25 March 2008

Interview Question and Answer Series: #1

I don't remember my first interview, although I do remember my first job and my first paycheque. I was a junior secretary at a large bank and my salary was $137 every two weeks. I thought it was amazing.

In the late 70s and early 80s, jobs were plentiful and I never considered when I went on an interview that I wouldn't get the job. I am not bragging, I think there were more jobs than workers so if you were half decent you got the job.

I think in my day going on an interview was different from today. We were asked ordinary questions about our skills and experience. It was more like a conversation. I don't remember being nervous about it. Today the competition is tight and to get the job you need to have interview savvy.

My sister and I have compiled interview questions and answers that we review each time we go on an interview to put us in what I call "interview mode". I find when I review the questions before the interview then they don't take me by surprise when asked. If you are nervous some of the questions can really stump you, especially the way they are worded. And perhaps that is part of the strategy behind them.

I am going to do a series on the blog from time to time with some interview questions and the answers we have come up with and had success with.

So here starts the series with probably the most common question that is asked at an interview:

Tell me about yourself?

In this question they are asking you to briefly describe your background and experience. Be prepared with a five liner which describes you. Practice it with enthusiasm. The first few minutes of the interview, including your very first exchange with the staffing specialist, often forms a lasting impression and may mean getting the job or not.

If you have an opportunity, do this on videotape and watch your body language. Do you appear confident? Are there too many ahs and ums in your speech pattern? Get comfortable with your answer and you will have a good start to your interview.

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