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Monday, 22-May-2017 21:01:40 EDT
preparing for a job interview

Part of being all grown up is securing employment – not just any job but a good one. To get there after years of studying, it's the job interview that becomes even more stressful than any of the final exams preceeding it.

Practice frequently asked interview questions beforehand by tailoring your answers to the role you are applying for.

But let's back up a bit first... Landing a job interview takes serious effort – the competition out there is hundreds to one – and what most job seekers don't realize is that the hunt is a nine to five job all in itself. This is as it should be.

Digital files need to be prepared, applications must be filled out, and resumes are required to be dropped off, faxed, emailed or mailed as specified in the job ads – daily. After what seems like countless weeks of this intensive work, you get that call you've been hoping for.

Are you dressed for the possibility of an impromptu interview and are you prepared to answer questions about yourself, your previous job, and why you believe you are best suited for the position?

Job hunting may be a nine to five job but it comes with homework too. On a regular basis throughout the job hunting process, simulate multiple interviews with a family member, neighbour or friend. The point is to get comfortable talking about yourself. Then on the eve of a job interview, refresh your memory about the role you applied for and its company, and do a final simulation with answers tailored specifically for the next day. There is no excuse for not being prepared. Below you will find a list of frequently asked interview questions and an insight on techniques to best answer them:

Why don't you tell us about yourself.
Most people don't like to talk about themselves but during an interview, you have to. Take some time to identify some of your main qualities and memorize them ahead of time. This is the part of the interview for describing your qualifications, employment history and skill set, placing an emphasis on the skills that are relevant to the role you're being interviewed for.

Describe your most difficult workplace situation and how did you deal with it?
The basis of this question is to find out what your definition of difficult is and to establish your level of problem solving skills. The tricky part here is to assert yourself in a positive light in just a few sentences. It is best to describe a situation that did not directly involve you – and how you identified the problem, considered the various options, chose and implemented the course of action, and then the outcome.

What did you like best about your last job?
This is an especially difficult question because, undoubtedly, you are leaving or have left a job for a specific reason. Whatever the circumstance, what you liked about your previous employment should relate to the skill set required for the role you are being interviewed for. Take care not to be too enthusiastic – you wouldn't have left or be leaving a job for a new one if you loved it that much.

What did you least like about your last job?
Tread carefully here. You don't want to regret opening the door to further questioning about the problems you faced that could create the impression that you are not a problem solver. You might also be cautious about making open-ended statements like, "I needed a change." This too could be interpreted as you are not interested in a long-term professional relationship, thus an investment, with the company you are interviewing for.

Something along these lines can cast you in a more positive light, "There wasn't any further room for advancement. I outgrew the size of the company and I now possess a greater skill set than my job required."

Can you describe some of your achievements to date?
Your achievements should be work-related and recent. Describe the skills that were needed and how it benefited the company. This is a great opportunity to establish that you have the ability to set goals and then reach them through your professional process.

What are your main strengths?
The interviewer is looking to establish what you are going to bring to the company. Concentrate on three or four strengths and be prepared to provide examples of each. Do you learn quickly? Do you have a positive attitude? Do you have outstanding interpersonal skills? Do you have a strong work ethic? and / or Do you like to succeed? Great! Now what are the examples.

What is your greatest weakness?
Everybody has one so don't reply with, "Nothing." Instead, describe a professional weakness that can also be seen as a strength, and then the steps you have taken to address its weakness. For example, it could be that you are a perfectionist and demand top performance from your team members. Learning to trust their competence signifies that not only do you have the ability to identify your own professional weaknesses, but you address them with confidence as well.

Why do you want to work for us?
The interviewer is looking to see if you are going to be a good fit, not only for the role but for the employee dynamic within the company. He or she needs to know that you will enjoy the tasks within the job description you've applied for. Be very familiar with the role and the company, and briefly explain what specifically interests you most.

What are your salary requirements?
Complete a salary search ahead of time to prepare yourself for receiving what you're worth and to obtain a job that is both realistic and reasonable for your experience. More and more companies are asking this question but it occurs most often when a prospective employee appears to be overqualified. They want to see how you value yourself professionally and if they can afford you.

You can say that you are in agreement with the salary that has been set for the position or you can give the interviewer a salary range based on the research you have done, your skill level, and your experience.


Please note, this is a general guideline that should be personalized to suit the role you have applied for and to you.

The key things to remember during the interview are to keep your answers relevant, brief, and to the point. Stay calm, pause to think about your response before answering, and don't get defensive if you are faced with a difficult question.

Know as well that only 7% of communication relates to the words that are spoken – the rest is body language. So smile and make eye contact, don't get too comfortable but comfortable enough, keep a positive vocal tone, and maintain a posture that signifies competence and asserts professional confidence. Remember, in the end, the overall impression you strive for is your willingness to work for an employer, not how he or she is able to serve your professional aspirations.

Best of luck and practice.

Sheila Quinn
©2013 SayItCanada.ca. All rights reserved.


On WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2013 at 5:49pm EST from WHISTLER, BC

SMQ – Very good. I was watching a 'Ted Talk' about body language and they said that your body language actually determines how successful you will be in life. People that walk around with good posture get better jobs.

On WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2013 at 6:00pm EST from 100 MILE HOUSE, BC

Michelle – Very informative.

On WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2013 at 6:54pm EST from CHILLIWACK, BC

Susy – It's very good, great advice in there.

On MONDAY, JANUARY 28, 2013 at 9:58pm EST from VANCOUVER, BC

YAQ – Re: What is your greatest weakness? Everybody has one so don't reply with, "Nothing."

I remember watching some Reality Cooking Show and a chef was asked this very question. He was quite confident in himself and 'admitted' he didn't have 'any weakness'. The almighty arrogance. He was next to be cut from the show.

We ALL have weaknesses... and some more than others! ;)

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