Preparing for Job Interviews
For the interview, as yourself...
Sample Interview Questions
The Interview Checklist
Dealing with Rejection
Preparing for Interviews
Job interviews can be a source of concern for students and graduates who haven't had much experience with them. Hopefully, what is written here will help to make them less so. Perhaps the most important key to a successful interview is to be well-prepared for it and to have some knowledge of what to expect. Armed with this information you should be able to approach your interview with confidence and hopefully, even pleasurable anticipation. Remember, the employers want you.
The interview itself is merely an exercise in two-way communication between the recruiter and you and each attempts to "sell" the other. The recruiter "sells" the job and his/her company while the student "sells" himself or herself as the person best suited to fill it. The first step is to read the job description carefully and understand the content. Your next step is to find out all you can about the company. Information may be available from the business pages in various newspapers, trade publications and company annual reports, as well as the College library.
As a bare minimum you should know what products the company produces or the services it provides and where it is located.
As mentioned previously, the job interview will require you to "sell" yourself. Your appearance, manner and attitude are of first importance. You must be on time for your interview since nothing creates a worse impression than being late.
As far as dress is concerned, be neatly and conservatively dressed. Your manner and attitude should reflect the type of person you are or would like to be. Recruiters are generally quite good at detecting the person who "puts on an act", so just be yourself! Come to the interview prepared to talk about yourself, your career objectives and your interests. Don't underestimate your hobby interests and extra curricular activities since recruiters are fully aware that what you like to do in your spare time says a lot about the type of person you are. If you have no such interests you should do something about cultivating them.
Above all, approach your interview with a reasonable degree of confidence and self-assurance. Convince yourself that you can do the job as well as the next person and probably better if you put your mind to it. Recruiters are invariably impressed with the student who displays real interest and enthusiasm.
Thank the interviewer for the opportunity and leave with a warm smile and handshake.
REMEMBER: Keep in mind posture, body language, and active listening.
For the interview, ask yourself…..
On Your Career
- What are your future career plans?
- Why did you choose your particular career?
- What qualifications do you have that make you feel you would be successful in your field?
- Do you prefer any specific geographic location? Why? Is this a good reason?
- What do you think determines a person's progress in a good company?
- What personal characteristics are necessary for success in your chosen field?
- Do you prefer working with others or by yourself?
- What kind of boss do you prefer?
- What do you know about opportunities in the field in which you are trained?
- What do you expect to be doing in five, ten or fifteen years?
- Do you prefer to work in a large or small city?
- Would you prefer to work for a large or a small company?
- What are the disadvantages of your chosen field?
On Your Education
- In what school activities have you participated? Why? Which ones did you enjoy the most?
- What courses did you like best? Least? Why?
- How did you spend your vacations while in high school?
- Do you feel you have received a good general training?
- Do you think that your extra-curricular activities were worth the time that you devoted to them? Why?
- Have you ever changed your major field of interest while studying? Why?
- Do you feel you have done the best scholastic work of which you are capable?
- How did you happen to go to college or vocational school?
- Have you ever had any difficulty getting along with fellow students and teacher?
- Which of your school years was the most difficult?
- Did you enjoy going to school?
- Do you consider your education valuable? Why?
On Former Employment
- What jobs have you held? How were they obtained, and why did you leave?
- What do you think of your previous employer?
- What have you learned from some of the jobs you have held?
- Can you get recommendations from previous employers?
- What jobs have you enjoyed the most? The least? Why?
- Have you ever trained anyone to do a job?
- Did you train your replacement?
On Your Application and the Company to Whom You Are Applying
- On Your Application and the Company to Whom You Are Applying
- Why do you think you might like to work for our company?
- What do you know about our company?
- What interests you about our product or service?
- What are your ideas on salary?
- What salary do you expect on this job?
- What did you make on your last job?
- Would you be willing to work for the minimum wage to start?
On Your Personal Life
- What types of books have you read?
- Do you enjoy sports as a participant? As an observer?
- What do you do to keep in good physical condition?
- Have you ever had any serious illness or injury?
- Are you primarily interested in making money or do you feel that service to humanity is a satisfactory accomplishment?
- Can you take instructions without feeling upset?
- Do you like routine work?
- Do you like regular hours?
- What is your major weakness?
- Define cooperation.
- Will you fight to get ahead?
- Do you demand attention?
- Have you an analytical mind?
- Are you eager to please?
- Is it an effort for you to be tolerant of persons with a background and interest different from your own?
- What are your own special abilities? Strengths?
- Do you like to travel?
- How about overtime work?
- What have you done which shows initiative and willingness to work?
- Define success.
Sample Interview Questions
Education & Career Plans
- Why did you choose to study __________ ?
- What is the objective of the OC __________ program?
- How are you enjoying the program? Why?
- Why did you get involved with the co-op program? What do you hope to get out of participating?
- What are your grades like? (If not good, why?)
- Which courses do you enjoy best? least? Why?
- Which area(s) of the __________ field interests you most? Why?
- What do you think it takes to succeed in the __________ field?
- You're in school now, but what do you expect to be doing in five years? ten years?
Experience & Skills
- Which past jobs have you enjoyed the most? the least? Why?
- Under what circumstances did you leave your last job?
- Describe your working relationship with your last supervisor.
- Are you currently working part-time? (If yes,) do you plan to quit to take a co-op position?
- What experience related to this position have you had?
- (If no related experience,) how specifically will your past experience be valuable in the __________ field?
- (For non-CIS students) How computer literate are you? What kinds of computer equipment and software have you used?
- You are being interviewed by several employers this week. Why would you like to work for our organization?
- We are looking for a student who will want to come back here for their second and maybe third work terms, and possibly a permanent position after graduation. How does this suit your plans?
- We are participating in the co-op program because __________ is our busy period. We do not foresee an opportunity for future permanent employment. How does this suit your plans?
- This job requires someone with a concern for for detail (for example). Do you qualify? Give an example from past experience.
- This job requires someone with above-average interpersonal communication skills (for example). Do you qualify? Give an example from past experience.
- What salary are you expecting during your first work term? Why?
- How would you summarize your overall knowledge and skills in the __________ field? (Mention strengths and areas of special interest.)
They will likely ask some technical questions to test your professed level of expertise; sometimes there will be a written test. You may also be asked to construct a brief business letter or memo to demonstrate your business writing skills. Where appropriate you may be asked to provide a portfolio or demonstrate specific skills pertaining to the job.
- What are your strengths? weaknesses? How do you know? Can you give an example of each? (relate to work environment)
- Which three adjectives best describe you? (e.g., reliable, kind, etc.)
- Can you give an example of how you have shown initiative in a past job or volunteer experience?
- What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Why?
- Do you prefer working on your own or in a team? Why?
- What are some of your leisure interests?
- Do you have a car or some other reliable form of transportation?
- Are you willing to relocate for co-op/permanent employment?
At the end of the interview, you will usually be given an opportunity to ask questions. Ask about the work itself and the people you will be working with. Do not ask about salary, benefits or working conditions (perks!) until you are offered the position.
The Interview Checklist
The goal of a selection interview is to predict the on-the-job performance of each applicant in order to select the best person for the available position. A handful of "on-paper" qualified candidates are interviewed to clarify their skills and experience and to assist their personal suitability to the position.
An interview should be viewed as an opportunity to show an employer what you have to offer, rather than as a nerve-racking ordeal.
Use this list to help with pre-interview planning.
- Know where the office is and how you are going to get there on time; getting lost will only add to your anxiety level.
- Take time to choose appropriate attire (preferably the day before) and groom carefully -- appearances are important!
- Learn about the organization; the employer will want to know why you want to work there and how you think you can contribute to the organization's overall goals.
- Identify the relevant skills and experience you can bring to the job.
- Prepare two or three questions to ask the interviewer; avoid asking about benefits until you have been offered the job.
Demonstrate Good Manners
- Arrive 5 to 10 minutes before your appointment time.
- Shake hands firmly with the interviewer when you are introduced and again when the interview concludes.
- Do not smoke, chew gum or drink tea or coffee -- even if you are invited to do so.
- Maintain eye contact with the interviewer; otherwise, you will give the impression that you are disinterested or untrustworthy.
- Try not to fidget; it will distract the interviewer from what you are saying.
- Allow the interviewer to take the lead; do not interrupt when she/he is talking.
- Answer questions clearly and concisely; do not ramble.
- Pause to construct a thoughtful answer; do not blurt out the first thing that comes into your mind.
- Attend to the interviewer's body language and other cues to sense when the interview is concluding; do not linger.
- Thank the interviewer for her/his time before leaving.
- Convey your strengths and abilities without appearing boastful or conceited; do not exaggerate your qualifications.
- Answer the questions honestly, rather than telling the interviewer what you think she/he wants to hear; you do not want to succeed in getting hired for a job for which you are not suited!
- Do not hesitate to show your (genuine) enthusiasm and engaging personality and... remember to smile.
- Volunteer information only if it is positive and pertinent.
- Watch for opportunities to sell your skills.
- Avoid using negative terms. Substitute the words "challenge" or "opportunity" for the word problem.
- Never forget that your objective is to get a job offer.
Dealing with Rejection
You're not alone. Everyone who is now successfully employed has, at one time or another, either lost a job or has been turned down for one.
There are at least two ways to deal with rejection - either mope around complaining about your bad luck or to take charge of your life by adopting a positive attitude while realizing that feelings of stress and anxiety are normal, expected and need not be long lasting.
Employment Programs – Check out this section for information on Government Employment Programs.
Writing Your Resume – Your resume is the most effective way to sell yourself. It eshould outline your skills and experience so an employer will realize what you will be able to contribute to their company.
Job Hunting Tips: -Those who find jobs are successful because they know how to conduct an effective job search.
Preparing For Job Interviews – Perhaps the most important key to a successful interview is to be well prepared for it and to have some knowledge of what to expect.
Success on the Job – You may be facing your work experience with a combination of excitement and trepidation. We hope these suggestions will help you handle any situations that arise during your employment.
Online Employment Resources – Here you’ll find a list of links in the following categories: Careers, Labour Market Info, Resume Help, Starting Your Own Business, Volunteering and Job Search Resources.