Preparing for an Interview


A recent question...

I have an interview coming up for a role I have been after for a while. The new role will be my first promotion if I am successful. I am wondering if you have any advice for me to prepare for the interview?

Thanks for your question! There are a number of things you can do to improve your chances of a great interview.

Discussing the role with someone who already has it

If you have an opportunity, ask if you can job shadow in the new role for a day. Offer to do this on your day off (if possible) or offer a vacation day so you are not taking away from your current role. You then have a chance to observe the role and ask some questions about the most important responsibilities of the role you are applying for. You can share these observations in the interview and let the interviewer know how you are preparing (or will prepare) to ensure you take the most important responsibilities seriously. While you are job shadowing, you may gain some insights about the kinds of questions you can expect to hear in the interview from someone who has already successfully passed the interview process.

Role play with your Mentor

I discuss the importance of having a great Mentor in the book. Here is an opportunity to create a practice interview with your Mentor. Come as prepared as you would in the real interview and be prepared for some challenging questions. There are some great articles online with examples of the kinds of interview questions you may hear . Write them down, practice your answers and then practice again and again. Your Mentor can give you some honest feedback about where you succeeded and where you need to continue to work on your answers. The more you practice these challenging interview questions the more relaxed you will be in the interview. An interview question that often comes up is “what would you consider to be your weakness” or something along those lines. Interviewers are looking for an honest answer along with some things you have done to overcome this weakness. Practice answering this question honestly with your Mentor to develop a well thought out response (e.g. I have had a challenge with my public speaking in the past and have been taking some Toastmasters courses in order to help me improve my technique“).

Be confident (but not overly)

Chances are if you’ve been granted the interview opportunity then you have some (if not all) of the skills and requirements for the job. You have worked hard to maintain your work ethic and deliver great results right? Then make sure you point out your successes. Let your interviewer know you will continue to maintain your professionalism, work ethic and will deliver the results that are expected in this role. The interview is a chance for you to demonstrate why you are the best candidate. Make sure you point out examples of why you are the right candidate and add that you are also excited to learn all about the new role from your potential new boss.

Write down examples of your accomplishments

You’ll want to share some of the great things you’ve done inside and outside of work that differentiate yourself from others. Helped out your boss with an extra assignment? Went above and beyond with a project? Made an impact on your team or your department? Volunteering your time to help others? Write these down and practice tying these into those challenging interview questions.

e.g. “I believe I am the right candidate for this position because of my impact and work ethic. My boss recently asked for volunteers for an extra assignment. I happily took on the challenge and delivered the results on time. The impact was an improved efficiency with some of the processes in my department”

Learn the ins and outs of a great interview

There is an endless supply of interview tips so I’ll just cover a few here.

  1. Dress professionally and groom accordingly (buy a new outfit if you can or try a fine thrift store), your confidence will shine through)
  2. Be extra early (nothing starts off an interview worse than showing up late)
  3. Bring a fresh copy of your resume (have someone proof read it for grammar and spelling and always be honest on your resume)
  4. Be prepared to take notes (ask permission beforehand but the interviewer will likely say yes and be impressed)
  5. Limit the length of your answers (people tend to give long answers when nervous) but be accurate and use real examples (see write down examples of your accomplishments above)
  6. More than one interviewer? take the time to look each of them in the eyes regularly throughout the interview
  7. Have a question or two ready for the end of the interview (One of these questions should be “what are you looking for in the successful candidate?”
  8. Write down the answers to the above question(s)
  9. Give a confident handshake and thank the interviewer(s) for their time
  10. Write a thank you letter (handwritten is better than an email) to the interviewer(s) thanking them again for their time and listing why you meet their requirements of the role as listed in #7 above

I do hope this helps you improve your chances of a great interview Kim.

Best of luck – you’ll do great!

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