Job hunting and interviewing can be nerve wracking, so try and remember this – you are looking for a job that suits you and your expertise, interests and passions. During an interview, don’t get so caught up in worrying about whether or not the interviewer likes your response or gets your humour. If you and the interviewer totally clash, then you are probably better off not receiving an offer anyway. So take a little pressure off of yourself. Now by that I don’t mean march into a job interview unprepared, I just mean that if things don’t work out, don’t take it too personally. Remember, you are interviewing the company as well to make sure it is a good fit for you.
Two years ago I was brand-new to Vancouver and quickly realized I had a lot to learn and practise before I could land a job that was well-suited for me. Let me share with you some of the resume and interview tips and strategies I learned along the way. These made a huge difference in my job hunting success.
- Your resume should be a reflection of you. Don’t be afraid to make your name bold and use some color, interesting fonts for titles, etc., but remember who your audience is – I was applying for marketing jobs where interviewers appreciated personal branding. This leads me to my next point…
- Research the company you are applying to first. Read their website and get a good overall feel of the tone and voice behind the words. Is the wording technical? To the point? Flowery? Light-hearted? Witty? All this should be taken into consideration when tailoring your resume and writing a cover letter for the job you are applying for.
- Always follow up on a job application after five or six business days if you haven’t heard anything. Many job postings online will say “no phone calls, please” – respect that, but send an email follow up. You will most likely get a response back about where they are in the resume review process. Make note of what they say and take action accordingly.
Once you’ve landed an interview:
- When you get to this point, half the battle is already done! You’ve managed to catch the interviewer’s eye enough for them to take a second look at your resume, and put it in the “potential candidate” pile.
- Now it is time to prepare for your interview. Usually the interviewer will give you a list of a couple times they have available for you to come in. Choose wisely – are you a morning person or an afternoon person? Which time out of the options presented will you feel most prepared?
- Prepare for the interview by writing out questions and scenarios, and your responses to each. By doing this, you will have a pool of information ready in your mind to pull from.
Practise interview questions:
I suggest that you write out the following questions and answers to each on a piece of paper. Once you’ve done this, go back and study them like you would for a test in school. Read the question to yourself, and practise answering out loud. This will familiarize you with the information you’d like to share so that you can pull answers from your memory during your interview. Remember, also just like in a test, the questions may not be worded the exact way you studied them, and you may be able to use parts of the answers you’ve prepared to answer other questions asked in the interview as well.
“So, why don’t you walk me through the experience you have listed here on your resume?”
This is your chance to explain a little about each position you have had in your past work experience. Highlight the parts of your role that you think required the most responsibility. Mention one or two of the most impressive projects you worked on that were important in your role. If you don’t have any work experience, highlight some projects and courses you did in school that reflect your abilities.
“During your time at [previous company], explain a time when you went above and beyond the call of duty in your position.”
List a time in each past position that you took initiative and explain how it paid off. This can be pulled from group or classroom work too.
“Tell me about a time when you felt really challenged or conflicted in a past role. What did you do to mitigate the situation?”
Think back to a scenario when this happened. For example, were you ever asked to step over your boss to do something? Were you ever given a task you knew you didn’t have the credentials to complete? Were you ever asked to disclose private information that you knew you shouldn’t provide? In school were you ever asked to help someone cheat on a test? Write out this scenario and highlight how you handled it responsibly and professionally.
“What would you say is your biggest weakness?”
This is a tough one! But surprisingly it is asked a lot. Hint: NEVER respond with “I don’t have one”. This type of question is character testing. No one is perfect, and with this question your interviewer is looking to see if you are able identify and admit what you need to work on. So, you should do this, but always finish your response by explaining how you’ve learned to deal with this weakness. For example:
“Sometimes when I get asked to do a lot of things at once I get frantic and have trouble focusing. But, I have learned that when in this situation, I just need to take a deep breath, sit back, or go for a walk, and then return to my desk with a clam, clear head to prioritise tasks as needed.”
“Why do you think you are a good fit for this role?”
You can prepare for this question by reviewing the job description, and writing out how you are experienced and excel in the responsibilities outlined (try and provide some examples of each by pulling from past job experience). The job description may also list personal characteristics, so touch on these as well.
“What drew you to this position and our company?”
Just be honest! What did you like about the job description and the company you applied to? Also, it’s good to review the company’s values and mission statement to get a sense for how the company intends to be portrayed.
Remember, you possess all the skills and information you need to perform outstandingly in an interview for a job within your range of qualifications. You just need to make sure you write out, study, and remember all the experience and knowledge you have gained in previous jobs, or during school.
I hope you have found these tips useful; happy job hunting! If you have any questions, feel free to tweet or message me at @Chelsie_Aichel.