Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Tips for Interviews

Since the beginning of my search for a job, I have been to 6 interviews. I can honestly say that I really enjoyed all of them. Each one was different and while you will never know what questions will be, there have been very similar themes that are a good idea to prepare for. Here are my tips:

1. I noticed that it helps to get there early so you have time to sit a while and calm down. No matter how not-nervous you are about the procedure, it's a good idea not to rush in straight into the interviewing room. I know this sounds cheesy, but a couple of deep breaths really helped me.

2. Remember that whoever is interviewing you is a person just like yourself and they put pants on one leg at a time. They like to laugh, they like friendly people, they like enthusiasm, they want an employee who will fit in the company. Not too often, but once in a while I would throw in a joke (if it was an appropriate time and mood). Once an agent asked me what I would like to improve on, I said that I would like to floss more often. Ok, maybe a bit corny but it certainly broke the ice. Then, I told them what to I would like to improve on.

3. Be honest. There were a couple of times when I slipped a little with this one, I have to admit. One time was when I was asked how much I made in my previous position. Because it was a different country, different position and in all honesty, I didn't remember correctly, I ended up telling them more than I really made. Even though there were no consequences, I regretted it. If they check just one thing and it doesn't match to what you have said....

4. Contact your references and remind them that they might be contacted. I put my reference on the sheet and this person was out of the office for a few days, I was a bit embarrassed when I was told that they can't get a hold of this person. Since it was a boss who was always on top of things, I had some letters with me. That said, life happens, so do what you can to the best ability and don't stress about the rest.

5. The questions to prepare for:
Tell us briefly about yourself.
I know that this doesn't sound like a hard one but it IS. After mumbling through with a lot of "aaaahhh" and "hmmmms" the first few interviews, I sat down and WROTE down a summary of a. my jobs and b. accomplishments. This is not the time to tell about your dog named Max, this is where you sell yourself. ALWAYS tailor it to the job your applying for. Practice and memorize it. At the job where I was hired, this was the first question and after I was done, the feedback was "Wow, that was quite impressive". That's what you want - impress them from the beginning. 90% of the time this will be the first question.

Why are you applying to this job?
Once again, I was asked this questions almost in all my interviews. This is where you tell them a short summary of why you want to do this - put your heart into it. The more you can show that this is not just a job, but something your interests, your passions lie with, the better your chances are. In the same breath, spill all the qualifications and previous experiences and why you are a better candidate than anyone else.

What are your streghts
Short and concise. In my resume I had a section with my strenghts. All employers will want a. a good communicator b. organized employee. Put in the time to do research and then give EXAMPLES to back up what you are saying

What are your weaknesses
I really strongly dislike this question and I won't tell you here what my answers were. All I can tell is that don't give cliche answers. And whatever you end up saying, back it up with a statement of how you work on it and overcome that problem so that in the end you are showing your strenghts.

How do you deal with pressure and stress?
For a long time I kept saying that I just stay in the office until the job is done, which I later realized was not that good of an answer. I thought about it and realized that being organized is the key. Prioritization and being organized is a way how I deal with stress. Does that apply to you?

Some of the more quirky questions that left me a bit... surprised were:
Do you have passion for the Internet?
Give us an exapmle of why you consider yourself organized
Give us an example of a conflict situation and how you overcame it

Hope this helps and make it fun, enjoy the people you are talking to, that will leave a good impression no matter what!


yellowgirl said...

This is a good, educational post! Good tips!

Melody said...

I never have good answers to those questions. I think though that I will the next time I have to go interviewing, just because I have more experience to have answers to those questions.

photojournalist said...

Thanks :) This will help a lot.