Focus on the EMPLOYER'S needs.
As a job seeker, you naturally focus
your energies on defining the qualities that you want in a job
and an employer.
But in an interview situation,
the employer is more interested in knowing what you can do for their
organization and how you can fill the role they have available.
Especially in a strong job market, it is all too easy for inexperienced
job seekers to focus on their own needs and desires, while failing to
address, in concrete terms, how they can meet the employer's needs.
At the same time, however, the employer
wants to determine whether you are sufficiently motivated to excel in
this job. While you should focus on the contribution you can make to the
organization, you should also convey your interest in the job, the
career field and the organization by asking well-thought-out questions
and by clearly defining and articulating your career goals.
- Attend An Interview Workshop
Assistance Services) or practice interviews with an employment
counsellor or a friend.
A Personality Inventory
Analyze how your strengths, personal
and academic experiences, as well as your interests can be
transferred to the position for which you are applying.
Employment Assistance Services offer various tools to help you.
You can also use
- Create a catalogue of your
Every employer would like to hire
people who can prove that they can do the job, and the best
proof is prior experience.
To get a handle on how you have
performed in previous roles, recruiters will often ask "behavioral
interview questions", which ask you to relate a specific
experience based on the criteria set by the interviewer. (An example
would be, "Tell me about a time when you handled a difficult
situation with a co-worker.")
To successfully answer
interview questions (as well as most other interview
questions), you must be prepared to speak in concise terms about
relevant experiences that reflect positively on your skills and your
We suggest that you create a
written catalogue of your successes. You will not give this
list to employers, but you will use it extensively in preparing for
- In creating this catalogue, don't
limit yourself to experiences at school or paid jobs.
Whether you are a student or in the work force, you should consider
your volunteer experiences, your extracurricular activities and your
projects for school. In some cases, it is appropriate to include
experiences from your personal life (e.g. if you are a mother
returning to the work force).
Many of these successes will already
appear on your resume - especially if your resume is not just a list
of your previous job duties, but also includes your accomplishments,
projects you initiated or positive changes you made while on the
job, at internships or in your extra-curricular activities.
But don't limit yourself to the
items that appear on your resume, either. Take some time to
reflect on each job or activity you have engaged in over the
previous several years, and try to pinpoint those times that you
produced a positive result or were challenged by difficult
- As you enter items onto your
list, write about how each situation reflects positively on the
skills and qualities you want to convey to an employer (see
Five Employer Concerns). The most effective items will be
those that reflect the skills necessary for the job at hand, as well
as the personal characteristics that most employers seek (ability to
work as part of a team; leadership ability; high level of
motivation; positive attitude; ability to solve problems; ability to
deal with adversity, to create new solutions, to follow through on a
project to completion; etc.).
- Write down dates, names,
quantities or measurements of success and other details that will
convey the situation to the interviewer.
- Having generated a catalogue of
your successes, you should review the items on this catalogue and
then list your five or six greatest strengths. Under each strength,
list several key examples that demonstrate that skill or
characteristic. This will provide you with a sense of the main
points you would like to make in any interview situation.
- Research the career field and the
company - THIS IS ESSENTIAL and often overlooked
Here's what recruiters have
sometimes said about BC students - "they're bright, they're
articulate, BUT often they haven't sufficiently researched
the job, the company or the career field."
Click here for advice and research links.
- Review Potential Questions
As you prepare for your interviews,
keep in mind that every interview question is aimed at satisfying
five employer concerns. With those in mind, take the following
- Think deeply about
the various elements of the job description. (If you only have a
brief description, you might want to call the Human Resources office
and ask them to send you a more detailed description, which may go
by a fancy HR name, like "Position Content Document.")
list of the main skills and personal characteristics that
this job seems to require (five to seven items on your list is
ideal, though you may have more).
- Next, read through your
"catalogue of success." For each skill or personal characteristic
that this job requires, try to find strong examples from your
success list. Think about how you can demonstrate that you are a
problem solver, a team player, a proactive seeker of solutions.
- Check our lists of interview
questions, then make your own list of the questions you anticipate
commonly asked questions in a
commonly asked questions
in a behavioural interview
- Practice answering
potential questions. There are two ways to do this:
- Write out your responses to the most likely questions. This
will help you to focus on creating concise answers.
- Practice answering these questions out loud. Don't
answers (you don't want to come off as wooden or pre-packaged in your
interview), but do rehearse. You will feel much more articulate and be
more focused if you've actually spoken your answers to anticipated
TIP: Ask a friend or adult family member to read the questions to
you - you may feel a little silly, at first, but you'd be amazed at how
this will force to you shape your answers and be concise.
- Generate a list of questions you
would like to ask the employer.
There are three reasons to ask
intelligent and informed questions in an interview:
Questions to Ask
- You demonstrate your interest
in the job and the company.
- You demonstrate that you have
researched the company to the extent that you can now ask more
detailed and probing questions.
- You need to gather information
about this job and this employer to see if they really do match
your career goals and needs.
Questions Not to Ask
- Start lining up your references
several weeks in advance.
Interviewers may ask you for a list
of references. You should create a single page listing three to five
references. For more information on this process,
- Find Out Time, Place and Interviewer
Be sure you have the correct time
and clear directions to the interview. Obtain the interviewer's name
- Purchase a good quality portfolio.
To hold copies of your resume, a
pen, lists of questions to ask, etc.
- Check your appearance.
Your attire should be neat,
professional and appropriate for your intended field. Visit our
Dress for Interviews page, or
speak with an employment counselor.
Behavioural Interview Questions
Traditional Interview Questions
Case Interview Questions
Company / Job
Questions determining your Competence
Questions on Wages / Salaries
Your Community Involvement