Interviews go one of two ways: so horribly wrong you’ll still kick yourself about it weeks later, or wildly successful with the promise of a real adult job. How do you escape the constant terror of forgetting what you wanted to say or accidentally calling your potential boss by the wrong name? Preparation. Preparing answers to common interview questions and knowing about the company, your employment position and your own skills will let you walk in and out of an interview with confidence and a smile on your face.
First, research yourself. It sounds crazy, but doing some soul searching will help you figure out what you want to say.
Think about the common interview questions the interviewer will ask.
What skills do you have that make you qualified for this job position?
You’ll definitely want to bring specific examples to the table. AbbVie Inc. employee Lisa Filar is the Director of Compliance and holds extensive interviews for her team. “I’m looking for candidates who can articulate their contributions to a solution. Typically, superstar candidates can be very specific about what they personally did as part of a team,” said Filar. To be a “superstar candidate,” when you bring up the skills required for the position, give examples of when you’ve successfully used these skills to totally kill it, whether it was a group assignment or a volunteer position.
When was a time that you showed leadership skills?
. This shows preparedness as you clearly know what the job is looking for and how to show this in your past experiences,” said Barnett.
Tell me about a time you failed to meet an objective?
Being able to talk about how you failed in the past, and how you came out stronger and better prepared afterwards says a lot about how you work. Interviewers use this question to catch people off guard. People who prepped to show their strong points may not have thought about their weak points as much. “Lots of people hate talking about failures, but showing your interviewers you have self awareness is vital,” said Barnett.
Talking about weaknesses also shows how you’ve learned from these experiences. “There is no perfect candidate, so if someone says that they don’t have any ‘weaknesses’….that is a red flag for me. We all can improve on some aspect of ourselves,” said Filar. Follow this up with how your failure helped you grow, and what you did to prevent it from happening again. The only thing better than self-awareness is self-improvement.
What prior experience experience do you have with _____?
If you just hit the job market, this can feel like a killer. You may feel like you have nothing to say because you haven’t held a professional job before, or even a job in a similar field, but keep in mind that any work experience or experience with leadership in a club or activity will teach you helpful skills you need for the job. “When I was interviewed for a job at the clothing store Lester’s, they asked about my previous experience and, not having any previous sales associate jobs, I instead talked about my experience babysitting. I related working with kids to being able to successfully engage the clothing store’s target audience,” said Syracuse University freshman Sydney Kaplan. Draw connections between experiences to show your preparation for the new role.
Additionally, prepare thorough, honest yet flattering answers to the following questions.
What’s your greatest strength and weakness?
Tell me about a time when you created something out of nothing?
Why are you interested in this job?
Why are you leaving your previous job?
How would people describe you?
Next, research the company and position.
Being knowledgeable about the company will show your passion and interest in their mission, and if you prove you know what you’re going into, they’ll trust you actually want their job, not just any job. To research a company, start with their website. You’ll often find their mission statement, a key to the types of questions you might be asked and what they are looking for in a hire with just a little bit of Google stalking. Confidence grows from knowledge, so research is the best way to cure your anxious nerves. A deep conversation will come much easier with familiarity of the company and their product or service.