Thursday, July 2, 2009

Preparing for a Job Interview (Part 1) - What Will I Be Asked?

You are preparing for a job interview. You invested in an excellent resume, and have purchased appropriate clothing to wear, but what about the interview itself? What will be asked? How should you respond? Following are seven key topical areas about which many organizations assess candidates.

Ability to learn. An organization may want to know who can adapt to changing conditions and will make the effort to continuously improve, learn new skills and upgrade their knowledge. They will try to assess this by use of work simulations, various kinds of tests, and interview questions targeting your approach to learning, and examples of how you exhibited it in the past.

Organizational fit. The most important compatibility issue is centered on the individual’s fit with a corporate culture. Watch for questions designed to determine fit, such as: “What are some of the more recent responsibilities you've taken on?” “Tell about a time when you were dissatisfied with the amount of time you needed to spend at work. Why?” “Tell about a time when you really liked the required pace for your job. Why?”

Numerical accomplishments. Objectives involving measures of quantity, quality or a combination of the two should be memorized and ready to produce. The more objective the measure was the more it will not be open to interpretation.

Level of Motivation. If someone is interested in their work, they usually come to work on time, appear motivated, and are energetic. A trained interviewer will be listening for use of such words as “motivated,” “prompted,” “took action,” or examples of when you took more responsibility. Candidates who did pre-work to learn about the company provide another indication of being motivated.

Knowledge. Do you have the skill and knowledge to perform well? Many organizations are using objective skill tests to determine knowledge level. These tests can take many forms, and the important thing is to expect them and not be surprised by their use. Also, watch for questions in the interview asking for examples of “complex assignments” or “projects you have handled.”

Problem-Solving. Almost every job requires some ability to analyze and solve problems. The most successful employees solve problems with minimal input from their supervisor. Watch for questions, such as: “What problems have you been required to solve?” “Have you ever recognized a problem before others in your organization did? What did you do?

Team player. The ability to function effectively within a work group is a key factor for many organizations in achieving success. Getting along with others is critical to them, and if you are perceived to not be a fit with the team, it could be a “showstopper.” Be alert to questions indicating whether you like working with others and answer appropriately.

The more you prepare for the interview, the better you will do. The better you do, the greater your chances of being hired.