Interviewers are very busy people. When you walk into an interview, consider
that they want to hire you. They want you to be the right fit so they can get on
with their next hire or task at hand.

Start the interview with the idea that you have 100 points, you basically
have the job. With each question you answer incompletely or fail to impress the
listener(s) with, you lose points. Prepare strong answers to these 5 questions,
run them by a hiring manager or HR professional then practice, practice,
practice. People remember stories they don’t remember words so for each skill
you have identified that you bring to the job create relatable and meaningful
stories to validate your professional wonderment.

1. What have you done that has caused you to stand out amongst your
Explain how you have gone the extra mile by taking courses or
volunteering outside of work in a certain skill set area. Even if you are a
student interviewing for your first job you can talk about your school
involvement in clubs, teams, camp leadership or creative hobbies.

2. What have you done that has caused your company department to
either generate income or reduce its costs?
Using a Situation, Action
Result model, tell a story. Include sourcing a cheaper supplier, recycling a
product usually thrown away, or taken a course so a consultant doesn’t have to
be hired to do the work. If this ‘result’ hasn’t been a part of your reality
then relate how you personally respect and treat company equipment and supplies
that may positively affect the environment or recycling programs.

3. What have you implemented to help your company save time?
Using SAR’s again, tell of the resource database you put together or a
telecommunications implementation. Maybe you designed a form that saved a few
steps in a process and was easier to fill out. Be careful about multi tasking
stories unless they are moderate and manageable and haven’t led to a weakness
like stress or taking on too much or not being able to say no.

4. How did you contribute to the interpersonal element in your

Tell about how you organized the company golf day, or have
stayed late to help others. Talk about how you make a point of ‘walking around’
to engage your colleagues and comment on something they have accomplished lately
or a new clothing item. Make yourself more visible by sitting on a committee and
taking the initiative to mentor or orient new employees to your department.

5. What are your weaknesses? Make sure however you answer
this question that the weakness does not pertain to any skill required to do the
work involved in the position. You might mention how you aren’t as accomplished
at something that you would like to be so you are taking a course or practicing
daily on your own. It is also perfectly acceptable to say that as far as the
skills required to do this job, you don’t have any weaknesses though you are
unfamiliar with the way this company executes such and such, but you can learn
than in no time and be up and functioning fully within two days, or whatever
time line you determine. There are many different answers for this question,
whatever you say, be sure to turn it into a positive.

Keep in mind that you are selling yourself first and foremost. Interviewers
want to know what results you bring not the features. Be sure to tie what skills
you have to what benefits you will deliver, it’s called benefit selling and all
successful salespeople use this technique to close a deal. Good luck.

Colleen Clarke

Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer

Author of Networking: How to
Build Relationships That Count
and How to Get a Job and Keep It