Industry Trends

Job interview on the horizon? Here are some tips to help you prepare.

Gearing up for an interview can be intimidating and stressful. I am here to tell you that you are not alone and I will prepare you to the best of my abilities. I will keep it simple and to the point as much as possible.

Stories. Stories. Stories. Maybe you haven’t interviewed in over a decade, but that should be a good thing. Not interviewing for an extended period of time usually means a person has been gainfully employed. The biggest hurdle for interviewees is how they present their experience and knowledge.

Preparing for an interview can be tricky. When we don’t have any direction regarding questions that may be asked, we typically overthink what the questions may be, and might spend time in areas that may not be beneficial and end up being counterproductive. You may be preparing for something that will never be brought up. Also, we have all heard stories about being asked crazy, off-the-wall questions, but the truth is, we will never really know what an interviewer may ask. If an interviewer asks you a question that is out of the left-field; it usually means they’ve run out of things to ask you and they are just filling time.

Preparing for an interview should include ways to demonstrate actions you have taken that resulted in positive outcomes. Show the interviewer what you can bring to the table for the new company.

My advice is to reflect on three scenarios that impacted you while spending time at your last employer. Get good at telling these stories; remember details, how you felt and the names of other involved. Write these stories down and read them out loud for practice.

Here are a few tips to ensure these stories are impactful:
• Pick stories that illustrate how you had to overcome adversity.
• Ensure the stories are relevant to the job you are interviewing for. I.E. If you are applying for a management level position, think of a time when you had an issue with a co-worker, share what the issue was as well as the resolution.
• Stick to the truth, do not exaggerate the stories to make them sound better.

The reason I say three scenarios is because if you only have one, you may not be asked a question that your response relates to. If you try to think of too many stories, then you may miss details or not focus on the best stories. In my opinion, you are well equipped to tackle an interview if you get good at telling three stories that are relevant to the role for which you are applying.

The interviewer will remember a good story that is original and unique to you much more than a generic, vague answer because you are quickly trying to pull something from your memory bank. When you prepare for an interview with answers that you think may be “the best” or “the right” response, and run the risk of not being yourself. Showcase who you are and what you have done, make your responses personal.

The point I want to make is to stick to what you know and to your own experiences. Get good at sharing how they have impacted you as a worker and how that has shaped you.

Use the STAR method below as an outline for your story.
• S/T** Situation or Task A** Action R* Result.

Let’s walk through this.
• Situation/Task. Set the stage, is this a manufacturing plant? An office? Who was involved? What is your relationship with them? How long ago was this? How did the situation present itself? Did you anticipate the situation or where you caught off guard?
• What was your Action? How long did it take you to make the decision? Did you plan it? Were you tactful? How did you determine what the best action would be? Would you tweak the action if you had the chance?
• Result. How did it play out? Was it a success? Could it have been done better? What did you learn? How has this impacted the way you view these scenarios now?

Hopefully, this gives you a good outline of how to effectively prepare for your interview. I will end by simply saying though that nothing is guaranteed and sometimes you cannot prepare for what may be thrown at you. Remember to be yourself and share your own experiences. Oh, and please remember to never bash your previous employer, that never goes well.

Submitted by Kelly O’Brien, business development manager at EV Group.