careers.novascotia.ca

Interviews

The interview is the most important part of the job search.  The candidate that does the best in the interview will likely be the candidate chosen for the job.  Research shows that employers often decide if they want to hire you in the first two minutes of an interview.  Do not let that scare you.  There is a secret to making a good first impression.  Once you have mastered it, you will be well on your way to the job of your dreams.

  • First impressions are important. When you go to an interview remember that you are selling an image. Well fitting (but not too tight!) clothing, simple designs, and neutral colours are the best bet. Remember, it is always better to be over-dressed for an interview.
     
  • Prepare - the morning of the interview take time to review the job description and answers to your anticipated questions. Remember to bring copies of your resume, a list of your references, a copy of the job description, your notes (questions for the panel, answers to anticipated questions), paper, and two pens. These should all be put into a folder or portfolio for easy reference.
     
  • Answer Carefully. When you are asked a question during the interview take the time to collect your thoughts before answering. Never answer with a simple yes or no – elaborate and provide specific examples. Answer questions honestly and if questions touch on areas of past mistakes, take the opportunity to describe what you learned from the experiences. Never speak badly about past employers. Be positive and professional.
     
  • Ask Questions Many employers will ask if you have any questions during the interview. Take this opportunity to clarify information about the organization or position, and asking intelligent, relevant questions can show your interest in the position. Some questions to consider when you are doing research before an interview: Are there any recent projects that you would like to know more about? Are there certain aspects of the job description that you would like clarified? How do the various departments function together? Who does this position report to? Other questions may come to you during the interview. Keep a pad and pen handy to jot down notes so you can ask them later.
     
  • Do Not... DO NOT bring up salary expectations during an interview. DO ensure you have done enough research to have a range estimate in case the interviewer brings it up. It is to your advantage to wait until you have an offer to discuss salary. You do not want to be screened out because you indicated a salary preference that was not in line with what the employer was thinking.

After the interview send a thank-you note to each individual who was on the interview panel. This is a quick and simple way to differentiate yourself from the other candidates. Keep it professional and stick to proper business formatting.

Preparing for the Interview

Sample Interview Questions

Review possible questions ahead of time.  There are several different interview formats, but most will be a

Behavioural Interview

This means that the employer will ask you questions about your previous behaviour in order to predict your future behaviour.  Example – “Can you tell us about a time where you implemented a good idea (or solved a conflict or achieved something you are proud of)?”

One of the most important facets of a behavioural interview is the ability to summarize both the action that you took in the past and the result of your action.  The S.T.A.R. method can help ensure you address key points in your response: Situation – Task – Action – Result.

S

SITUATION- Describe the circumstances

T

TASK - Specify the project or assignment

A

ACTION - Outline the steps you took

R

RESULT - Discuss the outcome of the situation and any lessons learned

It is a good idea to try to anticipate the types of questions you will be asked in an interview and practice your responses beforehand.  In preparing your answers focus on what the organization is looking for in an employee.  Identify situations in the past where you have demonstrated the qualities and skills they are seeking.  Link the attributes to what you have learned about the company.  Be prepared to talk about the roles you played, actions you took, and the results of your actions.  Ask yourself “why do I want this job?” and “what do I have to offer?”, and try to incorporate those answers into your responses.

Make sure you practice your answers out loud.  If possible, get someone to videotape you so you can really see how you are coming across.  Hearing and seeing yourself perform can help hone your interview skills.  Be clear and concise, and make yourself sound great.  Obviously, you want to choose key moments that you are really proud of and that demonstrate your star qualities to the employer.

 

Situational Interview

Situational interview questions are similar to Behavioural questions, but rather than focusing on a past experience, they focus on a hypothetical situation that you might face on the job.  This style is designed to show how you would perform in a situation based on your present skills, knowledge, and abilities.  The S.T.A.R approach can help with these questions as well.  Review the steps you have taken to solve similar problems and make corrections.  You can also incorporate these experiences into your answers to show that you have experience in handling similar situations.

 

Traditional Interview

The traditional interview uses broad based questions that attempt to answer three questions: 1. Does the job-seeker have the skills and abilities to perform the job? 2. Does the job-seeker possess the enthusiasm and work ethic the employer requires? 3. Will the job seeker be a team player and fit into the organization’s culture?