Ask a Coach

Q: I just found out that I have an interview tomorrow! How can I prepare with such short notice?

A: Congratulations on your interview! When you have short time to prepare, start with reviewing the job announcement for the position you're interviewing for. Look over the duties, qualifications and the vacancy questionnaire and pay attention to the skills the position is looking for. Then, see if you can come up with examples of times you utilized those skills in either your current position or positions you've held in the past. You'll want to use those examples in your answers to the interview questions because your interviewers are looking for you to show them your experience utilizing those skills. Once you've reviewed the duties and qualifications, you should look over your resume one more time. Remind yourself what you put down because you want to make sure you don't contradict what you put on your resume when you answer the interview questions.

Common Interview Questions

One of the best ways to prepare for a job interview is to practice possible interview questions. Practicing will give you an idea of what types of accomplishments you'd like to highlight in your answers.

Agencies and companies ask questions during the interview to make sure you can do the job and to see if you're a good fit for their workplace. Keep that in mind when you're formulating possible accomplishment statements.

3 Steps to a Good Answer

When answering interview questions, there are three things you must keep in mind. First, you must always be positive, making sure the answers not only highlight something positive you've done but put you in a positive light. You must also always give examples. Examples show the interviewer what you've actually done and help show what you can bring to the company. Last, you should always relate your answer to the job you're interviewing for. Agencies want to know what you can do for them and you can do that by relating your answer back to the position.

Be prepared for these questions:

Can you tell me about yourself?

The first question that will be asked in almost every interview is, "Can you tell me about yourself?" This is one of the trickiest questions for someone who is not prepared to answer. The interviewer doesn't want to hear your life history. Rather, he wants to hear about the experience you have and the positions you've held that relate directly to the position. Remember, always relate your answer to the job you're interviewing for and this question will be much easier.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

For this question, make sure your answer relates to what you'll be doing for the agency in five years. If you tell them you plan to be with another company or even worse, that you plan to have the interviewer's position, the agency won't want to hire you if you're just going to leave and the interviewer will have a bad taste in her mouth.

What's your greatest strength/weakness?

Remember to tie your strength to a trait you'll need for the position. When it comes to a weakness, it's ok to give them a weakness. Just make sure it's not too big a weakness, such as "I can never get my work done," and give an example of a weakness that could also be seen as a strength, or at least let them know you acknowledge your weakness and are working on turning it into a strength.

What did you not like about a former boss?

This is a trick question - never badmouth a former boss with your answer. If you badmouth a former boss now, will you do the same with the new boss in the future? It's ok if you talk about a difference in philosophy, but never say something disparaging.

Practicing common interview questions will help you feel comfortable during your interview and will help you stand above other candidates. Good luck!