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Interviewing: Nuts and Bolts Tip #1

Don't wait to be called for an interview - start now!
Mary Sherwood Sevinsky

Practice Common Interview Questions

Good planning and preparation can take some of the angst out of interviewing. Take your time in the days before an interview to make sure you have all your bases covered.

This is it! An interview heralds the end of job search and is really the culmination of all of your hard work. Your reward a job!

Hopefully you are preparing for your interview while job searching and not waiting for an interview date and time. Likewise, you may have already reviewed Interview Soft Skills – things you need to be aware of or practice that are not so often discussed.

This series will address the “nuts and bolts” of interviewing – more commonly discussed things you need to do or be aware of while preparing to interview.

While job searching and long before even being called for an interview, you should begin practicing common interview questions. This will ensure that you are prepared with the answers to COMMON questions and closer to the actual interview, you can focus on COMPANY SPECIFIC interview questions.

Before we go further, it is important that you understand that it is imperative that you write down your answers to any interview questions. This way you can edit your answers and improve on them as you practice! Often, my clients will try to skip this step and I can always tell – they make the same mistakes in session two as session one.

Also, try to keep the STAR method of answering questions in mind as you write out your answers. STAR stands for:

Situation – set the context for your story. For example, "We were due to be delivering a presentation to a group of 30 interested industry players on our new product and Stuart, the guy due to deliver it, got stuck on a train from Birmingham."

Task – what was required of you. For example, "It was my responsibility to find an alternative so it didn't reflect badly on the company and we didn't waste the opportunity."

Activity – what you actually did. For example, "I spoke to the event organizers to find out if they could change the running order. They agreed so we bought ourselves some time. I contacted Susan, another member of the team, who at a push could step in. She agreed to drop what she was doing and head to the event."

Result – how well the situation played out. For example, "Stuart didn't make the meeting on time but we explained the problem to the delegates and Susan's presentation went well – a bit rough around the edges but it was warmly received. Stuart managed to get there for the last 15 minutes to answer questions. As a result we gained some good contacts, at least two of which we converted into paying clients."

Common Interview Questions

There are questions you probably have heard many employers nearly always ask:

Tell me about yourself.

What are your strengths?

What are your weaknesses?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

While they are common and you may think you know the answers or can “swing it.” You can’t. Practice answering common interview questions regularly. In writing, out loud by yourself, and with someone else. Before a real interview dress for the interview and practice in person with someone else. The extra effort will pay off in extra confidence!

Here are some common interview questions that provide you with a good well-rounded idea of what most commonly an employer will ask.

10 Interview Questions Decoded by Careerbuilder

The Best Interview Prep Tool Ever by Careerealism

When answering interview questions (even in practice) always:

1. Answer the questions anticipating what the employer wants to know.

2. Be Positive – don’t even use a negative word

3. Don’t ramble – be concise and on point.

4. Smile to put the interviewer at ease and to make you seem pleasant.

5. Breathe. Focus on your breathing to avoid saying um, sighing, and to ensure your brain has a good supply of oxygen.

6. Don’t doodle, fidget, or sit back in your chair in a slump.

So to summarize, start your practice well ahead of obtaining an interview. Keep the Star method to answering interview questions in mind. Write and edit your answers, practice out loud, practice with someone and practice dressed for an interview. By all means, practice regularly – you will only get better with time.

Mary Sherwood Sevinsky

Mary is a CAREER AND OCCUPATIONAL CONSULTANT who is masters-prepared and certified. She is a business owner with nearly 20 years of experience in Corporate Management, Career Assessment & Counseling and in writing Career Articles and Educational Materials.

She has worked as a CORPORATE MANAGER experienced in hiring, firing and managing a staff of professionals with a multimillion dollar budget. She enjoys WRITING AND EDITING and has spent many years developing Marketing Materials and Presentations, Writing Proposals and Plans, and Conducting Staff Development Sessions in addition to working as a vocational consultant. Learn more about Mary and her services:

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