Nailing Interviews Part 2: In the Interview

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Nailing Interviews Part 2: In the Interview

By: Kelsey Newsham | OLC Host
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It's 14:00 hours and our commander, Career Services Career Advisor, Brenda Badgero, is leading our troupe of students into the final stages of interview training. We've completed our interview preparation and are now ready for the real thing. Before heading out, our commander provides us with a few simple tips on what to expect and how to be successful in an interview.

First up, types of interview questions

Traditional

Traditional questions are broad-based questions in which success is based on the interviewee's ability to communicate well and touches on some of the core information an interviewer is looking to find out about the candidate.

Examples
"Tell me about yourself"
"What do you know about our company and why do you want to work here?"

The Response
The key to answering these questions is preparation. Researching the company and the type of work they do will help as you highlight the aspects of yourself that fit in with the company's overall goals and values.

Behavioural

These questions are based on the theory that past performance is the best indicator of future behaviour - in other words, employers are looking for examples in your past work that would give them an indication of what you would do in future, similar scenarios.

Examples
"Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem"
"Describe a time when you had a conflict with a coworker. What was the outcome?"

The Response
Recall situations that provide evidence of using a particular skill or behaviour.

Situation Skill
Coursework Research, analysis, teamwork
Volunteer Supervision, following instructions
Work experience Attention to detail, commitment, initiative, planning
Clubs, associations, etc Planning events, networking, professionalism
Athletics Leadership, teamwork, competitiveness

Consider using the STAR method to formulate your answers for behavioural questions;
S - Describe the situation
T  -What task had to be accomplished?
A -What action did you take?
-What were the results?

Probe

Probing questions are those that follow-up the original question. The employer is seeking clarification, digging for more information and checking for honesty in the answers.

Examples
"What did you mean by that?" "Can you give me an example?"

The Response
With questions that aim to dig deeper into your answer, remember to actually answer the question. Employers can become frustrated if, when asked, "why did you organize your group in that way?" the interviewee proceeds with a very articulated, detailed answer about the success of the project. If you're unsure after answering the question, don't hesitate to ask if you answered their question.

Tricky Sticky Questions

Last but not least, our commander taught us about those dreaded questions that can truly make you sweat. These questions are best answered honestly, diplomatically and with some background, pre-interview research in your belt.

Examples
"Why did you leave your last job?" "What are your salary expectations?"

The Response
When answering why you left your last job, or what you thought of your past supervisor/workplace, be as diplomatic as possible. Find the positives in your previous experience and when mentioning negative aspects of the position or employer, be sure to include the steps you took to positively deal with it. Salary questions are tough and every cadet wonders what to say, but with a bit of research into the salary range of the field you are applying for, this question will go from making you sweat to making you smile when it's asked. Remember to always give a range rather than specific number when answering.

With that, we cadets were off, to conquer any interview mission with a load of training under our belts from our trusty Career Advisor commander at Career Services. Good luck fellow interviewees!

Beyond the Article

Posted on October 28, 2012