You have the skills, the professional and personal experience and the passion needed to apply for the position. You’ve submitted the application, resume, references, and other documents required. You get the invitation to interview. Your palms sweat and you automatically get nervous. How can you convey that you are exactly the candidate they need to hire?
Be prepared! Simple right? Well, it can be, yes. Alleviate interview stress by being prepared and confident to answer any question the interviewee or committee may ask you!
One of the easiest ways to prepare for an interview is to study your resume. Yes, duh, you know exactly what is on your resume, most likely you created it, but it’s not just about your past positions or experiences. Study your resume along with the current job description you want to apply for by breaking down the list of responsibilities and turning them into questions.
For example –
- Position requirement – Applicant must have ability to flourish in a fast-paced environment while adapting to change as needed. Question – This statement would be become the following – How have I flourished in a fast-paced environment while adapting to change?
- Answer – Discover your answer by using the facts on your resume or the application you filled out. If you had a position as an assistant in a busy marketing department maybe you were constantly juggling tight deadlines on a daily basis with numerous projects going at one time. Define how you organized those projects and tracked deadlines, keeping your manager or team informed of progress, updates and milestone timelines as they passed. Include a particular project that changed course or the deadline was moved up due to client’s request and again state your role and how it worked out despite the challenges.
Once you turn each position requirement into a question and prepare an answer you will exude confidence and be reminded of all the hard work you have put into your professional development and why you truly are the perfect candidate!
Two more basic tips that can help you prepare for the interview:
- Study the company. Typically, companies have informative web sites, most have mission statements, progress reports, etc. Learn about the company and talk about key points you relate to with the hiring manager or committee. Did they recently incorporate a new product or program you have experience with? Does their mission statement echo your own passion or interest?
- Don’t forget to ask the hiring manager or committee questions. Questions such as ‘What are the top three main responsibilities or goals of the employee in this position?’, ‘What is one common company goal and what resources do employees have to help accomplish this?’, ‘What is one common personality and/or one common skill shared by past employees that held this position?’ or ‘Please briefly describe one of the team’s current projects and what role this position will play’.
Of course there are numerous articles with tips and resources about a variety of career interviews. I’m just sharing a few of the most popular that I have personally used or shared with others when editing or creating their resumes. I hope you found them beneficial.
I’d love to hear your favorite interview tip. Let me know if you have any questions about the interview process.
Thank you so much for reading!
There are so many cover letter samples out there; most of them really well organized and ideal to use. But the main question I receive is how to personalize the letter. I really enjoy finding skills and the perfect wording to personalize a cover letter for job seekers – yes BRAGGING!
I created a cover letter sample by using an actual job posting I recently found in the Kansas City area. I hope this helps answer some questions you may have, but as always please reach out to me if you have any questions at all. Have some additional tips? Please share them!
I still have a couple free career packages to give away. What is that about you ask? Please see my other post titled Free advice.
2017 Sample job posting and cover letter PDF
An interaction last week reminded me of the importance of personality shining through rather than just skills listed in sequence on a resume. I assisted with an interview for a temporary worker for an employee that was going to be off for a couple of weeks. The resumes for two prospective hires looked similar, well written, good experience, etc. The two interviews could not have been more opposite though!
The first was energetic, saying good morning to everyone she saw as she checked in for the interview, and presented herself in a very confident manner. The second was quiet and almost rude to the person she checked in with, she did not look anyone in the eye as she barely answered questions and she did not allow any personality to shine through at all.
This is what reminded me of how important being confident in your skills, sharing some of your unique personality and showing every employee, throughout the company, the same common courtesy you show the actual interviewers. A lot of employers ask the receptionist, security, maintenance, etc. how the interviewee interacted with them.
It should be common practice to be well-groomed, no sunglasses inside, no gum chewing, don’t bring friends or family (or strangers for that matter) with you, be polite, etc. With that said, I have listed a few more tips below that I hope help you relax and feel confident when preparing for an interview.
- If you check in with a receptionist or front office support person, get their name. When you are introduced to the interviewer, turn to the person you checked in with, call them by name and thank them. Also, include their name in the thank you letter you send as a follow up to the interviewer(s), especially if they are extra helpful with something again don’t make up something, but just be perceptive
- Speak to everyone you encounter; saying hello, good morning or good afternoon, etc. Be yourself. Don’t force interactions, but be polite to those you meet or see even if briefly
- Know your resume and the job descriptions; highlight your skills required for the position – study your own resume…sounds simple, but try to focus on the skills you have that relate to specific requirements the prospective job requires. If one requirement is multitasking or handling a busy front desk give examples from past experience that relates to that. For example ‘while at my previous employer (or current position) I supported a department of ten and have formulated a system for prioritizing deadlines…’
- Don’t be too serious, be respectful, but also allow some of your unique personality to show through. Incorporate personal hobbies or a personality trait in an answer. For a simple example if you have an antique coin collection that you have had for years, maybe it was passed down through your family, you could say that collection has helped you learn to pay attention to detail, research, etc.
- Practice interview questions with a friend or even with yourself; review average interview questions and be prepared to answer. Even if you are asked ‘if you were a cereal what kind would you be and why?’…Yes, I had that asked to me once. Seriously. My answer? “Granola, I realize it’s not a standard cereal like corn flakes, but I’m unique, not standard either, I like to try and be healthy, but I’m not always, and I think granola is a little bit of a nature lover and so am I.”….the man said it was better the last person’s answer of ‘Apple Jacks…because I like apples’ (insert a giggle here)….I think that is a unique question, you can’t really be prepared in advance to answer it, but be ready to share a little about yourself!
Have you had a unique question? Any tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you!