Your Guide to Getting Hired
How to Prepare for an Interview
Your key to a standout impression is preparation. It is normal for people to approach a job interview with some anxiety. Preparation takes a good amount of the tension out of interviewing. Your confidence and calm demeanor will set a positive mood for the meeting.
1. ASK about the interview process.
- Who will you be interviewing with and for how long?
- Will you be interviewing with one person or a panel of people?
- Are you talking to the hiring manager or a representative of the human resources department?
- Will the interview be on the phone or in-person?
2. KNOW what you’re looking for in the position.
- Understand the value you bring to an organization
- Consider the ways the position will help you grow and achieve your goals
3. ARTICULATE clearly what you have to offer and be prepared to give details, if asked.
- Be prepared to address questions about skills you might not have
- Practice your elevator pitch
4. LEARN about the company, the interviewer, and the position.
- Research the organization so that you are prepared to explain what you know and ask insightful questions
- Research the interviewer on LinkedIn (if available) to understand their background and see whether you have any connections
- Network with anyone you know who works for the company to gain insight about the position and company
- Study the job description and make notes of your questions
- Be prepared to address questions about skills you might not have
5. PRACTICE answering some typical interview questions and be ready to ask questions as well.
- Keep your answers focused on the problem-solving process and solutions as opposed to the situation
During the Interview
Sample Interview Questions
Questions You Should Be Prepared to Answer
Questions to Ask During an Interview
- Why does this company or job interest you?
- How long do you expect to work with us if hired?
- Tell me about your previous employment.
- What strengths do you bring to this position?
- What are your weaknesses?
- How do you spend your spare time?
- What kind of person can’t you work with?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Tell me about your ability to handle difficult situations on the job.
- How did you get along with your previous supervisor and co-workers?
- Tell me about two accomplishments that have given you the most satisfaction.
- Tell me about a problem or challenge you faced and how you handled it.
- What motivates you?
- Why should I hire you?
- Tell me about your ability to handle conflicts in the workplace.
- What courses did you like best in school?
- What is your plan for managing multiple priorities in the workplace?
- What kind of supervision do you prefer?
- Would you describe the responsibilities of the job?
- Why has this position become available?
- Who does my potential manager report to in the company?
- Could you tell me about the structure of the department?
- What do you like most about the company?
- How much authority will I have to make decisions?
- How much employee turnover is common in this job area?
- What are your biggest challenges?
- What do you consider ideal experience for this job?
- What are the main results you’d like to see me produce?
- How will success in this position be measured?
- Are you also considering internal candidates?
- What are the characteristics of the most successful people working here?
- How would you describe the company culture and work environment?
The more you prepare in advance, the more likely you are to present yourself in a compelling way.
Tip: Appearance, body language, and calm engagement are very important.
- Dress professionally and appropriately for the organization and err on the side of over-dressing if you are uncertain of the standard
- Turn your cell phone off
- Use warm handshakes at the beginning and end of an interaction
- Accept water if offered, but decline coffee and food as they can distract you
- Use direct eye contact, smile, and be friendly
- Sit comfortably and don’t fidget, squirm, or slouch in your chair
- Allow yourself time to think before answering hypothetical ‘what-if’ types of questions, and always have a real-life example to reinforce your response
What Employers Look For
Decision-makers tend to be very careful when it comes to hiring talent. Selection criteria used by employers will vary based on the industry and position available.
- Your knowledge or interest in the career field
- Academic, volunteer, work activities or other experience
- Accomplishments showcasing your potential for success in the role
- Analytical and problem-solving ability
- Self-awareness and self-confidence
2. Work ethic and communication skills
- Effective communication skills and ability to interact with others
- Demonstrated ability to work with others (peers, supervisors and consultants)
- Demonstrated ability to work in teams
- Work ethic and attitude toward supervisors and colleagues
- Ability to manage multiple priorities
3. Personal qualities
- Enthusiasm, poise, flexibility, adaptability, cheerfulness, and sense of humor
- Expression of clear and realistic career goals and future plans
- Appearance, including grooming and dress
- Mature behavior and judgment
- A good fit with the culture of the organization
After the Interview
1. Send a Thank You Note
The simple act of sending a “thank you” is a thoughtful gesture, which is appreciated by most prospective employers. If you met with more than one person, send an individualized card or note to each. Even if you are no longer interested in the position, sending a note is still customary. Handwritten notes are a nice gesture, but email is an acceptable method as well.
2. Follow Up
Remember that if you don’t get a response from an employer within a reasonable period of time (about two to three weeks at most), make a telephone call to find out the status of your application. It is best not to follow up by using email unless invited by the employer to do so.
Reasons Employers Don't Hire
Many studies have been done to find out why employers do not hire. Listed below are some of the most common reasons leading to rejection of an applicant. Note that most of them are not related to skills and experience.
- Poor personal appearance or inappropriate dress and grooming
- “Know-it-all” or “expert mode” verbal behavior
- No purpose or goal in career planning
- Lack of interest or enthusiasm
- Lack of self-confidence or being ill at ease
- No participation in activities or interests
- Too much emphasis on money and benefits
- Lack of willingness to start at the bottom and work your way up
- Evasiveness about unfavorable facts in a resumé or other records
- Lack of maturity or being ill-mannered
- Negative comments about past employers