Know How to Interview

Your resume and cover letter grabbed the attention of the employer and you have been asked to come in for an interview. Are you prepared to turn those interviews into job offers?

Interview Tips
Setting Up Job Interviews
  • Think about what you are going to say before you pick up the phone to call an employer.
  • You want the employer to think of you as a good future employee. 
  • You will have about 20 seconds to make the employer want to meet you. Therefore, what you say has to be brief, to the point, and persuasive.
Prepare for an Interview
  • Before your interview, think about what types of questions the employer might ask you and prepare answers you can give in less than 2 minutes.
    On the day of the interview:
  • Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. You might need to fill out paperwork before the interview.
  • Go by yourself. If a friend or relative drives you, have them wait in the car.
  • Wear an outfit that is professional looking. It should fit the type of job for which you are interviewing.
  • Do not wear fragrances in case one of your interviewers have allergies.
What to Bring to an Interview
  • Extra copies of your resume, your reference list, and examples of your work (portfolio).
  • Papers needed to complete your application. This includes copies of work licenses, your driving record (if required), and your social security or immigration cards.
  • Questions for you to ask during the interview.
During the Interview
  • Display confidence. Shake hands firmly, but only if a hand is offered to you first.
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Let the interviewer start the conversation.
  • Listen carefully. Give honest, direct answers.
  • Accept all questions with a smile, even the hard ones.
  • Think about your answers in your head before you talk. If you don't understand a question, ask to hear it again or for it to be reworded. You don't have to rush, but you don't want to appear indecisive.

An interview is a conversation with a purpose. Preparation helps you to relax and perform confidently.
Find out as much as you can about the job description.  Make sure you can demonstrate the connection between your experience and the job requirements.

Research the company or organization.  Know their product or service.    If you cannot find specific information about the company, look for information on the industry or sector.

Contact your references to let them know about the job interview, allowing them to make their reference relevant.  Bring your list of references, in case you are asked for them.  

Review your resume and bring several copies with you.  

When the interview appointment is made, be sure to verify date, time and place.   Before the interview day, find out how long it will take you to travel to the location and ARRIVE AT THE INTERVIEW EARLY. 
Dress appropriately.    Cleanliness and conservative dress are essential.    
Review your answers to questions you expect to be asked, especially the most difficult ones.
Here are some Labour Market websites:

The employer will want to know….

  1. Can you do the job?
    You must prove you have the skills and knowledge to achieve desired outcomes. For example, outcomes can be described as: to increase sales, to decrease errors, to satisfy customers, to perform up to standard.
  2. Will you do the job?
    You must convince them that you are motivated to work well and hard; that you have a good attitude and want to work for this particular organization.
  3. How will you fit in?
    You must illustrate that you are the kind of person whose personality and behavior will blend into the organizational culture.  

To answer those questions, you must know what the job requires.
What are the main tasks of the job?     What outcomes does the employer expect?
You should list the tasks and duties of the position.    Be as specific as possible. To find out more about the job, you can read typical job descriptions using the National Classification of Occupations and other career information.

How to Get Your Point Across

  • First, know your strengths.
  • Second, identify the skills, knowledge and experience you possess which are crucial for this job. 
  • Third, prepare examples to prove that you have these skills and knowledge.    Drawing on your experience, develop brief stories which give the interviewer a vivid picture of how you work.   Be sure to include the results you achieved in each situation.

You WILL be creating a first impression, what do YOU choose it to be?????

7 % Words
38% Tone of voice
55% Facial expression, body language

Storytelling Propels Careers

Concrete examples from your own experiences (work and/or life) demonstrate that you can do the things you say you can do. By revisiting a Situation, Task, And Result, you can develop stories illustrating your skills.

How STAR stories help you do well at interviews:

  1. Stories establish your identity and reveal your personality.  Stories satisfy the basic human need to be known.  Very important goal for job seekers.
  2. Stories help you know yourself and build confidence.  Developing and telling your stories can become the underpinning for self-authentication.  As you see common threads and patterns emerging in your stories, you will understand more about yourself, your goals, and your best career path, and understanding can’t help but improve your confidence.
  3. Stories make you memorable.    In Tom Washington’s book Interviewing Power; he states that “in less than three minutes, you can tell a powerful story that will make interviewers remember you favorably for days, weeks, or even months after the interview.”  We remember people who tell us stories because stories form the basis of how we think, organize and remember information.
  4. Stories establish an emotional connection between storyteller and listener and inspire the listener’s investment in the storyteller’s success.  When stories convey moving content and are told with feeling, the listener feels an emotional bond with the storyteller.  Often the listener can empathize or relate the story to an aspect of his or her own life.  That bond instantly enables the listener to invest emotionally in your success.
  5. Stories make you stand out.  Considering many other job seekers vying for the same position probably have similar qualifications to yours.  But they will not likely be demonstrating those qualifications in story form, which gives you the advantage of selling yourself in a very engaging way.
  6. Stories illustrate skills, accomplishments, values, characteristics, qualifications, expertise, strengths and more.    You can showcase any skill with a story.
  7. Stories paint vivid pictures.  When your parents told you a story as a child, you probably visualized it in your mind like a movie.  Job seekers can use colorful and even entertaining to imprint lasting visual images onto employers’ minds.
  8. Stories explain key life/career decisions, choices, and changes.  Especially revealing to employers are personal and career stories about coping strategies, risky moves, and choices made under pressure, imperfections, and lessons learned from mistakes and failures.
  9. Stories told well help you portray yourself as a good communicator.

Use the STAR (pdf) worksheet to develop your own stories.

A job interview is a two-way conversation with a purpose.   The employer wants to find out whether you can do the job and what kind of a person you are.  You want to tell the employer what you can do and how you can benefit the company. The more you know about the company and the job, the better you can explain why you should be hired.  

Do not expect the interviewer to ask you all the questions that would uncover your best qualities: be alert to use their questions to weave in your strengths.

Apply your transferable skills: What qualities have you demonstrated at work, in school, recreation or volunteer situations that would be relevant to skills needed at a job?

Employers are trying to assess your attitudes, level of confidence, maturity and get a feel for you values and work ethic.  Your past behavior is an excellent predictor of future behavior so the interviewer will therefore ask you for examples of where you had to use this skill in the past.

Employers use a variety of interview formats to elicit information:

Goal: Employers want examples of how you handled situations:
Example: Tell me how you handled the situation in school when you did most of the work in a team project but had to share marks equally?
Goal: What can they learn about you from your actions?
Example: How do you handle stress?
Goal: To see what your values and attitudes are and how you might handle yourself in the workplace:
Example: By providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations and environments.
A co-worker tells you in confidence that she plans to call in sick while actually taking a week's vacation. What would you do and why?
Goal: Can you think out of the box and apply general principles to their company?
If you had unlimited budget to apply to our company, what would you do with it?
Off the wall
Goal: How well do you think on the spot? Employers may ask you a question that seems completely bizarre to see who you are underneath your mask. 
Example If a music video were made of you, who would star in it?

What are they really asking? (pdf) Some questions behind the questions.

Sample Questions: now practice questions from TheBalanceCareers

Thank You Notes

The job interview is not over when you leave the meeting. You have one more chance to impress the employer. Follow up the interview with a thank-you letter.

Send a thank-you letter or note to each person who interviewed you. Your letter should have these main ideas:

  • Thank you notes, whether handwritten or printed, must be clear, concise, and legible.
  • Send the note promptly and be brief.
  • Address a person by name and title.
  • If interviewed by a panel, send a note to each person.
  • Provide examples of information you retained from your meeting or conversation, people are always impressed when someone remembers something specific that was said.
  • Briefly mention any information you didn’t get a chance to state in the interview, emphasizing your most important skills for the job.
  • Tell them when and how you will follow up.

If you told the interviewers that you would give them added information, make sure that you do. Keep track of when you said you would contact this employer to find out if you were hired. Don't forget to make that contact.

Thank You Note Examples (pdf)

Follow up

  • After you have sent a resume to an organization.
  • After you have been interviewed for a job.

It shows interest, organization, and that you are on top of things.
The person who lands the job is not necessarily the only who is the best qualified, but rather the one who knows the most about how to get hired!

It is not what you know, but who you know!
There are jobs out there. If you can’t find one:

  • Re-think your job search style. Are you searching in six different ways?
  • Re-think your objective.
  • Re-polish your skills.
  • Get results!

Cut Yourself Some Slack

  • Do your best.
  • Don’t take things personally.
  • Interviews are a learning experience.
  • Practice makes perfect.

Make a portfolio.  
A portfolio of your work can show employers your accomplishments.  You may include samples of work and school projects.  You can put these samples in a binder.  Some people like to put their samples online.  You can bring your portfolio to job interviews.

What to Put in Your Portfolio
If you are a: You could include:
  • Photographs of your work
Chef or Baker
  • Photographs of food or meals you've made
  • Recipes you created
  • Letters of recommendation from past supervisors
Computer programmer
or multimedia specialist
  • Screenshots of your programs
  • Printout of the computer code you wrote
  • Letters of recommendation from past supervisors
Dancer, actor, or musician
  • Video of your performances
  • Audio recordings of your work
Fashion designer or tailor
  • Pictures of the clothing that you have produced
  • Wear your own creations on the job interview
Office support staff
  • Brochures for projects you helped plan
  • Reports
  • Newsletters you organized
  • Spreadsheets
  • Other examples of work that you completed
  • Letters of recommendation from past supervisors
Writer or journalist
  • Copies of published articles
  • Printouts of your writing from websites
  • Video of your news stories


Reasons Why People Don't Get Hired After an Interview
  • Application form or resume is incomplete or sloppy
  • Arriving late for the interview
  • Didn’t ask questions about the job
  • Failure to express appreciation for interviewer's time
  • Lack of interest and enthusiasm
  • Lack of maturity
  • Lack of planning for career; no purpose and no goals
  • Negative attitude about past employers
  • Nervousness or lack of confidence and poise
  • No genuine interest in the company or job
  • Overemphasis on money
  • Overly aggressive behavior
  • Poor personal appearance
  • Responding vaguely to questions


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