How to Prepare for Job Interviews

The average worker over 35 will job hunt every five to eight years (those under the age of 35 every three to five years). Though most would agree that interviewing well is critical to securing a good job, a surprising number of job hunters are poorly prepared for the interviewing process — with predictable results.

Prospective employers have all heard the same claims: “I’m a self-starter, an excellent communicator, team player/leader and I work well with others.”

These general claims are no longer good enough to land a good job.

Job seekers today need to provide proof of their ability to do the job successfully.

Prospective employers know there is no greater predictor of potential future performance than past performance; they want solid examples — beyond your resume — of your past performance.

Eighty percent of companies today are using “behavioral” interviewing, which may be new to anyone who hasn’t been on a job interview recently.

Using this technique, interviewers ask potential employees open-ended questions designed to elicit specific examples of how you performed in the past.

Typically, employers identify a laundry list of specific qualities, skills and competencies that applicants must have to succeed in the open position. Examples might include displaying good judgment under stress, being a team player, demonstrating initiative and creativity or being able to resolve interpersonal conflict effectively.

The interviewer then asks questions to determine if the candidate can prove their proficiency with past work examples of the desired skills and qualities.

Job hunters who truly want to nail their interview opportunity need to anticipate these kinds of questions for the specific position they are seeking. The next step is to identify and prepare the best examples from your past to demonstrate success using these skills and competencies. Here are some examples of common behavioral-style interview questions:

  • Tell me about a workplace conflict or challenging issue with a co-worker and how you resolved it.
  • Give me a previous work example that demonstrates your initiative (or creativity).
  • Tell me a work story that sums up why we should hire you.
  • Describe the most difficult work situation you ever encountered and the process you used to resolve it.

Another interviewing trend is for prospective employers to ask candidates to imagine a difficult situation they believe the candidate will likely encounter in the new job. They pose the challenging scenario and then ask the candidate how they would respond. For example: “Imagine you have an irate customer on the phone yelling at you for an error, how would you handle it?” Some will even present scenarios and ask candidates to role play.

The “deer in the headlights” look to just about any question posed during a job interview typically won’t land you a good job. Preparation is key. Give some thought to how you will answer these kinds of questions in advance. Better yet, invest in yourself with a career coach to help you prepare.

Results and your ability to communicate your past achievements will positively impress prospective employers. Quantify your achievements when possible. Bringing samples of your work into an interview (portfolio, Web site links, strategic plan examples, etc.) can help you stand out as a doer and achiever. Many job hunters use memory discs as a “leave behind” with work samples.

Prospective employers are looking for those who can demonstrate they go the extra mile — like being fully prepared for a professional interview. Prepare well, do your research (on the company and the position) and leverage the available professional resources to help you secure what might be the most significant opportunity of your career.

Invest in yourself by hiring me as your coach! I help prospective job hunters land jobs all over the world via Skype.  Call me:  360 682 5807 or email: mmoriarty@pathtochange.com