How to prepare for an interview : Prepping for the interview is important, regardless of how many interviews you have had. Well-prepped candidates are more confident and provide more thorough answers. If you know how to give complete answers, you worry less and are able to ask better questions. Thoughtful preparation improves the odds that you will be assessed fairly, especially if the focus of the interview is on detailed discussions about your major accomplishments.
Following are some key points you should consider when prepping for the interview :
Step 1: Make sure you can articulate your strengths and weaknesses:-
Write down what you see as your four or five key strengths. For each strength, support it with an example of an accomplishment. Be able to tell a story that illustrates this strength.
Now write down two areas of weakness that you see in yourself. With the weaknesses, explain how you are trying to overcome that weakness or write up a specific situation where you’ve turned that weakness into a strength.
Step 2: Learn the “Universal Answer”:-
Most answers during the interview should be about one to two minutes long. If you talk for more than three minutes, the interviewer may lose interest. You may be ranked as boring, long-winded, or too self-centred. If you talk for less than a minute, you may be too superficial or vague. Practice your answers using the “Say a Few Words” acronym (SAFW):
S: make an opening Statement
A: Amplify that statement
F: provide a Few examples
W: Wrap it up
Providing an example is the most important part of the exercise. This is demonstrated proof behind the opening statement. Interviewers will use these examples to form their judgments about your competence. Most candidates talk in generalities. Specific examples are much more convincing. For instance, a marketing manager could give a specific example to describe how she launched a new product rather than saying she’s strong in advertising and new product promotions.
Step 3: Prepare write-ups for your two most significant accomplishments:-
Write down a paragraph or two that includes some details about your major accomplishments. For each job you’ve held, you should be able to talk about what you accomplished – be it big or small. Most candidates get a little nervous in the opening stages of an interview, which can result in temporary forgetfulness. The pre-thinking and write-ups/notes will allow for better recall of this important information should this happen to you.
Step 4: Come to the interview with prepared questions and evidence you have researched the company:-
Discussions about major accomplishments should dominate the interview session. Since most interviewers don’t ask about these naturally, you can get them started. To do this, ask this question early if you feel the interview is going nowhere, “I want to check my understanding of your ob needs. Although the recruiter from reviewed this with me, would you please give me an overview of what the job entails and describe some of the key challenges in the job in your own words? Then I can give you some examples of work that I’ve done that are comparable.”
Research the company on the internet by using Google or Yahoo. Hoovers ( www.hoovers.com ) offers company information with detailed business reports and industry profiles. Weave the information you gain from your research into the interview to demonstrate your interest level and thoughtful preparation.
Step 5: Ask for the job if you want the job.
At the end of the interview, tell the interviewer that you are interested in the job, and would like to know what the next steps are. If the next steps seem evasive or unclear, ask the interviewer if your accomplishments seem relevant to the performance requirements of the job. Understanding a potential gap here allows you to fill in with an example of a related accomplishment. Make sure you do the best job possible of presenting your strengths. Sometimes you have to ask for the job to understand what points you need to emphasize with the interviewer.
What makes a good interviewee?
♦ Someone who is receptive to the needs of the interviewer – that is, they provide relevant answers and examples for the questions that are asked.
♦ Someone who has given a resume which helps the interviewer conduct the interview – it is chronological and information relevant to the position is obvious.
♦ Someone who is well presented.
♦ Someone who is well prepared.
♦ Someone who is positive and enthusiastic.
♦ Someone who is relaxed
Put yourself into the interviewer’s shoes
♦ Professional recruitment people in companies interview up to 12 people a day, every day.
♦ May review up to 100 resumes per day.
♦ Need you to make it as easy and painless for them as possible.
What will you encounter when you go to interview ?
♦ Incredibly varying processes, practices, procedures ranging from
- Unstructured chats
- Highly professional behavioural interview
- Assessment centres
- Interviewers who are highly confident, and some who are highly nervous.
♦ You need to be flexible and well prepared enough to react well in all settings.
Preparation – the resume
Find out everything you can about the job and put examples of relevant achievements in your resume – it must be tailored. This will help you get the interview, but will also help you in the interview.
When you get the call
♦ Thank them for the opportunity and express your interest.
♦ Ask if there is anything they want you to prepare or bring.
♦ Ask them who you will be meeting.
♦ Take the opportunity to leave a positive impression.
Preparation – what can you do to give yourself the best chance?
♦ Research the company – ownership, structure, turnover and profitability, competitors, market position, future plans for development, size, history, products, competitors, etc.
- Web sites
- Annual reports
- Media Releases
♦ Have clear, well-reasoned reasons as to why you want this job.
♦ Carefully read the advertisement and position description (if you have one) and highlight the key requirements.
♦ Identify things you have done which relate to the skills required by the job.
♦ Rehearse explaining those achievements – get someone to listen to you.
♦ Prepare two or three good questions to ask.
♦ Prepare your answers to common interview questions including your strengths, weaknesses, career goals, ideal working environment, etc. The internet offers a range of resources to help you with general interview questions and questions around your particular field or job role.
♦ People who have done this perform far better in interview.
How to present yourself?
♦ What to wear?
- Tailor it to the situation, but if you are not sure, more formal is the best bet.
♦ The 60/20/20 rule – you make 60% of your impression in the first few minutes of the interview and 20% in the last 10 minutes. This means that around 80% of the impression you leave is created in a 15-minute window. Make this time count!
♦ Maintain good eye contact. If there is more than one person at the interview, talk to both or all of them.
♦ Body language – Stay attentive during the job interview. You might demonstrate this by sitting upright and leaning slightly forward in your chair.
♦ Be punctual.
Golden rules for interviews
♦ Be positive – everything can be expressed as a positive.
♦ Listen – the best interviewees are often the best listeners. If you are not sure you have understood the question ask for clarification.
♦ Express enthusiasm, attentiveness and keenness.
♦ Finish well. Thank them for the opportunity and repeat that you are keen to do the job.
Who gets the job?
♦ There will be more than one person with the necessary skills.
♦ Who is best prepared?
♦ Who wants our job, not just a job?
♦ Who will we most enjoy working with?
- Well presented
♦ Not seeming interested or keen.
♦ Not answering questions.
♦ Wasting the interviewer’s time.
♦ Presenting yourself inappropriately.
♦ Not having researched the opportunity.
♦ Bringing gifts for the interviewers.
Examples of Interview Questions
- Tell us about your work experience and how it makes you the best candidate for this position.
- Describe for us your Leadership style.
- Give us an example of a time when you had to go above and beyond your expected level of performance.
- Tell us about a situation where you and someone in authority disagreed on an issue. How did you handled it and what was the outcome?
- Share with us your computer skills and knowledge of various IRS systems and applications.
- What experience do you have in researching information and reference material to resolve complex tax law questions?
- This position can be quite stressful at times, what do you do when faced with stressful work situations and how well do you handle it?
- You are working with a taxpayer to resolve their account issues and the taxpayer becomes irate, tell us how you would handle this situation if it were during a telephone conversation, and then if it was during a face to face interview.
- What experience do you have in dealing with collections and enforcement activities?
- Describe for us your ability to communicate orally and in writing.
- Communication skills are a must for this position, how would you rate your communication skills and why?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Tell us about a time you thought you knew how to handle a situation, yet chose to solicit opinions from others.
- What characteristics do think are important for this position?
- You know that one of your counterparts is falsifying her/his reports in order for their team to exceed all other teams’ performance, how would you handle this?
- What have you done in previous positions to motivate others?
- You have several deadlines to meet and one seems to be equally as important as the other, tell us how you would handle this to ensure all deadlines were met.
- What did you do to prepare for this interview?
- Is there anything you would like to add?
- Are there any questions you would like to ask?
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