We all have had an interview at one time or another in our professional careers. Interviews are hard enough as it is with getting through the first cuts of other qualified applicants, now that you have the interview all set up there are some questions that will be asked of you during the interview. The key to an interview is not one single thing, yet many items that you will be evaluated on.
Your work experience will be the first items up for “conversation” after the small talk with a selecting official. They will want to know: Why are you interested in the job? This isn’t a trick question; it’s a question the selecting official really wants to know. Are you looking for a career change? Are you looking for a new position because you were laid off? The key to answering this question is to be honest, don’t give your whole life story – but be honest.
Many government agencies like to know that the applicants have done some research on the organization. So, the next question will likely be: Why are you interested in working for this organization? This is an open ended question that can be short and sweet. You should make some kind of reference to the research you have done on the organization. For example, if you are interviewing for a Fire Fighter position – you could answer with something to the reference of “I am interested in working for this organization because I agree with the mission statement of saving lives and preserving the wild life.” Yes, it is cheesy, but if it’s true you should say it. Again, you need to be as professionally honest as possible. This will also come into handy with the next question: What do you know about the company? You will be able to elaborate on the previous answer you gave about the previous question.
The next question is vitally important: What do you feel you can contribute to this organization? This is a question that you MUST answer with YOU in mind for what YOU can contribute to the company. For many selecting officials this question is a “make or break” factor. If an applicant starts with what they feel they need from a company instead of what they CAN and WILL contribute to a company, the interview will be cut short. The key is to stay focused on what YOU can BRING to the COMPANY, not what you want from the company.
There are a series of questions that are often asked in conjunction with each other: Why did you leave you last job? What would your last employer say about you? Would your last employer re-hire you? And Give me an example of a situation where you had to make a decision? What was the situation? What was the decision? And what was the result? Now, these questions are called “character questions.” These are designed to “weed out” the real applicants from those whom have not been so honest during the interview. The best advice I can give is to be honest, have professional examples in mind before the interview and take your time answering the questions. You can ask the selecting official to re-state the questions, you can write the questions down and you have all the time in the world. REMEMBER: YOU are there because they saw something in your resume, phone interview or overall application that they liked.
Happy Job Hunting,