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Interviewing for Jobs

Asian woman across table from another person in a job interview

What is a job interview?

A job interview is an interview consisting of a conversation between a job applicant and a representative of an employer which is conducted to assess whether the applicant should be hired. Interviews are one of the most popularly used devices for employee selection.

Source: Wikipedia

Tips on how to conduct an awesome interview

Ohio Means Jobs has a great place for you to brush up on your interview skills and practice with mock interviews.  Please visit Ohiomeansjobs.com, and I will walk you through on how to get to the practice interviewing section.

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OMJ_Practice_interviews_PracticeMockInterview

In this section, you can choose your interview based on industry, competency/skill set, general questions, and more.


So, for example, let’s choose by industry

OMJ_Practice_interviews_PracticeMockInterview_Industry

This section allows you to choose certain industries, such as Accounting, Engineering, Customer Service and more!


For this example, let’s go into the Customer Service Industry tab

OMJ_Practice_interviews_PracticeMockInterview_IndustryCustomerService


Here you will see four sections of Mock Interviews that you can practice.  So, go into Work Ethic with Andy.

OMJ_Practice_interviews_PracticeMockInterview_IndustryCustomerServiceWorkEthic

This section will allow you to record yourself through a webcam if you have one.  But if you select play on Andy he will ask you questions, and you can practice your responses.  You can again do it through web cam or you don’t have to if you don’t have that option.


Before interviewing with a company, people should research and become familiar with some of the following concepts:

  • People should look, and study press releases that companies put out.  These can help you understand their type of language and could set a good tone for your interview.
  • Looking at the company’s LinkedIn account and by connecting with their people, you will have you clearer understanding of what skills these employees are currently using.  This will allow you to perhaps learn a new skill before applying for the job.
  • Reviewing the company website and the way it describes it organization will give you a feel for the overall tone of the company.
  • When an employer asks you “Why are you interested in our company?”, what they are really asking is how do you see yourself contributing to the team and the position.  They are also interested in your long-term career goals.
  • Items listed at the bottom of the responsibilities list of a job description are not as important.  Focus on the beginning of the list.
  • Identify potential employers’ needs and relate to them how you will meet those needs.  If you are a career changer, spell out how your current skills can transition to the job you are applying for.
  • Interviews are given usually in two formats: situational and behavioral.  The situational interview focuses more on your analytical abilities, planning and problem-solving skills.  A sample question to measure this would be “What do you expect to accomplish in your first thirty days of employment?”  They would be able to see if you can think fast and it would tell them how you would approach a problem and if you are serious about the position.
  • Behavioral interviews measure future behavior.  It focuses on your strengths and weaknesses.  A question like, so “tell me about yourself?’  “What are your strengths?” “What are your weaknesses?”
    • The question “What are your strengths” is asking about your competency, what can you bring to the position.  What skills or traits align with the job you have applied for.
    • Another strength question would be, “What would your direct supervisor say about you?  How do you add value to the organization?  You must also highlight your answers with specific examples.  Just saying that you are good at something is not enough, give examples.
    • Another behavioral question is, “What are your weaknesses?”  Be honest with them about this.  Focus on a skill that needs to be improved upon.  Don’t focus on a human error flaws such as “I work too hard” or “I am a perfectionist.”  You could say something like well, “I have beginner and intermediate knowledge of Excel, and I would really like to get to an advanced level of Excel knowledge. “
  • Questions such as “What do you like about our position or why are you interested.”  This is really code for are you serious about working for us?
  • If asked, “Why do you want to leave your current company?”, you need to be sure that even if you are in a negative situation with your current employer, you must put a positive spin on why you are ready to leave this company to work for them.  The people who are interviewing you want to make sure that you are focused and that you are not a job hopper.
    • You can spin this in a way where you can tell a potential employer what is or was missing in last position.  An example would be that “the company afforded me the opportunity to develop research skills, but I am primarily interested in how to develop management skills.”  “My supervisor did not have this time to offer this type of support, and what I like most about this position is the management opportunity it offers.”
  • Candidates go into an interview focusing only on past accomplishments—and that is okay, but what you really need to demonstrate is what you are going to accomplish in the first 90 days of your employment with the new company.
  • During an interview, if you are asked, “When have you gone above and beyond at work?”, they are most likely questioning your work ethic and motivation.  Other ways they may ask this question is “tell me about a time that you exceeded expectations?”   Remember to focus on ethics and motivation, this is important.
  • “Tell me about a time when you had to handle a difficult situation and how did you go about resolving it?”  This is becoming a more common question because potential employers want to know if you can solve problems, and how do you relate to people when you are under stress?
    • “How did you handle a disagreement with your supervisor?”  This kind of question falls under the umbrella of “how did you hand a difficult situation.”  Was the disagreement combative or was the disagreement productive?  Combative reasoning is also not necessarily a bad thing as long it is respectful to all parties involved.  This especially the case with Unions, and people who work in high-stress situations such as UPS where loading trucks in a proper way is of the utmost importance.  An example would be, two managers who work for United Parcel Service disagree on how one worker is loading a truck.  The discussion perhaps gets a little heated, but one must restrain from undesirable language and sarcasm.  Even if one walks away in disagreement and is unhappy, it is important to walk away from the situation and act accordingly—meaning should I bring a Senior Manager into this situation?

All companies and organizations have different way of conducting interviews.  You must find out what their interviewing style could be and come up with some strong answers to their questions.  Analyze the position before you interview, and this will allow you to determine what your strengths and weaknesses are in a pragmatic way.  Most interviewers agree that there are many common interview questions, but each answer should not be common—this is where you need to shine and differentiate yourself from your competition.


Other Interview Question Examples

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • Why are you looking for a new opportunity now?
  • Tell me about a time you had to assert yourself to make a point?
  • Describe a time when you were assigned a project without clear direction.  What did you do?
  • How do you get along with the people that you work with?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to work closely with someone who was difficult?
  • Give me an example of how you handled criticism on the job?
  • Tell me about a time that you identified a need and went above and beyond the call of duty to get things done?
  • Tell me about a time that you exceeded a boss’ expectations?
  • Describe a project that required input from many people at different levels of the organization?
  • What tools do you use to schedule tasks?
  • You have three managers, and each has an important project requiring your time.  What do you do?
  • Describe a recent project that required you to analyze a large amount of information and develop conclusions.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to analyze numeric data under time pressure.
  • Tell me about a time when you came up with a new approach to a problem.
  • Describe a situation in which you found a creative way to overcome an obstacle.
  • Do you have any questions for me?

Valuable Links

Your Ultimate Guide to Answering the Most Common Interview Questions

100 top job interview questions—be prepared

Improve interviews by preparing answers to common interview questions

Job Search: Interviewing