How to approach a job interview? How to prepare? These and other questions arise once you get shortlisted and call in for an interview.
The hiring process starts when you arrive at the new workplace. Keep in mind that everyone you meet could potentially be your new colleague or boss.
Arrive well in advance. Consider what will be appropriate attire in relation to the position you are applying for. Give a firm handshake. Keep eye contact. Be accommodating. Remember that they have found your application interesting and are looking forward to meeting you.
Although some of the question will be job specific, the general questions remain the same. Therefore, beside the job specific questions, you should prepare yourself how to answer questions about:
1. Tell about yourself!
This is the typical opening question job interviews. Be careful not to get carried away and talk to long. Keep your answers short and concise. Keep your total presentation within two minutes.
Talk about your education, competencies and briefly about your personality your goals. Do not focus on or apologize for your own perceived inadequacies in relations to the job. Be positive. Consider your choice of words carefully (be polite and do not use profanities etc.).
Prepare a 30 second pitch about yourself. Tell about you background and career goals. Include at last three positive personal qualities about yourself in the pitch. Train this pitch again and again until you know it by heart.
2. Why do you want to work for us?
Avoid general answers like: "Because I think the (communication) industry is exciting". Instead give an answer that show that you know how to fill the needs of the business. Mention two or three attractive attributes about the job - things that you find interesting to work with. Avoid talking about problems you have identified with the job (unless you can also present a really good solution!).
A good idea is to look at the company's website before the job interview and/or acquaint yourself with the company’s business both generally and specifically.
For example, you can answer:
"Because the company is involved in tasks that I would like to work on (example), and I think the company has a strong brand that I would be proud to be part of. I know You’re looking for a new employee who is outgoing and creative (research their needs - possibly via their job advertisement), and I think I can fill that role! "
3. What are your strengths?
Find three to five strengths - Your best qualities match the job. Say, for example, "I am analytical, committed, energetic and empathetic".
Practice using real world examples. Explain when and how you used your competences. When was the last time you were analytical? And how? – give a specific example of an analysis you did. How does your commitment show? Give clear and concise examples that emphasize your qualifications.
4. What are your weaknesses?
Be on guard here. Acknowledge first what could be your areas of development. Maybe you make small mistakes because you are efficient and energetic. This could be disguised by saying: “since I am very efficient in my job, sometimes I overlook small details. I am aware of this and is becoming better at working at a slower pace if it’s a detail-oriented task.
If you have a personally that: "demands a lot of yourself". Spin it into a good thing – say that you are a good and conscientious performer, but that this can occasionally take overhand and turn into a small weakness.
For example, if you are super-analytical, you can sometimes be so detail-oriented that you keep finding mistakes instead of making it perfect – and so you end up spending too long on a task. Explain that you are aware of this and continuously try to find the right balance.
Identify one or two weaknesses and formulate your ‘pitch’ about them so it’s clear that you an aware of them and that they also (very often) contain a strength. E.g. attention to detail is a good skill, especially if you know when to use is and when not to, for example if you have a very tight deadline.
5. How do you collaborate with others?
The job you are applying for should suit the working-methods you thrive on.
If you are a team player and love sparring and collaboration, tell how the company can get the most out of you in a team.
You see yourself as well-functioning and constructive team-member and do not have any recollections of any problems collaborating with other people.
Find some examples where you did a job, task or collaboration especially well. Prepare a pitch highlighting how you did it and how it benefitted your former employer. These very specific examples of performance are great at highlighting your skills and competencies.
6. How do you prioritize your tasks? - What is most important?
Sell yourself as if you thrive on clear speech and expectations. Do not talk about your experiences with stress, incompetent bosses, or bad experiences – so you’re not perceived as a person who complains.
“I prioritize my tasks with focus on deadlines and resources. I like being in dialogue with my boss and colleagues about how to prioritize tasks and discuss modus. I try to estimate each task and structure how I complete assignments”
7. What are your long-term goals? How long to you plan to stay with us?
No one can make prophecies about the future, but you wish to stay for several years, and are eager to learn and become an expert on your field so you can excel at your work tasks
Find out what the goals of the company through their website or google. Relate these goals to your own goals. Carefully consider what professional goals you have.
8. Why should we hire you?
If you think you have already answered this, your somewhat right, but only somewhat. What you need to do now is to sum up you’re your presentation, especially your strength and weaknesses.
Be sincere and test the waters. You need to think about how your core competencies can help the company achieve its goals. Sell yourself so they understand that they cannot live without you.
9. What do you expect in salary?
You may be asked about your salary expectations already during the first job interview. Prepare yourself by checking the salary level in the industry before the interview. Also consider how important perks like free phone, home computer, extra vacation days are to you. Your labor unions are well informed about salary levels, perks etc. so consider consulting them before the interview.
TIP: Salary discussions can be a sensitive issue. If you get this question during at your first interview, you can say that you would like more information about the responsibilities of the position before you can give a meaningful answer. If the interviewer continues, you can answer: “You know I earn X now. And like everyone else, I want to improve my salary, but my top priority is getting the job”
Let the employer know that the salary is not the most important thing. However, do NOT sell yourself too cheaply. Often it is also a trick question to see how desperate you are after the position. Connect the salary to the job and point out that the job is the most important of these two.
10. Why should we choose you over someone else?
Anyone who can convince the company that you make more money than you cost - gets hired. Highlight your abilities, interests, and experience. Say that you are convinced that you will be able to make a positive difference for the company, and you will help to create profits, team-spirit, and results.
Tell how you will approach the work tasks. Or prepare a success story of how you have previously managed to solve a difficult task - related to the tasks in the new position.
You can also focus on your unique working style, and how that will be an asset to the new company.
You can also focus on your work style because your style makes you suitable for creating results in the upcoming job. Or point out the theoretical skills you have that makes you perfect for the job.
The most important thing is that you can show the company that you are indispensable to getting the job done – and that no others can do it as well. Sell yourself and believe in your abilities!
The best way to prepare for a job interview (role-playing game)
An optimal way to prepare for a job interview is to rehearse as a role-playing game. Make an appointment with a friend to play your interviewer. Your friend is the boss who ask all the questions and you are the applicant.
Afterwards, you can get feedback on your performance. Write your good answers down so you can practice them again and again. It creates confidence and practice makes perfect. The practice will make you more confident and you will seem more calm, well-considered and because of that you will be hired!
A job interview can vary in time. From 20 minutes to several hours. A good idea is to ask the company in advance how long the interview will be and if there are tests during the interview. Remember, the interview begins the second you walk through the door at the company.
Have your friend give you feedback by following instructions:
- Tell me what I did well (at least five things)
- Give me constructive criticism and tell me where/how to improve. Take a positive spin on the critique and focus on how it can be used to improve your performance.
- What is your very special strength? Something that comes natural to you and that works really well?
It is important that you are open to the feedback. Listen and take it in – and do not go in defense mode. Listen and learn. Be ready for tole play:
Tip: research the company values before the interview. Consider how the work tasks are weighted and how they can be solved. Think about how you can add value with your competencies. The importance of research and preparation cannot be overstated.