Be prepared to answer certain questions that often throw candidates for a loop during an interview. Common ones are:
- Tell me about yourself
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Tell me about a time when . or; How would you handle this situation?
- What is your biggest weakness?
These might not be the most enlightened questions, but they are asked a lot and they all have a couple things in common. They are designed to see how the candidate thinks on her feet (hence the need to prepare) and they also aim at assessing decision-making skills.
Behavioral-type questions such as "Tell me about a time ... " test interpersonal skills, how you handle stress and how you apply critical thinking. For that type of question, come to the interview armed with personal experiences in which you demonstrated maturity, team work and good ethics. You do not have to be perfect, but if you admit growth and lessons--learned you gain extra points. Remember, the employer is always thinking "Is this candidate the best person for this job?" They are also looking for patterns and inconsistencies. They could care less about your hobbies or personal success in some other setting.
At the interview itself, it is important to answer honestly. A job offer can be rescinded (even months after you have started working) if it is found there has been falsification of qualifications, experience or other substantial information. It is perfectly fine to clarify a question, pause and think about your answer, revise an answer, or to admit that you do not know.
The interview is a two-way process, somewhat like a date. So always be prepared to ask questions as well. This is an excellent way to learn more about the organization, see if the job sounds like a good fit, and weave into the conversation skills and talents you possess, instead of waiting to be asked. Not asking questions can be interpreted as lack of interest- or even lack of intellectual curiosity.
Some questions to ask:
- Clarify details about the organization that you might have discovered during your pre-interview research.
- Ask about the culture, value, mission and vision of the organization.
- Clarify the scope of the job-schedule, reporting structure, responsibilities.
- Ask about the laboratory organization, performance on proficiency testing, test volumes, accreditation status.
- Always ask about next steps in the hiring process.
Never ask about salary specifically, although it is fine to ask about benefits, performance evaluation and employee recognition methods.
Finally, as simple as it sounds, always thank the interviewer (or panel) for granting you an interview and follow up promptly with an email expressing interest in--and excitement about--the position. That one gesture gains you points and makes you stand out from the crowd. Once you have done all these things you wait to (hopefully) receive a call offering you the job. But instead of simply waiting, move on to the next prospect and you will soon find you have the luxurious option of selecting the best job for you from all the available offers!
Glen McDaniel (email@example.com) is a healthcare consultant, clinical lab scientist, speaker and freelance writer. His interests include mediation, leadership, change and ethics.
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