The Interview Process: 1. Know yourself. 2. Know the organization; Creating a Q&A Planning sheet.


 When preparing for an interview, the interview does not only constitute the actual face-to-face meeting(s), rather the interview, or hiring process is the whole process from the moment you first contact the organization to the job offer. There are several steps in the hiring process, including steps in preparation, the first contact—that is the first time you, the job seeker, contacts the organization is the first step. Since you are seeking out employment, you must understand that every action you make in all communications with the potential employer is going to be under surveillance. I’ve learned from recruitment and selection procedures that not only does the individual seek to find a right-fit employer, but the organization also seeks to find the right-fit employee. This means that if two individuals scored the same on employments testing, had the same qualifications, but differed largely in their level of professionalism and attitude best suited for the organization, the individual who met the “best-fit” criteria would be offered the position.

You must be able to identify the type of interview questions being used, once you have, the focus shifts to what specific response is being sought. Creating a Question-and-Answer Planning sheet will help you conduct a professional interview (see below for an interview Q&A guide).

 As a job seeker, you need to understand which organizations would be a best-fit, that is the first step in preparing for communications with the organizations. Get an understanding of your personal traits and strengths and weaknesses of each trait as they translates to the professional world. When it comes to reaching the desired organizational culture, the importance of finding right-fit employees to promote strategic objectives are high.

All of this suggests that you must “know yourself” and know the organization. Do research to get to the know the organization, the type of industry, the culture, vision and mission statements, position qualifications and even the job titles or names of individuals in the organization that have a leading-role in the operations. Knowing all this information will guarantee that you can speak confidently, fluently, and specifically about yourself—qualifications, best-fit-traits, weaknesses and strengths and about the organization—what the organization is, who their customers are, how they view themselves, that is their current and future goals and their culture.

When you know yourself and the organization, you can prepare to meet the expectations of all the elements in the hiring process. Once you have gained an understanding of your personal traits and found an organization with open positions that best-fits yourself, you can ensure even initial applications and conversations are completed to promote your qualifications. Actions like ensuring voicemails and email addresses are professionally set to meet the organizations needs help promote qualifications in the early stages of the hiring process.

As you need to be self and organization aware, you must also become familiar with the general interview process. That would be to understand the different types of interviews and the different types of interview questions. The first step in the interview stage is grasping essential interview actions like developing and portraying a good attitude, once you have developed good self-marketing skills, then you can focus on answering interview questions and asking questions that promote job qualifications, a positive attitude, communication skills and organizational fit—image and appearance.

As you seek to prepare for a specific job, remember to understand the organization, use self-awareness skills, and know the interview process. There are at times where “traps” within interview questions are used, I will provide you with examples so you can create your own Questions and Answer Planning sheet.


Why do you think you are the best candidate for this job?

Question Type: Stress

Traps?  Seeing as stress questions are asked to determine how you would perform under stress, you need to make sure your response includes some insight into your problem solving and decision-making skills.

Reminder: You want to ensure that you highlight your interest in the position, and not just your interest in getting hired. Also, give an example of a specific work experience related to the question to show your problem solving and decision-making skills, and how your education or experience will promote your qualifications.

Possible follow up Q: What specific challenges of the job do you feel you can overcome? How would you overcome them?


Tell me about yourself?

Question Type: Character

Traps? Answers should highlight positive qualities, if the follow-up questions encourage you to expand on your initial answer, be sure to keep your follow-up answers specific to the job, the organization and seeking further information on the job requirements.

Reminder: Highlight your positive qualities that relate to the organization’s culture and the position. Make sure the information you provide shows your self-awareness level and how you are a best fit for the organization, not just the position.

Possible follow-up Q: What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?


What is your greatest weakness and strength?

Question Type:  Stress

Traps? This question can be used to analyze credibility, you must be careful in your answer to ensure it is believable.

Reminder: Ensure your answer gives a specific example because this type of question can be categorized as a high-pressure question and giving too many examples may cause you to fumble. Also include how you currently overcome any weakness or how you plan to.

Possible follow-up Q:  Can you give me any more examples of your weaknesses?


Describe an experience when you dealt successfully with an angry customer or co- worker?

Question Type:  Behavioral

Traps?  Depending on the situation that happened the answer can be long, you need to ensure to stick with the SAR technique.

Reminder: You want to ensure the interviewer was able to get the results of the situation. So be sure to use the SAR model and focus on a past performance that affected workplace culture or other area’s that you have found through your research to be important to the organization.


What is your long-term career plan and how does it relate to the position for which you are being interviewed?

Question Type: General

Traps? If the job is relevant to your long-term career goals.

Reminder: Ensure you provide enough information that showed the job was relevant to your career goals, as well as ensuring you outlined your goal in the job.

Possible follow-up Q: Have you always worked towards a career in _________?


Given the option, would you prefer to work on projects alone or as part of a team? Why?

Question Type: General

Traps? Teamwork is highly valued in the workplace, if a candidate suggests he or she doesn’t value it by stating working independently is preferred, he or she may not meet the job qualifications.

Reminder: Ensure your answer includes information that participating as a team member was displayed as being important to you, especially when making decisions in projects.

Possible follow-up Q: Can you give me a specific example of successful team role you undertook?


You are being interviewed for this job. Why do you want to leave your current job?

Question Type: Stress

Traps? The answer you give can shed some light on your intentions in seeking new employment. If it’s for employee-organization incongruence, you need to be careful not to disqualify yourself by focusing too much on the negative aspects your previous or current job.

Reminder: Ensure the interviewer understood that you would only leave an organization if the career and development opportunities ceased to exist. You have career goals and showing that you have the initiative to meet those goals is good way to promote positive personal qualities, especially at an organization where job rotation and a learning culture exists.


What questions do you have of us?

Reminder: Gear your questions to promote your interest in the supporting the organizations culture and achieving your career goals.

 Thanks for reading. My next blog will include an example of more behavioral and situational questions that you can use to prepare for your interview. I will also include a score card on some of the answers a candidate may provide so you can get a good idea of what would be a level 1 or level 5 answer.

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