The most important thing you can do before an interview is prepare. This means thinking about your skills and experiences and how they relate to the position. Take some time to research the company and review the job posting. This will help you to anticipate some of the possible interview questions and be ready with relevant examples and demonstrations of your skills. Use the sample interview questions in this section as a guideline.
Most interviewers begin an interview by trying to make the interviewee feel at ease. They may initiate conversation by asking whether you had any trouble finding the office, commenting on the parking or lack of it, mentioning the weather or some other neutral topic. This period gives the interviewee a chance to calm down, gather their thoughts and focus on the interview itself. During the introductions it is appropriate to shake hands.
First Stage of the Interview
After the ice-breaking period, the interviewer may elaborate on the position for which you are being interviewed and then ask you what interests you have in the position. This is normally followed by general questions about your skills and experiences. Example of these might be:
- Tell me about yourself?
- Can you give me an idea of why you chose your particular area of study?
- What would you say were your strongest skills?
- Tell me of an accomplishment about which you feel particularly proud.
- What type of personality traits do you want to see in your boss and why?
- What did you enjoy most about your last job?
- What did you enjoy least and why?
- What would you consider an area of weakness?
- Your experience appears to be primarily in the area of public relations. How would you transfer that experience to this environment?
Second Stage of the Interview
The interviewer, now having a sense of who you are and what your skills are, moves into more specific questions directly related to the position for which you are being interviewed. At this stage of the interview, the interviewer wants to determine, whether or not you can do the job and how much of a contribution you could make. If the position is a technical one, you can expect to be asked detailed technical questions. If the position is in an area where there is a specific body of knowledge the questions will address that knowledge. This will also be when you could expect behavioural questions.
Examples of technical or knowledge based questions:
- What impact do you think the EU has had and will have on our business?
- What sources would you use to research this issue?
- What contacts would you start with to build your clientele?
- How might you present our research findings to the senior administration?
- How long would it take you to write a 500 word article?
- What type of design do you think would be best suited to this project?
Examples of Behavioural Questions:
- Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
- Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
- Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
- Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
- Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
- Please discuss an important written document you were required to complete.
- Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
- What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
- Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish failed.
Third Stage of the Interview
It is now your turn to demonstrate your understanding of the position and the organization by asking the questions you have both prepared ahead of time and thought of during the interview. Relate the questions to specific aspects of the position. Demonstrate that you have done your research and ask questions about issues mentioned in the annual report, and/or recent press clippings which relate to their mission or vision statement if they have one. You will also want to use this period to clarify any issues you feel are unclear. General questions you might want to ask are:
- How would success in this position be defined?
- Can you tell me more about the training program and who has access to it?
- Who do you see as your major competition?
- Is the senior administration committed to innovation?
- What might be the potential career paths for someone in this position?
- What do you anticipate the largest challenges facing the company to be?
- How committed is the company to the community and how is this played out?
- Your annual report indicates a significant decrease in the amount of research you are conducting. Do you perceive this to be an on-going trend?
Final Stage of an Interview
The final stage of an interview allows the interviewer to tell the interviewee when the hiring decision will be made, expected starting time, salary range, if it has not already been discussed and any other details related to the position. It is also an opportunity for the interviewee to ask any questions they still might have.
The interview normally ends with handshakes and the promise to be in touch when a decision has been made.
Need some practice? Call the Career Centre (748-1011 x6012 in Peterborough and (905) 435-5100 in Oshawa) and talk to the Career Counsellor about setting up a Mock Interview.