Is every interview the same? Can you expect the same questions at every interview to which you are invited? The quick answer is, no! Not every interview is going to be structured the same way. The same questions may not be asked, it may be formal or very casual, or it could be conducted by one person or an entire board of interviewers. But how will you know what type of interview to which you are going? And how can you ever prepare?
Well, even though you may not know exactly what to expect, there are still ways to get yourself prepared.
- Ask questions. If you get invited to the interview over the phone, take a minute to ask the caller what kind of interview you will be attending. Simply explain that you would like to do as much preparation as possible, and it would be beneficial if you knew what kind of interview to expect, i.e. will you be asked Behavioural type questions, will it be formal, how long is it expected to take, etc. Don’t overdo it though. You don’t want to come across as being demanding.
- Research. Research the company to find out what their goal or mandate is, and what their values and ethics are. Check out their webpage or, if you know someone who works there, speak with them about the company’s culture. Be prepared to speak to how your beliefs and goals are aligned with theirs, i.e. if they promote continuous learning and development in their employees, be prepared to speak to how you look for new training opportunities.
- Identify competencies from the job advertisement. The job advertisement, in all likelihood, will be full of trigger words listing traits for which the company is looking. They may refer to them as competencies, or qualities, or requirements, but they all point to the same thing. It is the non tangible characteristics they are looking for in an employee, and you need to be prepared to speak to them. If they are looking for someone who can work independently, you need to be able to give an example of how you have worked independently.
- Use the essential qualifications listed in the job poster. If the job poster lists a number of essential qualifications, i.e. education or experience, be prepared to elaborate on it during the interview. Your resume will have already included that information, however, that will just be a snapshot. You should be prepared to highlight some specific accomplishments during the interview.
- Review the job description. Identify some key components of the job description that you have done in previous jobs, and highlight them. This will demonstrate that you have done it before, so you can do it again.
As you can see, there are a number of ways to get ready for an interview, even if you don’t know exactly what to expect when you arrive. And, as I have said a number of times before, the best way to get prepared is to practice, practice, practice. The more prepared you are, the less nervous you will be. And it doesn’t matter what the interview is for. Whether it be a summer job, a management position in a large corporation or the RCMP Regular Member Selection Interview, you must always be prepared.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help as you get yourself ready. Reach out to experts in the field for which you are applying, or if you know someone who is experienced in conducting an interview, they might also be helpful. Or you can seek the services of a Certified Professional Career Coach experienced in conducting interviews to help you work through the process.
Do you know someone who is faced with this challenge? Feel free to share this post by using the share links at the top of this page. Also, if you’d like more interview tips, feel free to check out the interview resource page.