Saturday, August 25, 2012

New to the Interview Scene? Here's What to Expect.

By Mary Salvino

Interviews can be intimidating; however, your 'fear factor' can be mitigated if you know what to expect. If you have never been interviewed for a job, or it has been a very long time since you had the experience, the following information may be of value to you.

The first thing that you need to know is that the questions that will be
asked of you will be fall into one of two categories:

a] Direct - What skills do you have that relate to this position?" Your
information should be clear and specific. These types of questions, whether
they relate to technical or soft skills, should be easy to answer if you
have completed the research on yourself

b] Indirect - Non-direct questions are general and do not ask for specific
information. e.g. "Tell us a bit about yourself". You determine the focus of
your answer.
HINT #1: In response to this particular question, you should briefly
summarize approximately four areas: education, experience, skills, and
personal attributes.
HINT #2: Strive to ensure that your responses are relevant and related
to the job you are seeking.

The second thing that you need to know is that interviews are opportunities
to both give and get information. The interviewer will want to know all
about your skill set and ‘what you bring to the table’. During the interview
process, you, as the interviewee, will be given the opportunity to have an
extremely narrow peek into the company’s organization. Do not take this
opportunity lightly! Pay attention when you are presented with this unique
HINT #1: The best indicators of how new employees will be treated at
the new company can be assessed by how they treat the front-line employees.
HINT#2: If the front line employees are unhappy or looking stressed
out, there is a reason for it and the issue is not being addressed. It is at
this point that you should list the pros and cons for accepting the
position, if it is indeed offered.

The third key element of the interview that requires your attention is the
ability to answer questions thoroughly and concisely. The types of questions
that you will be required to answer will fall into one of 2 categories:

a] Behavioural - Hypothetical Questions or Situation Questions - When
answering these types of questions you should talk through your personal
involvement in a specific situation rather than hypothetical examples. When
answering these types of questions you should get into the habit of using
the STAR:
Situation – Describe the situation and explain what happened
Task – Outline the task you had to complete and describe your
Action – Explain the steps that you took or the decisions you made
Result – Explain the outcomes of your actions as well as what you learned
from the experience
N.B. Behavioural interview questions are designed to provide the interviewer
with an understanding of your past behaviours on the belief that how you
have acted in the past is the best predictor of how you will act in the

b]Technical / knowledge based - It is very difficult to prepare for these types of questions. Either you know the answer, or you don’t. If you don’t. know the answer, say so. “Tis better to remain silent and have others believe you to be a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

The last thing you should know, is that most interview sessions will end with the opportunity for you to ask questions of the interviewer. It is best that you do not overwhelm the interviewer with tons of questions. This is an area where quality counts. Never ask any question that can be easily answered by doing basic research on the company or industry. If, however, there are changes in the offing that may affect the industry or the company, it may be a good idea to ask about them. It is also a good idea to ask a question with regard to decision making time-lines. N.B. Don't forget to ask for the interviewer’s business card. You will need the information on it for all of your follow-up correspondence.

Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career that is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. This blog is also dedicated to those who stand a little taller each time they picked themselves up after failing and those who gained the wisdom and humility from those experiences to help others do the same. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at