The purpose of job interviews is to offer employers some valuable insights into job applicants’ personalities and competencies. They hope to weed out the weak and filter the best during this process.
However, most candidates who may be a perfect match for the job may be rejected if they don’t do well in their interviews.
You may be very well trained and skilled to perform your job, but to get there you need to be the best in your interview first and come across as the most desired candidate.
To give you an advantage in that tough competition, take a look at how you can learn the art of handling interviews and how to understand the reasons behind those seemingly boring questions.
1. Tell me about yourself
This is the most common start to an interview, 99% of the time. It’s a casual and unstructured question and there are many ways to address it. No one knows more about you than YOU, so take this opportunity to give the hiring manager a good idea of your ability to think and adapt on the spot.
The hiring manager also wants to see which information you think is important to offer given the position you are interviewing for. The key is to demonstrate that you understand the experiences, skills and abilities that are relevant for the position on hand.
If you focus on things that the company puts a lot of value on, then you will pass the test. BINGO!
Things to focus on:
- Don’t ask, “Well, what do you want to know?”
- Keep it short and to the point. Your answer should be within 60 to 90 seconds.
- Highlight the accomplishments that are most relevant to this specific position.
- Avoid telling your life story.
- Avoid regurgitating your cover letter and CV.
Remember, “It’s not about you, it’s about them.” Your answer should be a tailored response to the needs of the organization. It is immensely important that you show that you possess the qualities that they want. More often than not, the company cares more about your ability to fulfill their needs than it does about what you did for another company.
If you are a new graduate you can reference your academic achievements, athletic endeavors, charity and volunteer work. Practice a bit to find your rhythm and your natural flow before the interview.
2. What do you know about us?
This is the question to see if you have invested the time and energy to learn about the company you're going to interview with. Your interview preparation, or lack thereof, speaks volumes. You owe it to yourself to do research on the company apart from reading the job description, in other words ‘prepare yourself’
Things to focus on:
- What sort of organization is it?
- What product or service does the organization provide and to whom?
- What is this role all about? Try to understand the logic behind the opening.
- Who is the interviewing / hiring manager?
Either you find answers for these questions or develop an educated guess about the ones you aren't able to answer.
3. Why do you want to work with us?
This isn’t really just one simple question, but two much more complex and dynamic questions rolled into one. Here is the breakdown:
- Why are you interested in this company?
- Why do you want to work here?
Use this question as an opportunity to leap headfirst into the interview process by providing thoughtful, intelligent, and tailored responses. Is this company and job aligned with your future plans and your personal brand? Is this job a draw bridge or a jailhouse? What is it about the company that attracts you? Is it the company or the job itself that appeals to you? Is it the company’s community involvement, outreach programs, marketing campaigns or training programs that seem attractive? You can mention any element that intrigues you and draws your interest. You can also refer to the company’s culture and or management philosophies and how they make you want to be part of that structure.
Mistakes to avoid:
- Being too blunt: there is a fine line between being honest and being rude.
- Being too generic: providing a general answer that could apply to any company.
- A boring answer: giving an unenthusiastic answer that makes the interviewer wonder if you really want the job.
Your job is to convince the hiring manager that you are the perfect candidate. All hiring managers want to bring in people who actually want to work with them!
4. Do you prefer working independently or in groups?
The purpose of this question is to find out if you are open to working in either style. A better way to answer this question is to include the positive aspects of both options. Try to understand your strengths and how you actually prefer to work, so you can answer honestly and tactfully. Keep in mind that you don’t have to prefer one option over another. Rather, illustrate the benefits of both approaches. This way you will come across as a dynamic and flexible candidate.
Mistakes to avoid:
- Exaggerating your abilities: be realistic with the strengths and weaknesses you bring up.
- Being extreme: don’t come across as someone who is completely reliant on groups or as someone who is unable to work well with others.
5. What salary are you expecting?
Salaries pay the bills, but they don’t advance your career, but, of course, that doesn’t mean you should work for free.
A sample answer would be:
“I’m more interested in finding a position that’s a good fit for my skills and interests. I believe that the salary you will offer will be competitive in the current market.
This way you demonstrate that you are not all about the money but more interested in the job itself and building your career.
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