7 STEPS TO A GREAT JOB INTERVIEW

Acing an interview depends on you showing up prepared, informed, calm, and presentable. These seven simple, applicable steps – from the moment you are invited to an interview until well after it – increase your chances of success.

Research the company
& the position 

 

Every company, business, or organization you apply to will want to gauge what you know about them and why you want to work for them. Therefore, learn as much about them as you can: for example, browse their website, Google them, speak to someone that works there, or look them up on Linkedin or Facebook. Try to find out:

  • What do they share about themselves online? (companies and organizations often have pages on their websites called “About Us” or “Our History” or “Meet the Team”)
  • What is their mission statement or values?
  • How are they involved in the local community?
  • What is the main thing driving the company at this time? (e.g. expanding their service area, surviving COVID, finding reliable staff, getting more customers, etc.)
  • What are the main tasks of the specific position you are applying for?
  • How does your experience relate to these job requirements?

 

 

 

Prepare your References

 

When making a decision, interviewers rely heavily on positive feedback from your references. Therefore, you’d want to make sure that any contact they have goes smoothly, and that your references will speak positively about you. You can facilitate this by:

  • Always getting permission to use someone as a reference
  • Letting them know you have an interview and that they may be contacted soon
  • Telling them about the job or sending them a copy of the job posting
  • Asking them if they would speak to a specific area of the job that you would like highlighted (e.g. if the job posting calls for an excellent communicator, ask if they could speak to your communication skills)
  • If you want an idea of what their reference might sound like, asking them what they would say if asked about _____
  • Don’t forget to send a thank you note to your references later, regardless of the interview’s outcome

 

 

 

Practice your answers!

 

This may arguably the most important preparation you make for your interviews. Have you noticed how public speakers (or stand-up comics) appear effortless in finding the right words to talk on a topic, or speaking in a way to keep you engaged (or get you laughing)? Their apparent confidence depends much less on wit and cleverness than on diligent, repeated practice.

You can write out your answers (certain questions, like “tell us about yourself” can be reasonably expected in any interview), rehearse them in front of the mirror, or practice with your friends & family.

  • What will you tell them about yourself?
    Consider: What are your professional accomplishments, skills, and special strengths? How could these bring value to the position and benefit the company? What sets you apart? What is your greatest strength?
  • Why do you want this job?
    Consider: How did you become interested in this field? What appealed to you about working at this specific organization? How do you see yourself growing within this field/job?
  • What past work experiences have made you a valuable employee?
    Consider: What challenges have you faced (e.g. learning a new system) and how did you deal with them? How did you make a positive impact at your last place of work? Have you ever dealt with an upset coworker or customer? Have you had any unique learning opportunities?

    Note: these types of questions are called Behavioural Questions 
  • What is your biggest weakness?
    Consider: What is a “safe” weakness you can share (i.e. something professionally appropriate that doesn’t act as a “deal breaker” for the position). How are you able to wrangle this weakness into something positive? How are you working to improve this?

Set up a mock interview!

Practice your interview skills with an Employment Counsellor!

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The Day Before

 

 

  • If possible, travel to the interview location; know the exact location, travel times, and parking availability
  • Prepare your clothing and footwear; ensure your clothes are clean and ironed.
  • Prepare and pack copies of any documents the employer may be requesting (e.g. certifications or references)
  • Pack extra copies of your resume
  • Pack a notebook and a pen for notes and your questions for the employer

 

 

 

The DAY OF THE INTERVIEW

 

 

  • Attend to your personal grooming (e.g. clean and tidy hair) and wear your clean, wrinkle-free business attire.
  • Avoid scents (e.g. strong after-shave)
  • Make sure you have a pleasant, fresh breath (bring a toothbrush or mints)
  • Do not attend interviews with friends.
  • Arrive 10 minutes early and let them know you are there.
  • Be polite and professional with everyone
  • Stay relaxed and breathe. Try to remember that you are interviewing them as well

 

 

 

DURING THE INTERVIEW

 

This is the moment you have preparing for! You have done your research,  attended to your personal presentation, practiced your answers – now, it’s time to breathe deeply, stay calm and shine as a strong candidate! 

  • Smile. smile Show your friendly and enthusiastic personality
  • Be confident, without vanity or arrogance
  • Give a firm handshake and make good eye contact
  • Avoid one-line answers. Elaborate, provide context, but do not ramble
  • When your answer includes a narrative (e.g. recalling a past work situation), use the STAR method
  • If you do not know something, acknowledge it and express your willingness to learn. Do not risk guessing an answer; ask for clarifications.
  • If you’re stuck on a question, ask if you can come back to the question or ask for a moment to think about it
  • Listen attentively and make sure you answer the entire question
  • Never speak negatively of past employment, co-workers or employers. In fact, avoid all negative inferences
  • Don’t front (i.e. exaggerate or compare yourself to others)
  • Do not flatter the interviewer(s)
  • Do not discuss politics, religion, alcohol, partying or controversial subjects
  • With each question, stay focused on how you can add value to the company (i.e “what in it for them”)
  • Ask questions that show your knowledge of the organization and demonstrate that you are also evaluating their fit for you
  • Remember the names of those who interviewed you
  • As the interview ends, thank the interviewer (by name) for their time and for the opportunity to share your interest and experience
  • Do not linger; leave promptly after the interview is over

AFTER THE INTERVIEW

 

Once the interview is complete, you can still infuence its outcome, by continuing to make a positive impression on the hiring peron or team. These follow up steps are overlooked by many job seekers, so they could truly help you “stick out from the crowd”

 

  • Follow up in writing: email or drop off a card thanking them for their time and restate your interest in the position
  • If you have not heard by the timeline provided, call them after a few days
  • Make a list of the interview questions you remember being asked and add them to your repertoire of answers to practice.
  • Reflect on your performance. What did you do well? What you could improve?
  • If you were unsuccessful, ask for feedback from your interviewer, including suggestions for improvement and/or specific skills or experiences that you did not demonstrate?

master your interview skills

How can you best answer open-ended interview questions?
How to set yourself up for a Skype/Zoom interview?

What should you include in a follow-up note?

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