Career counselors say a good job interview starts well before the jobseeker and interviewer meet. Preparation can be as important as the interview itself. Researching and practicing are the first steps to making the most of a job interview.
ResearchOne of the best ways to demonstrate enthusiasm for a job is to research both the company and the position for which you are being interviewed. Employers say they are impressed by well-informed jobseekers.
Before arriving for an interview, you should know the following:
- what the company does
- how large it is
- any recent changes it has undergone
- what role you could play in its organization.
Try to learn about the company's goals and values. With these facts, you can show how your qualifications match the company's needs. The company’s website is usually the best place to begin. If you know others at the company, ask them about it.
Practice describing yourselfAnother important step in preparing for a job interview is to practice describing your professional characteristics in relation to the job you’re seeking. Think of examples from past jobs, schoolwork and activities to illustrate important skills that show you’re the right person for this job.
You should rehearse with a career counselor or friend to gain confidence and poise. As a starting point, practice responding to the following:
- How would you describe yourself?
- What did you like most about your last job?
- What types of courses do you enjoy most?
- Why should I select you over other applicants?
- What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- Tell me more about the project you described on your resume.
- Describe a work or school-related problem and how you solved it.
- Tell me about a time you worked as part of a team.
- What are your short-term goals?
- Why do you want to work in this occupation and for this company?
Emphasize the positive. The interviewer might ask for a weakness or a failure. Choose one that does not affect your ability to do the job or describe a shortcoming you are working to overcome.
Explain away the negative. If there are weaknesses evident on your resume or transcript, such as being fired from a job or receiving poor grades, rehearse an explanation before the interview in case you are asked about them. Focus on what you learned from the experience, being careful never to criticize a previous employer or coworker.