First, assess what YOU bring to the table. What knowledge and expertise do you possess? What environments do you shine in and what environments shut you down? Do you need to have a lot of supervision or do you tend to thrive when given free reign to get the job done? Do you enjoy working with colleagues on a team or are you better suited to working alone?
Next you need to assess what your passion is. Do you like the more analytical side of things or do you tend to enjoy the more creative aspects of a job. If you are already in a position but are going after another one, ask yourself what aspects of the job you presently have do you like and which ones do you not like? You want to move toward a position that will give you more of what you like so your passion can really come through. If you’re just about to graduate ask yourself what did you like about some of the summer jobs you had and what did you not like? Again try to go after positions that will give you more of what you enjoyed.
Next sit down and do some research on the culture of the companies that you wish to apply to. Make sure their values and yours are a fit. You are going to be spending a lot of time in your job and in order for you to do well and really show your talents it needs to be about more than just the money and the benefits.
Once you have done due diligence with your research it’s time to prepare for the interview itself. It’s impossible to think of every question they will ask you. You could worry yourself sick trying to figure them all out. Or, you could focus on the most important questions they really want the answers to.
Every company wants to know four things:
1. Do you have the skills, expertise and experience to handle the job?
2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
3. Why do you think you are a fit for the position and the company?
4. Why should they hire you over one of the other candidates?
Let’s take a closer look at each of these questions.
Preparing for question number one will really take you a long way in the interview process. Think about all the skills and expertise that actually apply to the position you are going after. Then add all the skills sets that would be great to possess in most every job such as being a team player or having excellent communication skills, being a creative thinker. Find the qualifications that best describe you as a whole and in the position you are interviewing for.
Once you are really clear on how the skill sets and expertise that you possess coincide with what is required in the position and within the company culture you can bring almost all other questions back to this and keep the interview on focus.
Question number two is very similar to question number one in that you are reiterating your skills, expertise and experiences but bringing to light for the interviewer any area of weakness that may not be great for the job or culture. Now I ask you, who in their right mind would give a litany of weaknesses when applying for a job? This has always seemed a crazy question to me but this is usually one of the questions that will be asked.
If you do in fact have a weakness that would apply then make sure you can back it up with an even greater skill set. An example for me might be: “I need to thoroughly understand something before I can really jump into it. Having said that, I grasp things very quickly and once I know it, I can teach it to anyone and in many instances make it easier, faster and cheaper to do.” So if you really do have a weakness make sure you follow it up with an even more powerful strength, so that the strength outweighs the weakness. Again make sure both the strength and the weakness pertain to the job you are applying for.
Question number three really speaks to your knowledge of the company, their culture and how your personality and style will fit in. Before you ever applied for the job you should have done your research on both the kind of position you are looking for and the kind of company that would be a good fit for you and vice versa. If you did not do this, then before you interview make sure you go to the website and thoroughly familiarize yourself with everything you can. If it is important enough to the company to put it on their website, it is important enough for you to know before the interview.
The company is as interested in finding the candidate with the right fit as you are. They don’t want to have any problems with a new hire and certainly do not want to go through the process of hiring and retraining any sooner than they have to. It is a costly endeavor for them. Before you get to the interview really think about how the company puts its message out to the world. If you familiarize yourself fully with the company, its culture and the way they show up in the market place, as well as your style, personality and how you put yourself out into the market, you will be able to explain why the fit is so good.
Question number four really has an easier answer than you might think. You really cannot speak to another candidate’s knowledge or expertise so this question really goes back to question three. You can’t speak to what you do not know. You have no idea who the other candidates are or their knowledge, expertise or passion but you most certainly can speak to yours. Make sure you reiterate this and once again let the interviewer not only know what you bring to the table but also how you see your fit within the company.
Do not be afraid to turn the tables on the interviewer. Ask relevant questions of them as well. Just as they do not want to go through this process again soon, neither do you. You want to know that you are going with a company that will provide you the support you need, that will make the best use of the knowledge and skill sets you bring to the table and help you acquire new ones as well. You want a company you can shine in so that your passion comes through. Believe it or not, the company wants the same thing.
Finally, dress for the job you are going after. If you do not know the dress code of the company, call and ask. Arm yourself with a firm, not crushing, handshake and great eye contact. If you can accomplish all this in the interview process, you will go a long way to getting the job of your dreams, providing your new employer with the best candidate for the job—YOU—and allowing your passion to come through. That’s called a WIN/WIN!
Debbie Darling, ©2014 The Presentation Pros
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