Interviewing Tips

For many people, the hardest part of a new job is the interview process. In the current economic environment, competition for jobs is fierce. For every available position there can be a hundred qualified applicants so there is very little room for error, making it that much more important to make the best impression possible during your interview because it′s unlikely you′ll get a second chance.

Preparation is the key to a successful interview. The more time you put into it, the greater the potential benefits. The first step is to research the business you are interviewing with including its history, products, financial standing, the top executives and their backgrounds. Having a thorough understanding of the company, how it runs, and who runs it will help you more effectively explain why you would be a good fit. Most of the information you need should be available through online search engines, local libraries, or the company web site.

Once you have a good feel for the company, take the time to do a little research on your chosen field or specialty. Companies like to hire employees who are experts so make sure to refresh yourself on the latest trends, breakthroughs, and news.

Take a cue from professional athletes who credit visualization with their success. Imagine yourself in the interview, going over in your mind how you will present yourself and how you will respond to the questions. Visualization is especially helpful for those who experience high anxiety prior to interviews or nervousness during the meeting. Some people find it helpful to ask a friend or colleague to walk them through a mock interview. The more comfortable you are the better impression you are likely to make.

It′s impossible to perfectly predict every question you will be asked during an interview but in general you can expect specific questions about your field. So if the position you are applying for requires extensive knowledge about Java, you can expect some questions about protocols, IDL language, interface, and virtual functions.

But character and personality count as well. Employers also want to hire people with character, who can work with others, and who can function in a crisis so applicants should prepare for questions that have less to do about technical aptitude than personal decision-making and thought processing. Called behavioral interviewing, it requires the job candidates to relate specific situations they have encountered in an attempt to glean insight into the applicant′s adaptability, problem solving skills, communication ability, creativity, leadership, and integrity among other characteristics.

Some typical behavioral questions include:

  • When was the last time you had to abide by a policy you disagreed with?
  • Relate an instance when you′ve had to adapt to a colleague′s style in order to successfully complete a project.
  • Recount a difficult problem you had to solve.
  • How do you normally handle a conflict between two fellow co-workers?
  • What was the most professional business decision you had to make over the past year?
  • What was the last goal you failed to achieve?

Accountability is one of the characteristics employers look for so refrain from speaking ill of past employers or pointing the finger at fellow workers and keep your answers focused on your reactions and responses.

Lastly, preparation gives confidence which allows you to be “in the moment” instead of being distracted by nerves. Make eye contact, really listen to the questions being asked, and don′t oversell yourself or try too hard enthusiasm is appealing; desperation is not. And above all, be honest; misrepresenting yourself will only backfire because employers will check your references.