Guest Blog by Christian Knoll
What are the secrets to being great in a job interview? What do you need to succeed, and how do you show the hiring manager that you are the best fit for the job?
The interview process can be difficult. But, if you know how to prepare and effectively answer your interviewer’s questions, you may just land your dream job!
Jim Brokish, an interview coach, former hiring manager, and retired Hewlett-Packard employee, shared his knowledge on the interview process and gave his best tips for conquering your next interview. Want more tips or have a specific question about interviewing? Check out the Library’s online calendar of events for Brokish’s next Secrets to a Great Job Interview workshop.
Q: What are some of the best practices to do before an interview?
Brokish: I believe the success of any interview is determined before it ever happens. It is the preparation that you do to get ready to meet with the hiring manager that really determines how an interview will go. There are the basics, of course: dress well, be punctual on your arrival, and do research on both the company and the position you applied for. However, a big part of success is pulling together specific examples from your past that show that you have the skills that are exactly what the hiring manager is looking for. Pulling together these examples can be difficult, but successfully doing so goes a long way in convincing the hiring manager that you are their ideal candidate.
Q: From your experience, what are the best ways to draw these examples, and how do you effectively convey these examples to the hiring manager?
A: Think of stories from your past work or volunteer experiences and tell them in a P.A.R format. “P.A.R.” stands for problem, action, and result. Many people, myself included, use this format to tell their examples in a compelling way. Hiring managers are bound to ask you about your previous work, and this is a quick and easy way to outline them. I urge people to have a small arsenal of these P.A.R. stories ready for the interviewer. Any time you answer a question with “let me give you an example,” you are doing it right.
Q: Can you give me an example on how you outline a P.A.R. story?
A: Of course! Let me give you a hypothetical leadership example:
Let’s pretend I’m a captain of a basketball team, and the team is not doing so well. We lost our first few games, and some of the players have been hassling each other making our overall performance worse than when we started. I have identified the problem; now what action do I take?
I call a team meeting without the coach and work with the team to implement some new team-building exercises to practice both on and off the court.
What are the results? Players start to work as teammates rather than individuals. Thanks to this, we manage to come back from a rough start to the season and place third in the league’s championship. At the end of the year, the coach gives me the leadership award for my work.
Q: Getting a job interview can be very exciting but is often a nerve-racking experience for many people. Do you have any advice to combat nervousness?
A: It is natural to be nervous for a job interview. However, excessive nervousness can make any hiring manager start to question if you are a good match for the position. I think it is important to recognize a couple things here. Remember that the hiring manager is nervous, too. They have just as much pressure in choosing the right individual as you do in needing a job. Second, if you have prepared and practiced ahead of time, you already have responses to 80% of the questions. With solid preparation, you can relax knowing it’s going to be a pretty great interview.
Q: Many people work positions they consider unrelated to the job they want to do. How do you explain these positions to hiring managers in your ideal field?
A: It’s a normal thing for a person to work one job, but their ideal job is in another line of work. If you’re creative in the way you look at your current job and view it in a broad sense, you will see that many of the skills and results are transferable. If you don’t find all the needed skills that transfer, you can still build skills through volunteer work or apprenticeships.
Q: Any advice before the interview ends? Or after the interview?
A: It is important to show interest in the position after the interview is over. Most hiring managers end the interview by asking if you have any questions for them. Have some prepared questions and ask them! By asking the hiring manager questions, it shows them that you have done your research and that you are also genuinely interested in the company and the position. In addition, hiring managers love excited candidates! I have interviewed a lot of people who end the interview with a boring ‘thank you for your time.’ What about the position excites you? Make sure to get that across loud and clear!
Want more job search and interview tips or have a specific question about interviewing? Check out the Library’s online calendar of events for Brokish’s next Secrets to a Great Job Interview workshop and visit our Job and Career Center webpage.
About the Blogger
Christian Knoll is a media specialist with a passion for creative storytelling. He possesses a multitude of interests including photography, videography, graphic design, and writing. His work has been featured on several online platforms, namely Colorado State University’s SOURCE news outlet.
Christian currently volunteers with the Poudre River Public Library District as a digital media specialist. His goals aim to inform the public about many programs and amenities the Library District offers. When he is not working, he spends his time traveling, hiking, or talking with close friends over a freshly brewed cup of coffee. To see more of his work, visit his online portfolio.