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By Terry Lende, careers specialist

Over the past year, I've been sharing essential job search techniques with you, specifically on where to find mining jobs, writing cover letters and resumes. I am confident that all your hard work has made a difference in your search! 

In this article, I will talk about how to interview with power and confidence. You'll learn about the different types of questions employers will ask and how you might respond. We'll talk about the difference between "behaviour descriptive", traditional, and "situation descriptive" questions.

So, your resume has done its job, employers are interested in speaking with you. How do you make sure you make the best possible impression at the all-important interview?

This is not the time for improvisation! Preparation, practice and learning are the key.

1. Review the company's website

What are the company's mission, vision and values? What are their products and services? The history?

2. Prepare for key questions

It is very unlikely that you will know the exact questions you will be asked, so be prepared to answer some key traditional interview questions:

  • "Tell me about yourself." This is typically a work-related question. Practice a 90-second response that summarizes your past (work/school experience), your present (what brought you here today) and your future (how you see your skills, training and motivation fitting with the company).
  • "What makes you a good candidate for this job?" Match your skills to the job posting. Your company research will help you align your response to the company's mission and values.
  • "Why are you no longer at your last company?" This is often tied into the "tell me about yourself" question or can be asked independently. Prepare an exit statement. Always, always, always be positive about your previous employer. Be factual and concise.

3. Review "situational questions" 

  • "Tell me about your last job." Whenever possible, connect your previous experience to the requirements of the new role.
  • "What would your last boss say are your strengths, weaknesses?" Be specific and concrete. When addressing the weakness question, have a meaningful response that demonstrates self-understanding and has a strategy to address. For example, saying you are so committed to your work that you don’t take your holidays, can appear trite and self-serving. Instead, consider a response that demonstrates how a strength over done can become a weakness: "I am very proud of my drive to always get the job done. At the same time I recognize no one does it alone. I am working on always talking to the team and my boss when I need help."

4. Prepare to 'SOAR'

Any time you are asked a question that starts with "Tell me about a time when", or "Give me an example of", you are being asked "Behavioural Descriptive Interview" (BDI) questions. The employer is looking for concrete examples of what you did, not what you might do. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to use the job posting as a guide and prepare SOAR stories. Focus your interview preparation on developing and practicing responses to BDI questions. A SOAR story can be used to respond to multiple BDI questions. Prepare your success stories using these guidelines:

  • S: situation or challenge
  • O: obstacles you overcame to meet the challenge
  • A: actions you took
    And most importantly:
  • R: result! How did your actions impact the company?

NOTE: The underlying theory of BDI questions is: Frequency and immediacy is the best predictor of future success. A good way to start your response could be "That situation occurred frequently at my last company." or "A recent example that comes to mind…." and you’re off to the races! Then go through any obstacles you encountered, actions you took, and the end result. If the result can be tied to a number, even better. Did you save time, money, improve accuracy, safety, efficiency?

5. Have your own questions ready

At the end of the interview, you may be asked if you have any questions. Once again, be prepared. Show interest in the company. Typical questions might be:

  • Beyond the job description, what are your expectations?
  • Can you tell me about your onboarding process?
  • How would you describe the work environment?
  • And of course – What are the next steps in the hiring process?

6. General tips

Your first impression is critical. Arrive early, dress appropriately, have a firm handshake and maintain eye contact.

Listen carefully, and if you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification.

Remember, just like the first time you rode a bicycle, you didn't just hop on and ride! The more you practice, the better you get. Practice out loud. What you think you are going to say and what you actually say can sometimes be quite different!

After every interview, do a review. What did you learn? What did you do well? Were there question that stumped you? What would be a better or more complete answer? 

Prepare, practice and learn, and you will be always put your best foot forward in the interview! 

More great career tips from Terry Lende:

Terry Lende is Vice President Professional Services & Operations with global talent mobility firm Lee Hecht Harrison, providing operational leadership for career transition services in Western Canada. She is an accomplished business leader with 25 years’ experience in program development, facilitation, client relationship management, training and coaching at all organizational levels.