Does the thought of going to a job interview make you break out in a cold sweat? If so, you’re not alone. Mild uneasiness to down right panic may be some of the feelings you are experiencing. Just relax, take a deep breath, and follow these simple tips to help you overcome the interview.
Before you even think about going to any interview there is one thing you should do: prepare, prepare, prepare. It couldn’t be said enough. Make sure that your resume is updated, easy to read, and cleanly formatted. Know what is on your resume because if asked you should be able to tell it from memory. You should also do a little research on the company you are interviewing with. Find out what their standards and policies are and if in sales, their product line. Adapt their ideas and values to fit your professional character.
Secondly you should review some sample interview questions and practice them aloud with a friend or family member. There are some questions that are commonly asked at interviews in all industries that you should be prepared to answer. As you review the following questions, develop your own answers that are specific to your professional character and job relevance. Nothing impresses a company representative more than a well-informed and prepared interviewee.
Why should we hire you?
This is your chance to sell yourself. Be brief yet detailed and lay out your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest about your professional conduct and what you can bring to the table. There is nothing worse than having a great interview and then later not being able to meet up to expectations. If you are truthful in the beginning it will pay off later. Remember that everyone says they are hardworking and motivated so come up with something a little more original. Include unique qualities about yourself and what you can offer the company.
Why do you want to work here?
This question is usually asked to find out if you’ve done your homework. Never, never, never attend an interview if you haven’t done a little research on the company. When you find out what the company is about and what they do best, you will be better prepared to answer this question. If you have a little knowledge it will show initiative on your part. Remember to include a remark about how your experience will benefit the company and fits what they need.
What are your greatest weaknesses?
This is an especially hard question because it is a semi-personal question. No one likes to admit their weaknesses but it is important to be honest. Instead of saying you suck at this or that, show how you have turned each weakness into strengths. For example if you work better alone mention that you are not afraid to ask for help when needed, or if you like working in groups make sure your interviewer knows you are capable of working alone also.
Why did you leave your last job?
Again, be honest but not negative. Your future employer doesn’t want to hear you ranting about your last job and how terrible everything was. Find a few positives to mention. If you left because of problems with management or other employees find an optimistic way to mention it.
Describe a problem and how you helped.
This may be a tough question if you don’t have a lot of professional experience or just graduated from college. The potential employer wants to see that you can think critically to develop solutions. If you have a professional history show how you came up with a solution to a problem and how it was implemented. If you do not have professional experience, think back to any time in your life where it was dire that you make the right decision. Any answer is better than no answer. Whatever you do, do not say I don’t know or I never had a problem to solve because we’ve all had one.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
The secret to getting this question right is to be as specific as possible. Think of recognitions and awards you have received that are specific to your job title. Remember to keep in mind the qualities the company is looking for. For example, if the company is looking for someone dependable tell them about the perfect attendance award you received or employee of the month award. Your main objective throughout the interview is to demonstrate how you can fill the company’s needs. You want them to think that you are the only choice for the job, without a stitch of doubt.
What are your salary expectations?
When discussing salary and pay it is important to be realistic. Research the salary ranges in your field or job title to get an idea of what you should say. Typically, the more experience you have the higher amount of pay you could ask for. Be open to discussing salary specifics after you have been offered the job. Never discuss pay down to the penny in an interview. It looks bad on your part because the company may get the idea you are only about the money. Simply say you would be willing to consider anything within a specific range.
Tell me about yourself.
This is another one of those hard questions and a lot of people get it wrong. It’s not that people are answering it wrong per say, it’s just hard to get right because it is such a broad question. Have an idea of what you want to say beforehand. This question is generally asked to find out what your professional points and highlights are. Include you experiences and goals, as well as the desire to be a part of their company. Leave out the personal stuff like your hobbies, children, and other non-relevant information because it is not going to help you get the job, it may actually decrease your chance of getting a second interview.