Congratulations! You’ve been invited to a job interview. A job interview is your chance to sell yourself to a potential employer. It allows hiring managers to meet you face-to-face and determine your fit with the organization. An interview also allows you to evaluate the employer, and see if you would really like to work there. However, if you’re ever been to a job interview, you already know that it can be an extremely stressful and nerve-racking experience.
Preparing upfront for an interview is key to help you get ready to answer those tough questions, identify your strengths and what you would bring to the role. But what do you need to do to prepare?
The 4 keys to successful interview preparation
- Know yourself.
A successful job interview begins with knowing yourself and presenting the best version of you to a potential employer.
How will you fit with the job? Re-read the job posting and your application, and write down:
- What are the duties of this job that you can perform?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Why do you want the job?
- Where do you see yourself in five years and how does this job fit with that?
Come up with your STARs
Seventy to 80% of job interviewers will ask behavioral interview questions. These are questions designed to help the employer discover more about how you’ve handled specific challenges or job-related situations in the past. Behavioral questions may start with “Tell me about a time when …”
For these questions, you want to prepare in advance and emphasize your skills and the results you achieved through a process called “STAR”:
S – Situation – Explain the situation.
T – Task – What were the tasks involved?
A – Action – What was the action you took?
R – Results – What were the successful results you achieved? What was the bottom line result for your team, your company or the client?
Tell me about yourself.
This is one of the most common interview questions you’ll be asked. Employers are trying to get a sense of who you are, what your experience is, and if you’re a fit for the organization. Come up with a 90-second response that speaks to the following points:
Personality: Who you are and what you want
Achievements: List one or two significant accomplishments related to the position, and one thing you like and are good at.
Goal: List one goal tied into your field.
Education and Experience: Give a quick summary of your education and experience.
Determine your strengths.
Knowing your strengths is another important part of knowing yourself. Visualize that you’re working for your former boss or co-workers. What would they say about you? What are 10 compliments your boss would give you? Write down your answers.
- Know the position you are interviewing for.
When re-reading the job posting, evaluate the skills you’ll need to have for this position, and how you can demonstrate those skills with your experience. Think of examples from your work history, college or university experience, volunteer work, or other projects you’ve worked on.
- Know the company.
For any job interview, spend time researching the company you’ll be interviewing at. Many employers will ask you what you know about them, so you want to be prepared.
Research the following information about the organization:
- Know how they see themselves.
- What is their market, products and goods.
- Memorize useful facts.
- Who is the president of the organization?
- What are their mission, vision, values?
- Have they won any awards?
- Know the industry.
Not only should you know about the specific position and company you’re interviewing at, but you should also be well-informed about your industry as a whole. Identify what’s going on in your sector right now.
Prepare answers to commonly asked job interview questions in advance, and have your responses ready. Be sure to rehearse! Go through a mock interview with a friend or family member and practice until you’re comfortable. Always be well-dressed, well-rested and above all, be yourself.
Sheridan’s Faculty of Continuing and Professional Studies (FCAPS) offers a wide range of free professional development workshops. Visit caps.sheridancollege.ca for more information on how Sheridan can help you on the path to a successful career.