Most people really hate interviewing for jobs. I don’t. I have had maybe ten interviews in my life because six of those I was hired from.  I moved, and had life changes that forced me to go elsewhere.  I have always gone into every interview with the thought that I have nothing to lose and maybe an acquaintance to gain. Each meeting is an opportunity to market yourself to not only a potential boss, but to a potential client, or community contact that might benefit you in the future.  First impressions are remembered. I learned a lot from each interview experience.

A smile, Eye contact, clear thoughtful speech, and a calm demeanor will make you appear smart and approachable to the interviewer. Being honest but also keeping in mind what the interviewer wants to hear is important. But being prepared is as important as the interview itself. Make sure you investigate the company. Look them up on line and on the Better Business bureau website. This ensures you have something to talk about with the interviewer when they ask you if you have any questions for them.

Be prepared for common questions such as the following:

  1.  Tell me a little something about yourself.

This is not your cue to tell the interviewer what you had for breakfast, or why you wore blue today. This is your chance to tell them what kind of worker and human being you are going to be if working in their organization. It’s okay to tell them you are a married mother of one living near their workplace, and that you have been employed steadily for x-employer for so many years. It is a good idea to tell them if you are involved or support any charitable organizations or alumni associations, and if you do volunteer work. It is the time to tell them any special skills that might be important to the current job, or if you recently were relicensed at a skill.

2.  Why are you leaving your current or previous employer?

This can be a hard question to answer if you are leaving because of disputes with coworkers or employers. It is a good idea to use a political hat when answering the question. Use a tactic of answering a question but maybe not directly the question asked. Explain that there were differences of opinion in ethics of the ways a client was handled that made you rethink your purpose with the company. Perhaps you felt that your skills were not being utilized in your current position and there was no opportunity to expand those abilities in your current place of employment. Maybe it was a matter of money? Don’t say that. Just say that there is no opportunity to advance in the company or that you were seeking benefits that were equal to your skill set that were not utilized in your current position.This is an answer without skewering a specific person at your work.

3.  How will hiring you benefit my company?

This is a question that always make me cringe because there are so many ways you can answer this wrong!  I came up with a solution to this question. I may not know the company well, but I know me well, so I answer this way:

I give 100 percent when I am on the job. I show up on time, I work effectively and efficiently completing tasks on time if humanly possible. I respect those around me who do their jobs well, and learn from them by asking questions. I help others who are struggling if I can make their load lighter. I do not take shortcuts to sacrifice getting a job done right the first time. My goal is to make a difference and leave at knowing I did my very best to deliver work I can be proud of at the end of every day.

This is a long-winded version of what I have said on job interviews but it easily meets most employers ethical standards. The other questions I have been asked include those about my skill set, or how I would handle a certain situation. It is hard to address questions about a specific scenario, but they have one thing in common, a challenge.  The question about what would you do if– is meant to find out how you handle a challenging situation and if you will handle it with sense and maturity.

I usually go with what I think the interviewer wants to hear and what the job description tells you about the company. If you will be hiring into a bank and they ask you what if…..and it involves an unhappy customer that answer is very different than how you would handle a bank robber!  These answers need to focus on your ability to handle stress and a mature answer should include reasonable thoughts.

Example: Remove the unruly customer from the main lobby if possible and invite them into a closed office where you ensure them a manager will address their complaint straight away while doing so in a respectful and humble manner. This gives the person time to cool off and feel important. Also, offer that you would certainly follow the institution or company guidelines on situations such as this. That let’s them know that you respect the policy of the company as much as using common sense.

Interviewers are not trying to make you answer foolish questions or trick you into saying anything terrible. What they are doing is looking for someone special with common sense who meets the requirements, shows up to work, and works hard for their paycheck. It is your job to convince them at the end of the 30 minute meeting that you are that person they seek.

Social Media: Do not post on Facebook, Twitter, or any websites, any derogatory information about a previous employer even if the company is on the 5 o’clock news! It doesn’t pay to burn your bridges or damn a specific person on public forum because some day they might be the only person around after you have fallen and can’t get up! That’s called Karma. Use your heads people! Many employers today seek the employees out on social media sites. If you are posting graphic pictures, or posting drunk comments on Twitter,  you may be cutting off your chance to a better position.

Follow up:  When is it appropriate to follow up after an interview? You should ask at the interview, usually the end, if the decision of hiring will be by a certain date or when you can expect to hear of any decision. This is appropriate and will likely get answered more readily than upon a call back. It is important that you get the name of the interviewer and an email address, or a business card from the front desk.  This allows you to send an email in 24 hours thanking your interviewer for their time and for the information about their services. This shows your respect and appreciation to the interviewer and gives them a chance to remember who you are while they are interviewing others. Respect goes a long way to keeping your encounter current in their minds. If a week has gone by, it is acceptable to call for an update. If you get no response, it is reasonable to think you need to move on to the next interview someplace else. Good Luck on your interview process, and remember that you have nothing to lose!






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