Interviewing to be Hired – What is the Interviewer Looking for?
Interviewing – as noted as a chapter title in my book – is “The Bridge Between You and Your Next Job”. You can never be too well prepared to interview.
Part of being prepared is to put yourself in the shoes of those who will interview you – what is it they are trying to learn about you and then evaluate whether you are a good match or not.
I am part of an advisory team assisting a group of students at American University in Washington, DC. My role is to facilitate discussions that will help prepare them for life after graduation, including career planning and finding that first “real” job after college.
In doing so I have been looking at the material provide by AU’s career center and I find it to be really good informaton – much better than I have seen at other colleges and universities.
In particulalr, I really like their piece on Interviewing – “Key Considerations”. It breaks the interview process into four parts with suggested questions to be prepared to answer or ask as follows:
- Likelihood For Success
- Willingness To Perform
- Organizational Fit
- Your Turn (you get to ask questions here)
As noted in my book and elsewhere in this blog, to successfully interview… you need to be prepared. Really well prepared!
You need to be prepared to answer any and every possible question you might be asked by an interviewer. You also need to be prepared to ask questions to flesh out full knowledge of both the job and of the organization.
Write out the answers … and rehearse
If you are going to do anything a multiple number of times, it makes great sense to figure out the very best way to do so and then “cookbook” the process. Interviewing falls into this category.
You will be interviewed multiple times, often by different people at the same organization. You really need to nail the answers—every time. And the only way to do that is to draft—in writing—what you want to say as an answer. Then speak it aloud and then revise the answer to fit the spoken word. Ideally, have a friend or relative ask the questions, you speak out loud the answers in return, and have him or her critique your answers. You can read your answers for this exercise and then again edit the written responses. Is it time consuming? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes again!
The point is that you should never “wing it” answering a question. Your response needs to appear to be natural, an extension of your thought process. Yet you want to put the absolute correct spin on it—to convey the thoughts, ideas, and image putting you in the best possible light. And if you prepare properly, you should virtually never have to answer a question for the “first” time in an interview! You have answered it before in rehearsal and honed your answer to be the best possible answer.
Have you essentially memorized the meat of each answer? Yup, you sure have! To not do so is to risk not doing your best. Actors commit their lines to memory because they understand that without sticking 100% to the script, the story line will not be as clear and vivid as the producer and writers intended. Your interviews are no different.
It really isn’t that hard. The process of modifying your answers and then rehearsing them will result in you remembering them.
OK.. back to AU’s four areas of focus. I really like their recommended list of possible questions to be prepared to answer…..so I am going to list them here…with full accreditation to American University’s Career Center:
- Likelihood For Success – To convince an employer that your are the person it needs, you must first artulate your unique qualifications and outperform other interviewees. Be prepared to answer questions such as:
- What do you know about our organization?
- What led you to choose your college major?
- What is your greatest strength and weakness?
- What do you consider your greatest accomplishments and why?
- Why should this organization hire you?
- Willingness To Perform – Before investing heavily in you, an employer assesses your level of commitment to the position and organization. To convey your enthusiasm for the role and support of the organization’s mission, prepare genuine responses to these common questions:
- Why are you applying for this position?
- What are your most looking forward to in this role and why?
- What activity do you believe will be the most challenging and why?
- What contributions can you make to our organization?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Organizational Fit – An employer asks questions like the ones below to measure your compatibility with its mission, goals, workplace values, procedures, and people. In the interest of both you and the employer, answer honestly.
- What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
- What qualities do you seek in a manager?
- In what type of work environment are you most satisfied?
- How would a colleague or professional reference describe you?
- What situations are most stressful for you and how do you cope?
- Your Turn – An employer always reserves time toward the end of an interview to answer your questions. Take the opportunity to learn more in order to determine if the position and organization are right for you. If you are not prepared to ask questions, an employer may doubt your intention, so use the samples below as a starting point.
- What would a typical day be like for me?
- How will my performance be evaluated?
- How do employees advance within the organization?
- What do employees most enjoy about working here?
- What significant changes or challenges to the job, department or organization do your foresee in the short or long-term?
In closing – to “make the cut’ when interviewing – you MUST be prepared. Use this list of the four factors interviewers are exploring and the sample questions to aid in that preparation!!
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