Sunday, April 15, 2012

Getting ready for the job interview

So, I found out late on Friday that I have an interview outside of the Government of Canada on Monday. The first thoughts were joyous and after that it was all work...

Here are some effective steps to get ready for a job interview:

1. Use your networks. First thing I did was call a friend I knew worked there. We chatted about what he knows, who he knows, what his interview experience was like. He helped focus me - he told me the organization typically probes knowledge of the organization, they use situational questioning, and they prefer to hire within, amongst other things

2. Do your research. I went to the organization's hiring page and clicked on every link and read everything. I read the union agreements, the leadership competencies, and the learning program. I looked for their brand - which often is simple statements that show the more lengthy corporate vision, mission, and value statements.

3. Read and re-read the job advertisement that you applied to. Focus in on key sentences & look for repetition. In the first paragraph there is "showcase your ability to manage multiple priorities". In the bullet list, there is "prioritize workload requirements and create and utilize tools and practices to support efficiencies". In the qualifications section, there is “demonstrated ability to effectively manage large work volumes". This leads me to believe there will be a question on this factor.

There are two ways a skilled interviewer will ask about a skill or personal quality - behavioural (your past) or situational (hypothetically). So, for this factor I will think of 2 or 3 great stories in my past where I have handled large workloads AND I will consider what key steps to successfully managing lots of work are.

4. When in doubt, Google. Some organizations have jargon and you are best to figure out what they mean. In my job as, there was the phrase “Performance-based recruitment". My Google search led me to Lou Adler's book Hire with your Head - Using Performance-Based Hiring to Build Great Teams. Google books had a preview of the book on-line so I read a few pages, including the table of contents. Now I know what is it and can prepare.

5. Check over your resume and understand your stories. My resume has "Advises Government of Canada Executives, Senior Managers, and Middle Managers, HR professionals on HR issues including HR planning, organizational design, recruitment, assessment, and on-boarding.” So this afternoon I will spend recalling in detail my advisory success stories that displayed good judgment, good passion, or good leadership.

6. Create a binder. I like to hole punch and organize all my work. I stick in the job advertisement that I have been carrying in my pocket for the last 3 days, the copy of the resume I submitted, all my hand-written notes on the organization, the key competencies, my dissection of the job advertisement, the questions I have for the interview board, and the stories from my past on the key concepts. I use this prepare and I bring it into the interview in case it is acceptable to refer to my notes.

7. Chill out. Unclutter your brain, find perspective and balance. A job seeker often assumes success or failure resulting in over-confidence or under-confidence. Find the mid-point and take control of what you can. The organization is investing in an interview with you so that is a sign they think you could be the right person.

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