In many ways, a job interview is like a date. After reviewing your cover letter and CV and determining you have enough of the skills and experience needed for the role, the hiring manager is interested in getting to know you a little better. Through a series of questions, interviewers want to learn about more than just your qualifications; they’re also looking to understand your thought process and personality to determine if you’re the right fit for their company.
Because these questions may be hypothetical, even if you haven’t experienced the exact situation presented in the question, you must still provide a response. Remember, interviewers want to understand your approach, your thought process. So take your time and think it through. And then clearly take the interviewer through the steps you would take to solve the issue presented to you.
Similar to behavioural questions, situational questions can be hypothetical and are meant to provide insight into your analytical and problem-solving skills. They also give interviewers an opportunity to see how you handle problems on the spot, without a lot of preparation time.
Spend a few hours learning everything you can about the company—from as many sources as you can. Talk to friends and contacts, read current news releases, and, yes, spend some time on Google. Often, candidates just look at the information a company is pushing out via the website and social media, but fail to look more in depth at what others are saying. By doing so, you’ll get the larger picture about the company (along with any negative press).
Try to relate what you know about the company when answering questions. When discussing your career accomplishments, match them to what the company is looking for. Use examples from your research when answering questions, “I noticed that when you implemented a new software system last year, your customer satisfaction ratings improved dramatically. I am well versed in the latest technologies from my experience with developing software at ABC, and appreciate a company who strives to be a leader in its industry.” Take the time to make a match between your expertise and the company's requirements, and to sell yourself to the interviewer.
When an interviewer asks you a question, it’s not a test! You don’t need to deliver a prepared speech in return. Avoid buzzwords or speech patterns you wouldn’t normally use; this is just a conversation. Turn the question over in your mind, feel free to think out loud as you do so. “Ah, I’ve actually thought about this myself. It reminds me of X. My instinct is to say Y, but I can see the draw of Z too because of Q…”
At the end of the interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them. In addition to all your well-researched prepared questions, ask, “Do you have any reservations about me as a candidate for this position?” If your interviewer was going to come away from the interview with any negative feelings – s/he has a chance to air them, and you can address the concern head-on. This is your chance to show your assertiveness, your critical thinking, and your radical candor. Never walk away without it. It seriously makes an impression.
Interviews can be intimidating, and it isn’t always clear what employers are looking for. But while this awkward professional situation is sometimes daunting, like anything else, it is a skill that can be practised and perfected. The more carefully you prepare, the better you will do.
Interview thank you email After your first interview, it can be tempting to sit back and wait for the job offer to roll in. Don't undermine all the good job interview preparation you did by faltering at this stage - keep the lines of communication with your potential employer open by sending an interview thank you email.
Enjoy this video by the BBC about Interviews.