The interview is the final stage to finally getting that new or dream job. Your resume impressed, now it’s your chance to convince them that you are the best person for the job. However, the interview process can be daunting and it’s important to be confident and well-spoken. The following tips will help you build your interview skills and are applicable to any interview situation, from a preliminary phone interview to a formal panel interview.
First and foremost, it is important to prepare for your interview through a variety of ways. You should have an understanding of your career goals so that you can effectively communicate them to others. Also, be prepared to discuss everything in your resume and cover letter because you never know what questions will be asked of you. Before the interview, look up some common interview questions and practice how you would answer. Practicing your answers allows you to come up with appropriate responses and remain confident throughout the interview. Check to make sure your social media presence is clean and appropriate as some employers may look to see what you are posting before deciding whether to extend an interview. Avoid embarrassing or compromising pictures and stay away from public posts on controversial topics, such as politics or religion.
One of the most overlooked aspects of preparing for an interview is to research the company or organization. By understanding more of the company’s values or goals, you can tailor your interview answer to align with them and find important information that you may want to ask about in the interview. Look for mission statements, press releases, or strategic plans on their website or check out Glassdoor or LinkedIn for more information you can use to better inform your answers and career decisions.
Some of the most popular interview questions you should be familiar with are:
- Tell me about yourself
- What are your strengths/weaknesses
- Where do you see yourself in ___ years
- Tell me about a time when…
Being prepared to answer these questions with thoughtful and appropriate responses will set a positive tone for the interview process and demonstrate your confidence in your own abilities. Let’s take a look at 2 methods to help us answer the different types of interview questions we may encounter.
The SHARP Method is designed to help you craft answers to more general or information questions, such as tell me about yourself or what are your strengths/weaknesses. SHARP stands for:
S – Specific
H – Honest
A – Appropriate
R – Relevant
P – Positive
When asked about yourself, use the SHARP method to discuss your previous position(s) that are applicable to the field or career, talk about specific duties or accomplishments, and avoid negative critiques of former employers or supervisors.
For more situational questions that ask you how you handled a situation or need to elaborate on a specific outcome, use the SOAR Method. SOAR stands for:
S – Situation
O – Obstacle
A – Action
R – Result
Clearly identifying each of these components in your response will demonstrate your ability to identify problems, weigh your options, and come to a reasonable solution to the obstacle. These questions are designed to test your critical-thinking and problem-solving skills and are a great way to bring in experiences from other jobs that may not be related to the career or job your are currently in or applying for. There are no “right” answers to these questions, so use positive examples from your past that highlight your qualifications.
It is important to point out that there are questions that employers are NOT allowed to ask you. These relate to:
- Martial status
- Race, religion, national origin
- Sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation
- Disability or pregnancy
- Current or previous salary/benefits (NJ specific)
If an interviewer attempts to ask you any of these questions, politely decline to answer and shift the focus back onto the job and your qualifications as a candidate. Additionally, you should not ask about salary in the interview unless it is disclosed by the interviewer. If you wish to know the salary of a position, you can inquire with the HR department, which may disclose that information, or check Glassdoor, through which current and former employees may post their salary and other useful information about the employer.
To obtain a copy of the presentation, please visit https://www.njstatelib.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Interview-Tips-and-Tricks.pdf.