Despite it being rare to sit for a college interview, learning interviewing skills are important because it is still a part of life and it’s still a key method in the hiring process. Yes, we’re talking about the dreaded job interview, source of so much fear, anxiety and downright panic. It needn’t be something to dread -- in fact, with the proper preparation, believe it or not, a job interview can be something to look forward to. It can be your time to shine!
The web is full of advice on the sorts of questions you can be expected to ask, and how you should answer them. There are tips on what to wear, on shaking hands, on every aspect of the interview process. But here’s a tip that cuts to the heart of all of it: what all those questions are really asking.
Imagine you sit down before a manager whose job it is to find out what they can about you and decide whether you’re a good fit for the position. You’re nervous and fidgety, expecting to be asked about your resume or your work experience. Then you get hit by this one: “I’ve interviewed a dozen people today, some of them with more experience than you have. So why should I hire you instead of them?”
It’s a pretty devastating question. It’s also kind of a test. Basically you need to justify yourself in a very serious way. You have to say more than just “I’m going to work hard” or “I’m trustworthy.” You have to be able to talk about yourself with self-awareness, confidence, and especially what makes you unique, what makes you -- well, you.
When you think about all the questions that get asked at an interview, most of them boil down to this one, brutal, horrifying question. Just why should you be hired? What is it that you want out of life? Not just out of one job at one employer, but life? What is your relationship with society, and how do you wish to contribute to the world? What are your values? In a crowd of people, how do you stand out? What makes you special? Just who are you, exactly?
Unfortunately there isn’t an easy solution we can give you, but that’s all right. What you need to do is get to know yourself, search your heart and soul, find out who you really are and what you’re all about. Yes, it’s difficult and a lot of work. But once you’ve really explored your insides, so to speak, you’ll be able to march into that interview and not only answer all their questions with a clear voice and a confident gaze. Not only will you be in a better position to get that job, you really will stand out from the rest.
In addition to preparing to answer questions, it's important to consider what you want to know about the job and what questions you may have about it. Consider these questions as a starting point:
“What’s the top priority for the person you’ll hire for this position for the next six months?”
By asking this, you’re showing that you’re planning on succeeding as soon as you start work, without giving yourself weeks or months to learn the ropes and settle in to your new job.
“What’s the biggest challenge facing your staff, and would I be in a position to solve it?”
This question will get your interviewer talking about his/her workplace and the issues facing it, which in turn might have the subtle effect of treating you like you already work there.
“What would make someone successful in this position?”
Asking this question makes you look like someone who wants to do much more than just show up and collect a paycheck; it helps mark you out as someone who really wants to succeed.
“Would you be able to walk me through a typical day at your office?”
By asking this question, you’re giving the impression of a person who’s planning for getting things done from day one.
“Does your company offer additional training or assistance in continuing education?”
First of all, it’s helpful to know about your employer’s education and training policies because additional skills can really help your career; and secondly, looking into extra learning shows an intention to stick around for the long term and grow with the company.
“Is there anything you’d like to ask me but haven’t?”
This one can be a bit dicey, because it suggests that your interviewer might have private concerns about your application. But by offering the chance to get those concerns out in the open, you make it possible to address them -- and hopefully putting your employer’s mind at ease. You’ll need to be a bit confident, able to handle criticism and doubts from others. But that kind of confidence can also help your image.
“What’s the next step in the hiring process?”
Asking this will make you seem eager, even hungry for the job, and ready to take whatever next steps are involved in getting the job.
By becoming interested in the position, asking questions and appearing confident you are well on your way to acing your interview and starting a new job! Good luck!