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The purpose of an interview is to demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the position. It is also a way for you and your employer to get to know each other. Interview questions are designed to either showcase your past performance or to predict how you would react in a given situation at work. The objective is to try to paint a picture of you and your past experience to predict how well you would perform in the position as well as within the company.
Interviews work both ways! Aside from letting the employer know more about you, your personality, and whether you will be a good fit for the organization, it is also a chance for you to find out whether you would like this new environment and the people you're going to be working with.
Explore the tabs below to access useful tips on how to make the most out of your interview preparation.
During The Interview
1) FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT
Arrive at least 10 minutes early.
Have open and confident body language and steady eye contact.
Bring extra copies of your resume, cover letter, and reference list. Consider bringing a portfolio of relevant work samples from school projects, volunteering, and past jobs.
Think positively, act confidently, be genuine, and show your interest and enthusiasm for the position and the organization.
Be early, dress professionally, and know the location ahead of time.
2) Interview questions
Education and Personal Background
"Tell me about yourself" is perhaps the most commonly asked question in any interview. As students, you can start with your educational background, anything interesting about yourself, your hobbies, personal goals, etc. Next, you can slowly link them to why you wanted to work for the organization and how you would be a good fit for the company and the position itself. A good way to respond to this question is to come up with a 30-second "elevator pitch" and practice it by yourself and with your friends until you can feel confident and sound genuine to your audience. The "elevator pitch" approach is a way to make yourself memorable to potential employers in the time frame it takes for an elevator to reach its destination.
During an interview, other common questions that employers might ask include "Why do you want to work for us?" and "What do you know about our company?" Interviewers want to know that the candidate is genuinely interested in working for the company and is willing to show commitment to the position they are applying for.
Employers ask behavioral-based questions to assess your past behavior and predict your future reactions. These questions aim to determine how your previous experiences relate to the situation, the skills you displayed, and your personal style preferences. The questions often start with "Tell me about a time when..." and require you to give examples of your past experiences in various situations. To respond effectively, it is helpful to prepare and practice using the STAR (Situation, Task, Actions, Result) or CARE (Context, Actions, Results, Evaluation) approach, which involves describing the situation, task, actions taken, and the outcome. It is essential to frame the result positively and highlight any lessons learned or future improvements.
Situational-based questions are designed to assess your response in a certain environment. These questions usually start with "Tell me what you would do if..." and they are designed to gauge your reaction as well as test your logical thinking and reasoning. It is important to be able to back up your answers with an explanation of what you would do and why you chose to take that particular action.
You may also receive questions regarding how you will fit into their corporate environment such as "What kind of environments do you like?" or "What types of management styles do you prefer?" Refer to your research about the company and your own personal style for answers to these questions.
Employers will sometimes ask what your expected pay and salary would be like. It is recommended you give the average market range for the specific job that you are applying for.
The interview is not all about them! You want the position to be a good fit for you, in an organization aligned with your values where you can thrive and grow. This is your chance to gather information that can help you decide if you really want the job. Well-researched, tailored questions that demonstrate a genuine interest in the position are another way to impress your interviewers.
Concluding the Interview
Before you leave the interview, remember to shake the interviewer's hand (if it is in-person and is culturally acceptable practice for both you and the interviewer) and thank them for their time. You may politely ask the interviewer to indicate a time frame for when the final decision will be made. Send a brief thank you email or note before the hiring decision is made to thank the interviewers for their time and reiterate why you are a good fit for the position.
Employers ask many types of questions. The key to answering them well is to understand the question behind the question: what do they really want to hear from me? For sample questions and answer guidelines see the SFU Interview Questions Database