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Improving Your Interviewing Skills

Let’s begin by reviewing what we know… and should know about interviews.

What is the purpose of an interview? To answer this question, you need to think about interviews from the perspectives of a potential employer and a potential employee.

The purpose of an interview—from a potential employers’ point of view is:

  • If you can work with them
  • To figure out if you can do the job, and
  • If you can work with them, and if they can work with you.

 

The purpose of an interview—from your point of view (i.e., as an applicant for the position) is to assess:

  • If you can do the job, and
  • If you can work with them.

 
As you prepare for, and participate in interviews, it is helpful to keep these in mind.

You have worked hard to get to this point in the hiring process, and you will have to work even harder to demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the position, and how you will contribute to the company’s success. And, you will need to do so in a way that engages the interviewer.

It is helpful to break the interview process into 3 steps: Before, During and After.

We will begin to address the preparation work that is required in the Before stage. Your job is to:

  • Anticipate the questions you will be asked, and practice your responses
  • Research the company and interviewers, and figure out how you are going to use this information in your interview
  • Be prepared to share examples of your accomplishments
  • Participate in mock interviews and/or practice interviews

 
It is important to identify the best method for you to prepare for interviews.

 

Anticipate the questions you will be asked, and practice your responses

Most interviewers (i.e., especially HR) ask the same questions, such as:

  • “Tell me about yourself.”
  • “What are your strengths…and weaknesses?
  • “How would your manager describe you?”
  • “Why should I hire you?

 
Use Google to search for “typical interview questions,” to find more questions—as well as suggested ways to respond to the questions. When responding to questions, you should think about what it is the interviewer is trying to find out by asking the question. For example, when you are asked, “What is your greatest weakness.” they want to see if you will be honest. Are you sharing a true weakness, or fabricating one, such as “I am a perfectionist.”? Most interviewers will know this is a canned response. The question behind the question is: What are you doing to work on your weakness?” That is the question you should be answering.

Practice your answers/responses out loud and think of the interview as a conversation, rather than an interrogation.

 

Research the company and interviewers, and figure out how you are going to use this information in your interview

The interviewer wants to know what you know about the company, and why you want to work there. Do not show up for an interview unprepared. Do your research to find out as much as you can about the company. This will prepare you to demonstrate your interest in the company, as well as how you will contribute to its’ success.

 

Be prepared to share examples of your accomplishments

The interviewer wants to know what you have accomplished in prior positions. They will use this information to determine if these accomplishments demonstrate the skills they need. Start with identifying accomplishments that directly relate to the requirements for the position. Then, compose a “short story” to illustrate the process of achieving results.

A handy way to think about your accomplishments is to use the following:

“SOAR”

S=Situation, O=Obstacles, A=Action, R=Results

By framing your accomplishments using this model, you will provide the interviewer with evidence of how you used your skills to achieve concrete results.

For more tips on interviewing, take a look at Jessica Hagy’s humorous article: How To Nail An Interview, In 6 Simple Charts YOU LANDED AN INTERVIEW. CONGRATULATIONS! NOW WHAT?