How to prep for a job interview — University Affairs

Don’t be afraid to ask an employer for a list of possible questions you might be asked.

When recent graduates or students apply for a job, they often do not fully understand what work is actually required to get the job. The interview is a big part of this job. While universities often have resources that can direct students to create resumes or interviews, they can be difficult to find.

When it comes to interviews, you have to do more than just introduce yourself and then regurgitate your resume. Instead, move on to practicing and anticipating questions in the most authentic way possible. Christine Maki is a producer at CBC and shared some of her observations about the interview process.

Before she became a producer for the Content Diversification branch in Ottawa, she had to go through many interviews. In their case, the applicants sat in front of a panel of three people: often someone from HR, the producer on the team they were applying for, and the editor-in-chief or executive producer. It lasts up to an hour and it is mainly the interviewee who speaks most of it.

To prepare, Ms. Maki said you should research as much as you can about the company you are applying to. If there are multiple branches, delve deep into that branch and pull out their mission statements and see what they are trying to accomplish. At the same time, think about how you will add value to the company.

“It’s hard,” she said. “They don’t necessarily have the experience to work in this place. But learn as much as you can about the place… and the people there,” Ms. Maki said.

Employers like the CBC might look at how closely an applicant has bonded with employees of the company. Employees are often very willing to make a 10-minute phone call or even chat back and forth on LinkedIn to learn how the company is, what the work environment is like, and what new ideas would be welcome.

Not only does this allow people to get an overview, but it also gives you, the applicant, a chance to see if this is really a company you want to work for. Remember that there is no one-way street when it comes to an interview – they are trying to make sure you are the right fit, but you are also trying to make sure this is a company that is right for you.

As you transition from internships and co-ops to the world of full-time jobs, the interview questions become much more technical and require practice. Businesses will still ask the usual questions like “Tell me about yourself,” “When did you accomplish a difficult task,” and “What do you bring with you?” For these questions, your answers should be dynamic.

“Really think carefully about what you want and bring to the table and who you are as a potential collaborator. When you apply for a job, you want to know as much as possible. Sit down and think carefully about what your specific skills are,” Ms. Maki said.

If you’re in an interview, don’t worry about the time you spend on your answers – as long as they aren’t overly long and convoluted. Make sure you are concise, eloquent and reflect your values. Your answers should reflect experiences that you did not address in your cover letter or resume. Sometimes employers want to hear how your own life experiences have influenced your approach to various problems.

The answers to your questions should also match what is reflected in the job description. For example: A marketing company is looking for someone who has excellent time management skills so they can juggle multiple projects at once. Instead of saying, “I have good time management skills,” talk about an experience of yours, preferably one that exemplifies that skill, without saying it’s allowed. Make sure it offers a problem, a solution to that problem, and what it led to in the future—even how it benefited the company.

One last tip: don’t be afraid to ask the company about any questions they might have. Spend half an hour practicing with someone. As you practice, your answers will become more organic and you’ll improve them.

“It wasn’t fun doing interviews all the time. But it was useful. And you meet a lot of interesting people during job interviews,” said Ms. Maki.

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