Mental Preparation for a Job Interview
What is a Job Interview
A job interview is a very important event in any person’s working life. A successful interview is one of the initial steps to landing a job and thus it is important to understand this process. Like any other event in life, we need to prepare for the interview to be successful. Let us start by first understanding the meaning of a job interview. A job interview, as defined by businessdictionary.com, is “A somewhat formal discussion between a hirer and an applicant or candidate, typically in person, in which information is exchanged, with the intention of establishing the applicant’s suitability for a position”. This definition gives one a clear idea of the purpose of an interview, which can more informally be stated as a meeting with one objective; generally conducted face to face, with one or more persons of the employer, acting as interviewers.
Objective of the Job Interview
The objective of the employer is to find the person best suited for the job in terms of abilities, experience and personality. The mode employed is generally through questioning techniques that comprise of questions from the following broad spectrum of issues that are of interest to the employer.
Can the person do the job? To do any job, the candidate has to have certain skills, qualifications and abilities. The interviewer starts with lead on questions and goes on to follow up probing questions based on the interviewee’s response, with the aim of eliciting information about the candidate’s qualifications, skills and abilities. Most of this information is already available with the employer through the interviewee’s resume. The mere fact that the person has been called for an interview implies that the candidate meets all the basic requirements of the employer, in terms of education, other qualifications, and experience. The purpose of the interview is basically to reconfirm the veracity of the information provided, as also to get some more depth on certain important aspects of the resume. The interviewee’s job is primarily to truthfully ‘defend the resume’. This implies that the resume has to be factually correct.
Will the person do the job? Skills, qualifications and abilities are one aspect that lay the foundation of whether the person is capable of doing the job but the more important aspect is about the attitude, interest, and motivation of the person to do the stated job. These are intrinsic qualities within every person that govern the fact of whether the person would do the job. The questioning to elicit this information may take the form of ‘what if’ and ‘give an example’ questions.
How will the person fit into the organisation? This is where the personality of the individual comes into play. Every organisation has a number of individuals to do various tasks and it is important that all these individuals work synergistically as a team. Synergy has an impact on both output and quality. Personality has a major impact on creating synergistic teams in an organisation.
Preparing for the Job Interview
Know Thyself. The employer’s intent during the interview is to find an answer to the question, ‘why should I hire you?’ It is your responsibility to convince him that you are the most suitable candidate for the advertised position. The preparation for the interview would thus need to assess the following about oneself: -
- Key skills, attributes and other requirements which are essential for the position, and how your education, experience and skills help you to meet those requirements?
- Value that you would add to the position for which you are interviewing, and also to the organization.
- How have you grown as a person and as a professional, over the years?
- How do you interact with co-workers and team mates?
- What results have you achieved thus far; have you made any mistakes; what have you learnt from them about what you could have done differently for better results?
- What motivates you?
Defending one’s CV. All of the above information about oneself would necessarily form part of the Curriculum Vitae (CV), in some relevant format. This information on the CV should be updated and checked for accuracy and completeness with regards to one’s skills, experience, qualities and achievements. Likely questions on skills, values, interests, abilities and on one’s short and long term career plans should be visualised, and also, how these would be answered during the interview. These answers should ideally be elaborated with relevant examples, and these examples need to be identified at the preparatory stage itself. ‘Practice makes perfect’ is true in this situation. Make note cards for each answer and try to practice with a family member or friend. This practice would be able to point out your weak and strong areas, for remedial action/ re-enforcement, as required.
Interview Location. Once this is done, an updated copy of the CV should be printed and placed in a folder, along with complete details of the references. Once the CV has been taken care of, it is a good idea to get familiar with the organisation, starting with the location where one is required to present oneself for the interview. This will help in preventing late arrival for the interview due to unfamiliarity with the route, traffic or location. A personal visit to the location could also be considered. This visit can give one an idea about the travel duration, as well as may give an opportunity to meet with some employees who can give one some information about the company/ sector. Arriving late for the interview is a complete ‘No’ and that is why so much time and effort should be put into ensuring that this does not happen.
Other Issues. The internet should be browsed for information about the company, starting with the company website. The company website contains a lot of useful information that one should make oneself familiar with. It is also a good idea to read all relevant articles/ reports about the company in the press. In short, get to know about the sector/ company as much as possible. Thereafter, think about your major concerns with regards to working at the new organisation. List these out in order of priority and prepare suitable questions to ask of the interviewer during the later part of the interview. Visualise a positive setting for the interview – it helps send out positive vibes during the interview, and also reduces anxiety before the interview. Plan what you would be wearing on the day of the interview, and keep it ready a day prior to the interview. Lastly, think positive.
A job interview is an important initial step to securing a job. To be successful, one has to intelligently prepare for it. The preparation starts with understanding the objectives of the interview; listing out the requirements of the position, as also understanding oneself in terms of how one’s education, experience, skills and attributes meet the requirements of the position, and the organisation. Understanding all of this and then planning for the interview can go a long way in helping one to be successful.
A link to the 'Top 50 questions in a Job Interview' by About.com are attached below. The Questions and the suggested answers are a good read to help one prepare on similar lines. Happy Interviewing.
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Top 50 Job Interview Questions from Job.com
- Top 50 Job Interview Questions
Review the top 50 interview questions asked by employers, as well as sample answers for each question on the list.