone.


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