Interviewing

"It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech."                          

Mark Twain

Interviewing Tips

 

While the interview process itself  won’t be the same from company to company and job title to job title, there are aspects and trends that are similar. There is a lot you can and should do to prepare for an interview. Read on!

 

 

Arrival

 

Arrive at the interview building location a half-hour before the interview and go inside the company’s lobby fifteen minutes before your appointment. Remember that an interview begins the moment you arrive in the reception area.  Get settled and be cordial with the receptionist. Front office personnel are often coached to form opinions about you. Their “report” may be part of your interview evaluation.

 

 
The Interview: Non - Verbal

 

Being aware of your body language is very important. Use it effectively, beginning at introductions. Offer a firm handshake, eye contact and smile. These small behaviours indicate, “I’m confident; I’m excited to be here.” Do your best to avoid obvious signs of nervousness like tapping a pen, drumming your fingers, shaking your foot or shuffling papers. When talking, use gestures to convey your passion and excitement. Change the tone of your voice, volume and inflection to avoid being monotonous. Also, watch the interviewer’s body language for cues and if necessary, change your approach. Ask a question.  Draw the interviewer back into the interview.

 

 

Appearance

 

The way you dress and groom yourself are the first things an interviewer sees. You’ve heard it before and it bears repeating: you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. Be professional in your dress and if you aren’t certain about the corporate dress code and culture, err on the side of conservatism. Ensure clothes are clean and pressed; wear shoes that are polished; avoid jewellery that may be distracting; and be conscious that others may have cologne/perfume allergies (less is better; none is best).

 

 

Your Cell Phone

 

TURN IT OFF. Your phone should not buzz, beep or ring during the interview period (including while you wait to be seen). Do not text while you are waiting for or during the interview.

 

On This Page
 

Common Interview Questions

General

 

  • Tell me about yourself.

  • Walk me through your past experiences and educational background.

  • Why are you interested in this opportunity?

  • What are your strengths and how can they support you in this role?

  • What is your major weakness and what are you doing about it?

  • What do you know about our company? Why do you want to work here?  

 

 

Communication

 

  • Describe a time that you were successful primarily because of your ability to communicate orally.

  • Tell me about a sensitive or volatile situation that required very careful communication.

 

 

Ongoing Improvement

 

  • Describe a time when you made a mistake in a working environment. What did you learn?

  • Tell me about a suggestion you made to improve the processes or operations in your position or within your team.

 

 

Detail Orientation

 

  • Give me an example of a time where your attention to detail helped you avoid making a mistake.

 

 

Decision Making

 

  • Tell me about one of the most difficult decisions you made in the last year. What made it so difficult? What process did you use to make the decision?

 

 

Goal Setting

 

  • Give me an example of an important goal you set and how you accomplished it.

 

 

Cooperation

 

  • Describe a time where, had you not been able to get another person’s or group’s co- operation, you probably would not have been successful.

  • Tell me about a time you co-operated with someone particularly difficult to work with. 

 

 
Creativity/Innovation

 

  • Describe a time when you came up with a creative solution / idea / project /report to a work problem. 

  • Tell me about a time you were especially creative in solving a problem you had been dealing with for some time.

 

 

Customer Service

 

  • Give me an example of something you have done to either develop or strengthen customer relationships.

 

 

Problem Solving

 

  • Tell me about a time when you experienced a challenge with a coworker, classmate or peer. What happened and what was the outcome?

 

 

Initiative

 

  • Tell me about a time when you pushed yourself to do more than was necessary.

 

 

Flexibility/Adaptability

 

  • Tell me about a time when you had to stop working on one assignment and start working on another one. What did you do? How did that work out?

 

 

Questions You Can Ask

 

Typically, you will be asked if you have questions to share. Planning such inquiries serves to highlight your interest as a candidate. It is strongly recommended that you prepare at least 3-5 questions prepared to ask immediately following their questions. For example:

 

  • How would you describe a typical day/week in this position?

  • What are the critical responsibilities of this position? (This is only relevant, of course, if this wasn't covered in the interview)

  • What type of employees are most successful at this company?

  • What is the structure of the deparment I am being considered for? 

 

 

 

Do Not Ask:

 

  • Questions that deal with salary, benefits, vacation, or job security. For example: can I take time off for vacation? Can I change my scheduled hours of work? Did I get the job? These questions may suggest you may not be focused on company needs. Issues such as hours and vacation can be addressed once you receive an offer.

  •  Questions that refer to negative or inappropriate topics or company information. Tip: keep the interview items discussed positive!

  • Questions that you are not sure the interviewer can answer (i.e., vague inquiries, overly technical questions).

 

 Interview Strategies & Preparation

Days before the interview

 

  • Ensure you know the correct location of the interview and have planned the route beforehand. Make sure you know when you should leave in order to get there on time

  • Research the organization/employer you are going to meet

  • If you know the name of the interviewer(s), research their history and current activities

  • Review the job posting beforehand and ask some clarifying questions, if possible, before the interview

  • If possible, clarify the interview format and make all necessary preparations.

  • Make multiple copies of all required documents (resume, transcripts, etc.)

  • Review the list of sample interview questions

  • Prepare answers which will show your best qualities

  • If necessary, prepare references from your former supervisors, colleagues, or clients

  • Review your resume – be sure you can elaborate on any point

  • Get a haircut/manicure/etc. if needed

  • Prepare a list of possible questions to ask the interviewer

  • Decide what you will need to wear at the interview and make sure your clothes are clean and pressed

  • Practice a mock interview with a close friend

  • Write and practice your elevator pitch or your "about me" speech

 

 

1 Day before interview

 

  • Print a copy of your one-page resume 

  • Make sure you bring extra pens, paper and anything you else you may need

  • Lay out what you will be wearing and give your outfit a final once over

  • Clean / polish your shoes

  • Set your alarm clock and give yourself ample time to get ready and out the door

  • Get a good night's sleep to be fresh and at your best

 

 

Day of interview

  • Have a good breakfast

  • Dress appropriately and make sure you are clean, neat and tidy (no perfume/cologne please!)

  • Allow yourself enough travel time – consider adding an extra half an hour to allow for any possible delays particularly with public transport

 

 

15-30 minutes before interview

 

  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early, and check your appearance in the mirror

  • Have you heard about the relationship between body posture and state of mind? Here's a great TEDTalk. It's got some great 2 minutes exercises you could do before your interview.

  • Check in with reception and make a great first impression. Many interviewers will ask for the receptionist’s opinion once you have left

  • Turn off your cell phone

 

 

At the interview

 

  • When introduced to the interviewer, repeat his/her name to confirm pronunciation and help in remembering

  • Smile, shake hands firmly, sit when you are offered a seat

  • Sit up, focus on the interviewer, make eye contact and respond calmly, clearly and honestly

  • Demonstrate your enthusiasm, respect and positive mood

  • Avoid expressing doubtful opinions, and don’t argue with your interviewer

  • Take time to formulate your answers – pausing is a sign of thoughtfulness in your responses

 

 

Immediately after interview

 

  • Stand and shake hands

  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time

  • Ask for a business card

  • Emphasize your interest in the job, but do not appear desperate or inappropriate

  • Find a quiet place and write down notes of the interview (names of interviewers, main topics, key questions) while they are still fresh

 

 

Day after interview

 

  • Send a thank-you letter

 

 

 

 Types of Interviews

 

Interviews can come in many different shapes and forms, from an official, multi-interview recruitment process to an informal meet and greet at your local Starbucks. Ultimately, all interviews have one common goal: to determine if you are a suitable fit for both the position and the organization. It is also important and helpful to view this as a two way street. The employer is looking to see if you fit with the organization, but you are also trying to determine if the position/organization is a good fit for your wants and needs as well.

 

 

One on One Interview
 

A typical job interview is one-on-one between a candidate for employment and a hiring manager. The interviewer will ask questions about the applicant's experience and skills, as well as about work history, availability, and the personal attributes the company is seeking in a new hire.

 

 
Behavioral Interview
 

Behavioral based interviewing is interviewing based on discovering how the interviewee acted in specific employment-related situations. The logic is that past performance predicts future performance.

 

Group or Panel Interview
 

A panel job interview takes place when an applicant for employment is interviewed by a panel or group of interviewers. There may be one candidate and multiple interviewers, multiple candidates and one interviewer, or several candidates and several interviewers.

 

Interviews in a Public Place

 

Employers sometimes schedule job interviews in a public place, like a coffee shop or restaurant. It could be because they are hiring for a field position and they don't have a local office. Or, it may be more convenient to interview candidates in a setting other than the office, especially if they don't want current employees to know that they're hiring.

 

Open Interview
 

An open interview is an interview for employment where companies accept job applications during a block of time when all applicants can attend. Interviews are held on a first-come, first serve basis.

 

Phone Interview
 

Employers use phone interviews as a way of identifying and recruiting candidates for employment. Phone interviews are often used to screen candidates in order to narrow the pool of applicants who will be invited for in-person interviews.

 

Video Interview
 

Video interviews are becoming more commonplace in the workplace. As hiring becomes more global, both for employers and candidates, video interviewing is a way to expedite the interview process. Make sure you set up your computer in an environment that is: well lit; quiet; clean and neutral (a blank wall is fine. You want a backdrop that let's the interviewer concentrate on you). You should also be sure you prep your appearance for a video interview. Dress and groom as if you were going to an in person interview.

 
Second Interview
 

A second interview may be a one-on-one interview with the person you originally interviewed with, other staff, or it can be a day-long interview. You may meet with management, staff members, executives, and other company employees.

 

Testing
 

In a number of organizations, such as those in hospitality industries, applicants might be required to complete personality, temperament and/or skills based testing to further assess the extent to which they align with the company culture.

 

FAQ's

How early should I be for an interview?

 

You should arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled time.  Use the extra time to browse through your notes one last time and observe the atmosphere. Keep in mind the  interview begins as soon as you walk through the door, so don’t talk on your cell phone or underestimate the receptionist! If you arrive more than 15 minutes before your interview, sit in your car or in the building lobby. You don’t want to show up too early and make the interviewer feel rushed.

 

What should I bring with me to the interview?

 

Bring several copies of your resume, company research, questions to ask, portfolio, references or recommendation letters, business cards, paper, pen and anything else they told you to bring. It is better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it. Make sure all of this information is in a folder or binder – no loose papers.

 

 

What should I know about the interview beforehand?

 

Try to find out as much as you can about what will take place so you will be prepared. Will you have to fill out an application? Will there be multiple interviews during your appointment? Will you be given a tour of the facility?  Will you have to take an assessment test?

 

 

What if I forget the interviewer’s name or don’t know how to pronounce it?

 

Simply call before your interview and ask the receptionist or administrative assistant. This is a situation that can be avoided very easily.

 

 

What if I am running late for an interview or can’t make it     at all?

 

If you will be late, call the interviewer and give them an estimated time of arrival and the reason for your tardiness. If something has come up and you can’t make it at all, be honest and get in touch with the interviewer as soon as possible.  Ask if it is possible for you to reschedule, however please realize that the employer will likely forfeit your interview altogether.

 

 

What research should I do on the company?

 

You should first start with the company website and look up their values, mission statement, future plans, products, services, honors, awards, current news, training and development opportunities and job openings. You should jot these things down and familiarize yourself with them. Your notes will come in handy when asked “What do you know about our company?” or “Why do you want to work here?”  You can also check out the Better Business Bureau, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter and Facebook for additional information. Don’t forget to look up the actual interviewer and know 2 – 3 things about him/her as well.

 

 

What questions should I ask during the interview?

 

You should have at least 3 questions to ask the interviewer. Just like the interviewer is trying to see if you are a good fit, you should be trying to see if the company is a good fit for you as well. Having no questions indicates that you are not really interested in the job.

 

 

How soon should I follow up after an interview?

 

You should definitely within 24 hours.  You want to do it right away so you don’t forget and so they don’t forget who you are.  You should thank them for taking the time to interview you and giving you the opportunity to learn more about the company. This can be done through an e-mail or handwritten note (e- mail is usually preferred). Mention something specific that you talked about in the interview to make them remember you. Remember, each interviewer needs to be thanked individually.

 

References

You do not need to provide references until the employer asks. You do need to be ready to supply the contact details for references following the interview, if asked. In most cases, an employer will ask for two references.

 

 

Who Can You Use as a Reference?
 
  • A previous employer or supervisor (the more recent the better)

  • A professional who can speak about their experience working with you

  • A teacher/professor/supervisor who provided oversight for an activity or event that you helped with 

  • A coordinator/supervisor for a volunteer activity you undertook 

  • If you do not have any work experience or any extracurricular experience from your time at university, think about people for whom you've done some casual work in the past (child care/ life guarding/ gardening/ helping a family member with projects or tasks/etc...)

  • Your references should be people who will provide positive recommendations 

  • It's a good idea to contact your references in advance to let them know you are providing their contact information to a potential employer

  • Do not use a family member or someone who is not a legitimate reference.

 
 
What will the employer ask the reference?
 

Usually the employer will confirm the type of relationship (eg. employee/supervisor/ etc.) The employer will often ask the reference to talk a bit about their experience working with you and whether you demonstrated some basic skills and qualities (responsibility, enthusiasm, work ethic, etc.)

 

 

 

Disclosure

You do not need to disclose the following details in your resume,  cover letter or interview:

 

Your race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion

Your height, weight, age, etc.

Medical issues

Your marital status, dependents, children

Do not include a picture of yourself

Your Facebook or Twitter passwords (you also do not need to add a prospective employer to your social media accounts)

Do not provide references until asked

 

For those with disabilities:

If your disability is invisible and does not affect your work, then you are not obligated to provide disclosure. Additional information on disclosure for those with visible disabilities is provided here.

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