It’s always a good idea to prepare for an interview, but how? Of course, it pays to know about the organization and the role that you are applying for – but how to prepare for those tough interview questions? We’ve all read about how to make weaknesses appear as strengths and there are any number of websites which claim to have the answers to interviewers’ toughest questions.
But let’s consider what the interviewer wants. A well-run interview is not confrontational, but designed to give you the opportunity to show your strengths and how they match the role concerned. Typically, interviewers want to find out three things:
- what you have achieved;
- how you contributed to the success of your organization; and
- what you have learned from your mistakes.
Their questions are designed to understand as much about the future you as possible and they do this by finding out about your past successes; why you made certain decisions; and what you might do differently in future.
The aim is to have an open exchange and the best advice is that you should be authentic. Bear in mind that not only does the perfect candidate not exist, but someone who knows everything there is to know about a role won’t have much scope for development. Try to keep the conversation natural; don’t work from prepared answers and be sure to leave the interviewer the opportunity to guide the conversation to other areas of interest. Of course, you should have done your research on the organization—and ready to ask any questions to make sure you understand it and the role better.
So when you prepare, take some time to think about some of your biggest achievements. Think about some of the barriers you faced, the people you worked with, the decisions you made – and, yes, the mistakes too! That will help to bring to the forefront of your mind the kind of things that good interviewers will want to hear and know about.
— Spencer Hamilton, Principal Consultant