Interviewing Practice = Preparation

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1 Interviewing Practice = Preparation What is the Purpose of an Interview? STUDENT An interview is a two-way exchange, a conversation, in which both participants have some goals. The Interviewer wants to determine: Can the candidate do the job? Will the candidate fit in? Is this the best candidate for the position? The Interviewee wants to determine: Do I want this job? Can I do this job? Does this job offer me the opportunities I want for advancement or experience? The following information and ideas are designed to help you be a more successful interviewee. INTERVIEW S AND S Select a range of questions to practice your responses for your interview The aim is to think of ways to answer different types of questions Do not memorize your answers Most employers create questions that test your capacity to meet the selection criteria Different types of questions Ice-breakers to help develop the rapport between interviewer and interviewee Tell me about yourself? Why have you applied for this role? Resume information to expand on information in your resume It says on your resume that you have experience in X. Tell us some more about that. Your resume says you studied X. How will that help you in this role? Academic background how it relates to the job you have applied for Tell me about your university studies. Why did you decide to study X? How has your university experience prepared you for this job? Is your academic performance an indication of how you will perform in this job? What types of assignments have you written? How difficult were they to write? Tell me about the best assignment you ever wrote. Awareness of the organization Why do you want to work for us? What do you know about our organization? Why does this industry/job/company interest you? douglascollegesec.ca 0

2 Motivation and career orientation check that your career goals match the job you are seeking Why did you choose this career? What would you like to be doing in five years? How do you stay knowledgeable about the industry? Why did you leave your last position? Self-awareness of you qualities, skills or areas where you need to develop Do you think you are an (innovative, determined, enthusiastic, considerate) person? Why do you think so? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? pick a weakness that: you have corrected or learned to manage. You need to be able to describe your strategy for overcoming your weakness will not impact too negatively on your ability to complete the job. Technical or specialist what are you knowledge and skills of your role What legal issues will you need to be aware of in this role? What are some of the professional boundaries that you might need to negotiate? What standards do you need to be aware of in this role? How do you keep your knowledge of the standards up to date? Hypotheticals or scenarios questions evaluate your problem solving skills How would you deal with an irate co-worker? What do you think would be the result? How would you deal with an angry customer on the phone? Why would you take this approach? What would you do if you came across a task that you had never done before? Behavioural most commonly asked questions Interviewers expect you to respond with specific examples from your experiences Employers believe past behaviour is a good indication of future behaviour. Think of your behaviours around employability skills such as teamwork, communication, problem solving, initiative, etc. These questions often start with a phrase such as, 'Tell me about a time when you ', 'Describe a situation when you '.(refer to Tip Sheet: Behavioural Interviewing) douglascollegesec.ca 1

3 INTERVIEW S & S Tell me about yourself. PURPOSE To put you at ease To find out information about you that is not listed on your resume / cover letter Briefly talk about the following three areas: 1. Work experience / education (90%) - your qualifications and experience related to the position 2. Attributes (5%) - as related to the position 3. Personal (5%) - indicate stability and well-rounded character, for example: interests, community involvement and fitness Take the opportunity to highlight some of your major accomplishments and your positive attributes like your ability to get along with others, your stability, your determination and initiative Try not to talk too long - keep it to 3 minutes or less E.g. I have a Bachelor s degree in Urban and Regional Planning with one years experience in retail and commercial market analysis. I have well developed research and analytical skills; I am proficient in computer applications including GIS-Map information. In terms of my attributes, I am hardworking and conscientious and really enjoy this field of work. On a personal note, I swim and cycle and volunteer with a neighborhood association. douglascollegesec.ca 0

4 Why did you leave your last job? PURPOSE To find out if you had any problems at your last job To determine how committed you are to the workplace Be positive and brief If you didn t have any problems and left on good terms, simply give the reason, i.e. moved to Canada, company went out of business, contract ended, wanted to find a better job, etc. Inform the interviewer that it would be okay to contact your last employer for a reference. If you did have problems, try to be honest. Show that you can accept responsibility and learn from your mistakes. You should explain any problems you had (or still have) with an employer, but do not describe that employer in negative terms. douglascollegesec.ca 1

5 Describe your greatest achievement. PURPOSE To find out if you are able to recognize and share this information To discover even more reasons to hire you and get your talents and skills working for them Briefly talk about the following three areas: 1. Situation (5%) 2. Action (behavior) (90%) 3. Result (5%) Briefly describe a work-related achievement that shows your knowledge and expertise in the field, or in dealing with people or problem-solving. Give specifics about the situation. If you are new to the workforce or reentering it, take an example from school, volunteer work or a survival job, then show how the skill is transferable to this job. You might want to, for example, demonstrate quick thinking, flexibility, leadership, creativity or dedication E.g. (Situation) When I was with (name of company), (Action) I increased the rate of (e.g. customer return / productivity / bottom line profit / accident prevention / product protection) (Result) because of my skills (provide examples). douglascollegesec.ca 2

6 What are your strengths? PURPOSE To find out how well you know yourself To find out if you believe in yourself and are confident that you are the right person for the position Mention that besides your work skills, training and experience, you also offer job related qualities such as reliability, enthusiasm, dependability, flexibility and efficiency be ready to give examples of your attributes douglascollegesec.ca 3

7 What are your weaknesses? PURPOSE To discover how well you know yourself To uncover any skills/experience deficiencies that may interfere with your ability to do the job Honestly describe a weakness that you are currently working on and how it is improving this will demonstrate your ability for self-improvement Mention an area you want to improve on: E.g. I m eager to acquire more computer training, so I m enrolling in evening courses for next term. Describe a positive attribute that you know you have, but in some contexts may actually be negative. Then continue with a statement of reassurance, such as: E.g. I am so enthusiastic that I want to do 100 things at the same time, so I make sure I sit down and make a list of priorities and plan a schedule. I find this helps me achieve more. Honestly state your obvious weaknesses and then describe factors that compensate for it. Remember, once you raise a doubt, you have to explain it immediately. E.g. I welcome direction, but then need time to try things out on my own. I am a very reliable and productive worker; however I appreciate training at the beginning to better understand the internal processes. Even though I have limited paid work experience, I am willing to take direction to help me fit into your company s needs. douglascollegesec.ca 4

8 Tell me about your work experience with this type of work. PURPOSE To find out if you can do the job or not. If you have done this work before, state where and give examples of your achievements If you have only done related work, state your transferrable skills, show your interest and willingness to learn; mention other work related attributes and skills If you have specific experience: E.g. Yes, I worked at (name of company) from (year) to (year). The duties I performed were (list duties) and my major achievements were (list results/achievements). My training in this field includes (summarize training). If you have no specific experience: E.g. My background includes (name related transferrable skills/training). I am quick to learn, I take pride in meeting the goals and standards of an organization and once trained in your specific (products/services/ procedures), I feel I would be an asset to your company. douglascollegesec.ca 0

9 Why do you want to work here? PURPOSE To find out what you know and like about the organization and if you would stay To see if you are genuinely interested in contributing to the company or if you re only interested in what the company can do for you To see if your work qualifications fit their requirements and approach Describe what you know about the company you can complement the company on such points as its reputation, service, product, location, growth, etc. Indicate your liking for the work you do and how your skills match their requirements E.g. Your organization has a reputation for (list awards or recognition) and I am really interested in utilizing my (list related skills) here and growing with the company. douglascollegesec.ca 1

10 What are your long-term goals? PURPOSE To discover whether or not you will stay with the company To identify your career plans To see if your goals fit with those of the company Keep you answer work related, with this company in mind State your interest in and commitment to staying and growing in this field of work douglascollegesec.ca 2

11 Can you work under pressure or tight deadlines? PURPOSE To find out your attitude towards dealing with pressure situations and your ability to cope with them Give job related examples from your past experience, showing your ability to cope with pressure If you do not cope well with pressure situations, try to state some of your positive attributes, i.e. your cheerful attitude, thoroughness, etc. Add that you prefer knowing about deadlines in advance and work better in that situation E.g. I know pressure and deadlines are a part of work, and I enjoy meeting realistic goals and challenges. douglascollegesec.ca 3

12 What would you do in this situation? PURPOSE Assess your ability to handle unexpected questions Assess your ability to judge and handle real life situations Learn more details of experiences you have had Mention our commitment to follow company guidelines and to consult your supervisor where appropriate Describe a time when you successfully dealt with a similar situation, and the results you achieved Briefly talk about the following three areas: 1. Situation (5%) 2. Action (behavior) (90%) 3. Result (5%) Briefly describe a work-related situation that shows your knowledge and expertise in the field, or in dealing with people or problem-solving. Give specifics about the situation. If you are new to the workforce or reentering it, take an example from school, volunteer work or a survival job, then show how the skill is transferable to this job. douglascollegesec.ca 4

13 Why should I hire you? PURPOSE To allow an opportunity for you to sell the employer on any points that might have been missed during the interview questioning Keep your answers short and to the point Recap the employer s description of the job, meeting it point by point with descriptions of your skills and experience E.g. I'm a hard worker. I pay attention into details and I always make sure my work is done and accurate. I'm an eager to learn and I'm dedicated to my work, I believe that my educational background matches with the current position am applying for, and given an opportunity, I will prove myself to you. You should hire me because I am a fast learner, which will facilitate the training period; I am motivated and I have the background that corresponds to this position. Also I am an ambitious person, and I have the desire to be among the best in my field, and I want to be the best with your company. douglascollegesec.ca 5

14 What are your salary expectations? PURPOSE The employer wants to see if you have done some research on what the position pays in general and if you know your worth They want to ensure that they can afford you If you ask too little compensation, it may mean that you are not confident in your abilities Give a range (10-15%) Prior to attending the interview, you should do some research and determine a high end and low end scale of pay for the position. Be realistic on your abilities and experience and ask a fair wage. If you have great skills and experience go for the high end of the scale, if not, go low or middle of the road If the salary is already advertised in an ad or job description: I understand that the range is to If a salary has not been mentioned, give a range of approximately 15% that is realistic for the industry: E.g. My research indicated that the salary range for someone in this industry with my qualifications is $35,000 to $39,000 and I am open for discussion. If questions are raised about your previous salary: If your previous salary was much HIGHER than the company can offer, and you want the position, assure the employer of your awareness of the salary difference and that in applying for this job you are realistic and willing to negotiate the salary. Mention the advantages for you that offset the lower salary, e.g. Canadian work experience, location, etc. douglascollegesec.ca 6

15 SALARY RANGE DISCUSSION Be professional by treating this subject with calmness and confidence Understand that employers want to be competitive in the salaries they offer and are not always trying to hire employees for the lowest salary possible Be prepared - know your worth, know your salary range (with solid research) within a 10 to 15% range; (do not worry about being over their range a bit; this will not mean they will screen you out) Be sure to answer this question and do not ask what the position pays or what the budget is Do not say Any salary is okay or Pay me what you think I am worth - t his could be seen as avoiding the question and does not show professionalism Don t be anxious! Keep in mind a discussion about salary is expected when a job offer is given douglascollegesec.ca 7

16 S Do you have any questions? (To ask the employer) PURPOSE This is a signal that the interview is almost over Gives you an opportunity to show that you are really interested in the company / position Try to avoid me type of questions and keep them related to the company, the position and the work environment Try to have three to five pertinent questions written down for easy access: Could you describe an average day on the job? Why has this position become vacant? Who would be my direct supervisor? How long have you been with the company and what do you enjoy most about your position? douglascollegesec.ca 8

17 OTHER INTERVIEW S 1. What do you believe qualifies you for this position? 2. What would you do if two different supervisors gave you conflicting instructions? 3. How would your past supervisor describe you? 4. What do you know about our organization? 5. Describe a difficult problem/situation you had to deal with and how you handled it. 6. In what areas would you like to improve? 7. What would you do if you discovered a company representative or customer stealing? 8. What is important to you in a job? 9. For what types of things have you been praised or criticized? 10. What skills do you like using the most? 11. What skills or attributes are you most proud of? 12. What was your greatest contribution in your past job? 13. Why did you select this line of studies? 14. What could you contribute to our company? 15. How do you plan and organize for major projects? 16. What elements of this job would be new to you and how would you overcome these things? 17. What motivates you? 18. What is your dream job? 19. What do you consider essential in the management of people? 20. How often were you absent from your last job? 21. Why did you leave your last job? 22. Describe the equipment/software packages/projects you have experience with. 23. Are you willing to take more training/travel/work overtime? 24. What have you done that shows initiative? 25. How do you handle stress? 26. When you were deciding on this career, which of your attributes made you feel you would be appropriate for this career? 27. Tell me about a work situation when you had to deal with a difficult person and how you handled it. 28. Define team work/cooperation/leadership/challenge. 29. How would your education and training apply to this position? 30. Describe any relevant volunteer experience that you have. 31. If hired, how do you intend to develop in this position? ILLEGAL S Due to The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and The Human Rights Code in British Columbia, certain questions are deemed inappropriate to ask interview candidates. However, at times, employers do ask these questions. (It is recommended that you become familiar with these pieces of legislation for your own knowledge of the Canadian and British Columbian employment culture. Other acts of importance are The Employment Standards Act and The Labour Relations Code). There are various reasons why employers may ask questions that are limited by the above legislation. Their concerns may be about the success of their business ventures, or they may be ignorant of the legislation. douglascollegesec.ca 9

18 Except where there is a genuine occupation requirement, it is discrimination contrary to The Human Rights Act for a person or an employer to refuse to employ or to dismiss a person, or to discriminate against a person with respect to any term or condition of employment because of the person s: Race Skin colour Ancestry Place of origin Political beliefs Religion Marital status or family status (including plans for or state of pregnancy) Physical or mental disability Age Gender Sexual orientation If you are asked any of these questions, it is important to know your rights. If it is an employer you want to work for, indicate a willingness to demonstrate your suitability for the job without compromising your rights. Respond with an assertive statement, such as: I am interested in knowing how my (age, gender, place of birth, religion, etc.) might have any bearing on the job I am applying for. Questions You May Want to Ask Since the interview is a two-way exchange, you may want to be prepared with some questions of your own. Consider the suggestions that follow but be sure to identify other questions that are important to you. 1. What would you consider ideal experience for this job? 2. If you had an ideal candidate, what skills and personal qualities would that person have? 3. What are the primary results you want to see from this position in the next year? 4. What are the criteria for measuring success for this position? 5. In what way does this position fit into the broader mission of this office? 6. Tell me about the reporting relationships involved with this position. To whom will I report, and in turn, to whom would they report? 7. What is the next step in the hiring procedure? 8. When can I expect to hear from you? 9. When will a decision be made? 10. When would you want me to begin working in this position? douglascollegesec.ca 10

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