Maximizing Your Job Interview Skills

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in this article we will discuss the things needed to pass the job interview.

What is a Behavior Based Interview?
♦ A structured interviewing style based on questions designed to probe past behavior in specific situations.
♦ Focuses on experience, behaviors, knowledge, skills and abilities related to the position.
♦ Used to get an idea of how an individual will manage duties based on their past behavior Note: Past behavior is the best predictor of future performance.

Behavioral Interview

Behavioral questions are more probing and more specific than traditional interview questions.
Behavioral: “Tell me about your greatest achievement?
Behavioral: “What did you do when…?”

Traditional Interview

Traditional interview questions are more hypothetical rather than focusing on past events.
Traditional: “Tell me about yourself?”
Traditional: “What would you do if…?”

Examples of Behavioral Questions
If the job posting states the company is looking for a “team player”, possible interview questions could include:
♦ Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to a co-worker’s working style in order to successfully complete a project.
♦ Describe a situation when working with others produced better results than if you had completed the project on
your own.
♦ Can you share with me a time when demonstrated your ability to work as an effective team member?

Interview Workshop – Activity
Please get into three groups; each group will receive a flip chart paper and marker.
Group One: Pre-interview
What to do before the interview; up to the time you reach the front door.
♦Group Two: Interview
What to do during the interview; from the moment you walk into the building to the end of the actual interview.
Group Three: Post-interview
What to do after the interview; from the moment you walk out of the interview room and onwards.

Pre-interview Preparation
♦ Documents.
♦ Professional Attire.
♦ Prepare Route.
♦ Prepare answers to possible questions.

♦ Copy of resume for each interviewer +1.
♦ Pen & paper.
♦ Interview Agenda – your questions – remember it’s a two way street to see if you fit into their organization AND if you feel comfortable there).
♦ Copy of job posting.
♦ References.
♦ Portfolio (optional depending on career).

Professional Attire
A day or two before the interview:
♦ Try on your intended outfit (fit).
♦ Check for stains, rips, missing button, creases, etc.
♦ Coordinate accessories (tie, belt, socks, shoes, jewelry, etc. )
♦ Set aside in a “safe” spot.
♦ Dress one step above.

Prepare Your Route
♦ Confirm address, including suite number, and interviewer’s name(s).
♦ Print a map of the route / write directions.
♦Trial run (before day of interview).
♦ Check for construction signs.
♦ Locate available parking lot options.
♦ Set aside change/credit card (if needed).

Prepare Your Answers
♦ Use recent examples where you excelled.
♦ Identify your skills throughout your response.
♦ Use industry terms (acronyms or industry slang).
♦ Avoid casual language.
♦ Be objective, not subjective…just the facts.
♦ Include amounts, dollars, time frames, percentages, numbers, etc.
♦ Length: 1-3 minutes.
♦ Practice, practice, practice!

Ten Common Questions to Expect
♦ Tell me about yourself.
♦ What is your greatest achievement?
♦ Tell me about a time you save time or money.
♦ What is your greatest strength?
♦ Can you me about your computer skills?
♦ Tell me about a time where you had to handle a challenging co-worker or customer.
♦ Can you describe a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty?
♦ What do you believe is your professional weakness?
♦ Where do you see yourself in five years?
♦ Why do you want to work for this company?

Use the STAR technique
♦ Describe the Situation.
♦ Discuss the Task that needed to be accomplished.
♦ What Actions did you take to perform your task.
♦ What were the Results of your actions.

Preparation Tips
♦ Be prepared to discuss negative experiences (choosing those that turned out well or you made the best of the
situation and what you learned from it).
♦ There are no right or wrong answers – just give enough details to allow the interviewer to accurately assess your
past accomplishments.
♦ Keep a record of your achievements, use them to come up with great STAR examples for the next time you go
for an interview.

Five Stages of an Interview
1. Opening – rapport building.
2. Questions about your experience and skills.
3. Exploring professional style (fit).
4. Interviewee questions.
5. Closing – final message.

Tips for Your Arrival
♦ Be “on” before entering the building.
♦ Arrive 15 minutes before appointment.
♦ Pleasantly greet receptionist and identify yourself.
♦ While waiting, review your answers.
♦ Avoid fidgeting, chewing gum, talking on cell phone or texting.

First Impressions
♦ Studies show that an interviewer forms judgments within four minutes of meeting you.
♦ Much of the impact you create in an interview is based on your visual and nonverbal presentation.

Your First Impression
♦ Greet the interviewer with a comfortably firm handshake, eager smile and direct eye contact.
♦ Allow interviewer to indicate where to sit.
♦ Have documents in order, and offer copy of resume to each interviewer.
♦ Assume a receptive posture.
♦ Breathe and try to relax…remember: you are prepared!

What You Say and How You Say It

♦ Preparing your answers is a great start!
♦ Being aware of how you are presenting your answers is also important.
♦ Verbal and non-verbal (body language) communication is important too.

Non-verbal Communication
Non-verbal communication is composed of appearance, posture and body language.
♦ Personal hygiene and clothing Posture:
♦ Attentive listening position.
♦ Avoid slouching or sitting on edge.
♦ Make comfortable (slight) adjustments.
♦ Avoid crossing your legs.
♦ Allow for a personal space of about 36 inches.

interview body languageBody Language
♦ Your words will explain your background, but at the same time, your body language will give out a lot more information
♦ Becoming more aware of your own body language can increase your chances of getting the job.
♦ Reading the interviewer’s body language can be a useful tool to gauge your presentation

Body language includes:
♦ Hands.
♦ Handshake.
♦ Eye contact.
♦ Facial signals and head movements.

Your Hands
♦ Hand movements can liven up an interview, but should be used in moderation, and below eye level.
♦ Avoid crossing your arms.
♦ Avoid unconscious hand movements (biting nails, picking at nails, adjusting tie, wringing hands, rubbing the back of your neck, hands in pockets, clicking a pen, etc.).

The Handshake
♦ Comfortably firm; 2 – 3 shakes.
♦ Use only 1 hand and put it all the way into the interviewer’s hand, with palm up.
♦ Be aware of possible perspiration.
♦ If you don’t feel comfortable shaking hands for cultural/religious reasons, you can ‘gesture’ a greeting.

Your Eyes
Eye contact is essential and an excellent way of conveying your interest in the job.
♦ By looking directly at the interviewer you are giving them a sign of trust.
♦ Allow for eye movement to avoid staring.
♦ Avoid looking away, down, or over your glasses when answering questions.
♦ Panel interview: focus on the person who posed the questions, and ‘sweep’ the others.

Your Facial Signals
♦ Present a warm and natural smile.
♦ Nod your head slowly in agreeance.
♦ Avoid head bobbing.
♦ Avoid biting / licking your lips.
♦ Be aware if you are rubbing your nose.
♦ Be aware of subconscious facial expressions.

Interviewer’s Body Language
♦ Watch the amount of hand gestures the interviewer uses to gauge your usage.
♦ This can serve as warning sign of displeasure (shaking their head, sighing, crossing their arms, etc.).

Understanding the Interviewer
An interviewer must make hiring decisions. To do this THREE basic issues must be covered in the questions they
1. Can you actually do the job? Is your experience, training, education, aptitude and interest sufficient so you would be productive for me?
2. Who are you? What are you like? What characteristics and traits do you possess?
3. Will you fit in with the others in my company/organization? Will you be part of a problem or part of a solution?

Handling Illegal Questions
♦ If you are asked an illegal question it is important not only to know your rights, but also to be able to respond to the question directly and with confidence.
♦ If this is an employer you want to work for, indicate a willingness to demonstrate your suitability for the job
without compromising your rights.
♦ Respond with a counter question:
♦ “Could you tell me how my (age, marital status, place of birth, etc.) might have any bearing on the job I am applying for?”
♦ “That’s a very interesting question. I’d be happy to answer it if you could tell me the reason for asking it?”

Closing the Interview
♦ Provide a copy of your References.
♦ Confirm the follow-up time frame and phone number.
♦ Restate your interest in the position and why you feel you are the ideal candidate.
♦ Thank the interviewer(s) for their time.
♦ Shake the interviewer’s hand.
♦ Remember to SMILE!

1. Effective Interviewing Skills – Newcomer Women’s Services, Toronto.
2. How to pass in an Interview.