(ARA) - Job interviews can be filled with anxiety if you are not prepared for the questions and the answers.
Preparing for your job interview is a lot more than updating your resume and getting a haircut. Doing your homework is critical to your success. In the current competitive job market, no amount of research is too extreme, says Jodi Berkshire, assistant director of Career Services at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. No one can anticipate every question an employer might ask, but you should be prepared to gracefully handle the most commonly asked questions. To prepare for the job interview, Berkshire says here are a few questions you should be expecting:
1. "Tell me about yourself." Don't mistake this one for an easy question. If you don't carefully prepare your answer prior to the interview, it will show. The interviewer is not interested in where and when you were born, your childhood, your family or your hobbies. Craft a short response that gives a thumbnail sketch of you professionally. This is a great place to insert some of your sterling qualities and accomplishments and make sure that they dovetail with the requirements of the position for which you are interviewing. Be positive and enthusiastic and whatever you do, don't ramble.
2. "What do you know about our company?" "How did you hear about us?" Or, "Why do you want to work for us?" These are all variations on the same theme. The real question is: Did you do your homework? Any interviewer will expect that you have researched the company. That means that you should know their website inside and out. Have you Googled the company? Have you read any recent articles about them? If the only information you have to offer is what any person off the street who isn't applying for the position knows, it shows that you don't care enough and you're not very thorough.
3. "What are your strengths?" "Why should we hire you?" You can count on this question cropping up at some point during the interview. Here's a simple way to prepare. Take a sheet of paper and fold it in half vertically. On one side list all the specific technical qualities that you possess. Look at the job description and consider each skill that is mentioned. For example, if the job description mentions software skills that are required and you have those skills, go ahead and list them. In the other column, list the personal qualities that you bring to the job. These could be things like punctuality, reliability, enthusiasm, work ethic, professionalism, etc. Again, take another look at the job description and anticipate what qualities that hiring manager would be looking for. Here is your chance to sell yourself. Don't be afraid to let them know what a great addition you'd be to their company.
4. "What is your greatest weakness?" "How have you overcome it?" Be careful with this one. It is a potential minefield. This is not the time to bare your soul and reveal your deepest insecurities. Whatever you do, don't say you procrastinate, have trouble meeting deadlines, arrive late or that you don't get along well with others. You have two good choices here. You can either choose a weakness that is really a strength to an employer (you become so engrossed in your work that you find it hard to take a break until the project is completed), or choose something that you had to master at the beginning of your career that would be an expected learning curve for any entry-level recent college grad (you didn't really grasp project management in your first job and you had to make a deliberate effort to learn about time lines and time management.). If you choose the second example, make sure that you stress how your performance increased once you mastered the missing skill.
5. "What would your past employer tell me about you?" Again, tread carefully. Do not, under any circumstances, say anything negative about any past employer. Settle on a few of your strongest qualities and concentrate on those that reflect your strong work ethic and professionalism. Here is another perfect opportunity to sell yourself, but once again, be careful not to ramble.
6. "Why did you leave your last position?" If you left because you relocated or were offered a better position, you can breathe a sigh of relief. But what if you were terminated by the company? It's not the end of the world; it happens to everyone at some point in their career. Again, do not say anything bad about your last employer. If your position was eliminated due to budget cuts, say so and make it clear that you have nothing but fond memories and good feelings about the company. If you were let go because of something you did, try to take responsibility while making it clear that you would handle things differently today and that you learned a valuable lesson. Keep it short and sweet and don't be tempted to go into long, complicated explanations.
7. "What kind of salary are you looking for?" You can be assured that the interviewer knows what they are willing to pay. Again, there is no substitute for doing your homework. You should research what similar positions are worth in your area. Be careful to compare apples to apples on this one. A copywriter in New York can expect a higher salary than one in Detroit. Also look closely at the amount of experience and the skills required. A recent college graduate will not command the same salary as someone with five to 10 years of experience. You might say something like, "My research tells me that graphic designers in this area are generally earning (average salary range). How does that fit with what your company is offering?" And make sure that you can justify why you should command that salary range you are expecting.
Once you've done your research, practiced answers to commonly asked questions and become comfortable with the idea of selling yourself, remember to smile. In most interview situations, the candidate who appears to be relaxed, confident (not arrogant) and enthusiastic, usually has the best chance of being hired.
To learn more about The Art Institutes schools, visit www.artinstitutes.edu/nz.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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