Preparing for an Interview – the Dick and Jane Series:

I would like to say that this video is an extreme example of what not to do; however, I have been told many tales from employers that make Dick look like a pretty good candidate.

  1. The reality is, like everything in life, you get from it what you put into it.  If you want to impress, take the time to get to know the company that you are interviewing with. Read the mission and vision statement, look for strategic plans and other planning documents that will help you understand what the company’s goals and challenges are.  Stay up to date with market trends and information that may be impacting them at the moment.  If you can reference current conditions in that industry and show your awareness, they will see that you are a focused, diligent and generally aware.
  2. Think of an interview as 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.
  3. 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 different kinds of questions, talking to one person or a group, and changing topics or focus.
  4. Practice asking questions. Employers will expect you to ask one or two questions at the end, so prepare something ahead of time.
    Ask things like: What are your priorities for this position within the first 6 months?
    What are you looking for in an ideal candidate for this role?
    Do not ask things like:    What is your vacation allotment?
    Do you have a maximum number of sick days that employees can take?
    If you ask the right sorts of questions, it will give you an opportunity, once they answer it, to follow-up with further examples of how you would be a good fit.  If they mention that their ideal candidate would be exceptional at multi-tasking and time management and you did not highlight that in your initial responses, now is the time.
  5. Anticipate commonly asked questions by interviewers and develop a set of related responses that you can mold to a variety of individual situations. Prepare responses that cover the main areas that just about all employers are going to want to know about.  Such as: ability to work in a team, ability to work independently, communication skills, work ethic and reliability, interpersonal skills and conflict management, multi-tasking and time management skills, project management and organizational abilities, career goals, greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses.
  6. Choose an interview outfit that is clean, respectable, and modest.  What you wear tells them how seriously you are taking this interview.  If you show up in a suit, they know that you respect them and the job.  If you show up in regular pants and a sweater, you are not too keen or interested in making a good impression.  If you show up in jeans and have a baseball cap on, then you are wasting their time.

Tell me about your best and worst interview experiences.

Published by lessstressedstudents

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

2 thoughts on “Preparing for an Interview – the Dick and Jane Series:

  1. Of course with such dramatic difference it’s clear who will be the best. However, I know some people that have been training hard for an interview and still didn’t do well, while some have been staying up late and wearing random closes and kicked ass. Though, it matters much less for software engineers, where no one cares about what you’re wearing, while wearing costume for bankers is a must. You can frequently see a guy in sport-style pants, T-shirt and sandals going for a Google/Facebook/startup interview. And he does well!

    University of Waterloo student

    1. You are right Vlad. What you wear and what goes over well is completely dependent upon the industry and company that you are interviewing with. All the more reason to network and have a contact at the company so you can see what the culture is, how people dress, what is most important to them in terms of skills and personal traits.

      You can even see these cultural differences in academia, where is business they all use power point when teaching, in English Literature you are seen as an idiot if you use power point, and in Geography where it is cool to wear sandals and socks. It is all about knowing and adapting to the culture. An interview is about seeing if you are a good “fit” for their company.

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