8 Steps to Ace an Interview

An interview is a conversation about possibilities, a chance to learn and an opportunity to share information. Make the most of your interview: relax, take the time to respond clearly, and be yourself. The more worked up you allow yourself to get about an interview, the worse you will perform.  Remember that the interview is not just an opportunity for a company to decide whether they want to hire you, it is an opportunity for you to decide whether you want to work for that company.  Keep this in mind so that you feel empowered and confident in the interview.  Follow these 8 tips and you will be well on your way to getting that job.

1.   Be prepared! Learn as much as you can about the company and position in which you are interested.

2.   Practice potential responses out loud, in front of a mirror or patient friends and family members. Discover various strategies, transitions, and lead-ins for answering certain kinds of questions, talking to one person or a group, and changing topics or focus. Practice asking questions. Employers will expect you to ask about matters that concern you.

3.   Anticipate commonly asked questions by interviewers and develop a set of related responses that you can mold to a variety of individual situations.

Some interviewers may ask, for example:

  • How does your previous work experience relate to this job?
  • What suggestions have been given to you to improve your performance?
  • Have you had experience working as a part of a team?
  • What accomplishment has given you the greatest satisfaction?
  • How do you organize and plan for major projects?
  • How do you handle conflicting priorities?
  • What three things are most important to you in your career?
  • What contributions can you make to this department?
  • How does this job fit into your career path?
  • How has your education prepared you for this career?
  • Why did you choose your particular area of study?
  • Do you feel you will be able to adapt from an academic environment to a corporate one?
  • Give me an example of a major problem you have solved?
  • Give me an example of how you respond to professional criticism?
  • How would you resolve conflict in a group situation?

When answering questions try to use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result).

Situation: give an example of a situation you were involved in that resulted in a positive outcome

Task: describe the tasks involved in that situation

Action: talk about the various actions involved in the situation’s task

Results: what results directly followed because of your actions

4.   The interview is an opportunity to share information. You will have to talk about yourself, your interests, and your values. Don’t be shy about your accomplishments and experiences. Practice ways of phrasing replies about yourself that highlight your talents in a way that feels comfortable to you.

5.   Demonstrate to your interviewer your engagement in the conversation. Ask perceptive questions, be alert, make eye contact, provide relevant information, and relay your knowledge of and interest in the field and the organization. They want to know not only are you qualified, but that you are interested in their field, their company, and will be a dedicated member of their team.

6.   Observe all rules of courtesy and respect. Be punctual. Dress appropriately. Call people by their titles unless specifically directed to do otherwise. Express your thanks for the organization’s consideration of your candidacy.

7.   Arrive at least 15 minutes before the interview to collect yourself and take a few deep breaths. You’d be surprised how much that will help as compared to rushing in at the last minute. If you’re at the company location, use that time to observe what’s going on. Does this seem like a place where you’d like to work?

8.   Bring an extra resume with you. This process is by no means an exact science and you will learn to expect situations like . . .”We seem to have misplaced your resume.”

Rest assured that both interviewers and job seekers enter into the process hoping that it will proceed successfully. It is possible, though, that in spite of this good will the interview might not go as well as planned. To the greatest extent that you can, muster your courage, keep your chin up, and keep your confidence, dignity, and humor intact. Interviews are great ways to learn about career fields, particular positions, and, perhaps most importantly, yourself, whether or not you get a job offer.

Published by lessstressedstudents

Clare Tattersall is the Manager of Undergraduate Services for the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Western Ontario.

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