Whether in the context of a job fair, a brief meeting in an elevator, or a formal job interview, being prepared to answer questions about yourself will help you to clearly understand your career objectives and also provide insight about who you are as a person. By providing precise, structured answers to the questions, the person will be much more inclined to refer you. Also, presenting yourself as enthusiastic, adaptable and direct will also contribute to an employer’s positive impression.
I always like to say that questions that probe your personality will reveal the most salient aspects of who you are. These questions are asked in a context where time is short and where you are challenged to answer in the most efficient way possible, often inspiring clear and concise revelations about yourself.
Preparation: an important step
Read the job description very carefully. It’s important that you understand exactly what the employer is looking for. Then take the time to research the employer by visiting their website and social media pages, and by reading news articles about the company. The way you present yourself to interviewers will vary from one job offer to the next, so make sure you prepare yourself specifically for each opportunity.
Be strategic and make links
If you could only remember one thing before going to a job interview, it’s this: Always make a link between your profile and the job you’re applying for. My best advice is to present your experience and skills as a perfect reflection of the job’s requirements. Make a list of competencies that you acquired in your previous jobs that are also required by the job you’re applying for. Is bilingualism a requirement? Mention that you’re bilingual. Remember that sometimes we may be particularly proud of an achievement that isn’t relevant to the position we’re applying for. In these cases it’s best to avoid talking about non-applicable achievements; you can save mentioning them for another opportunity.
Also, write down the points that you really want to prioritize during the interview. List them in order of importance, as this will help you speak more fluidly in the interview.
What to say about yourself
Be brief and resume your professional path (including your education, years of experience in your field, expertise, skills and knowledge). In Québec, it’s a good practice to not mention anything about where you’re from, your family or your personal interests.
If you have more than two years of experience in a related field, focus on talking about this rather than spending precious time recounting your education. Assume that the interviewer has read your CV and try to provide new information and insights. Québec employers ascribe much more value to professional experience than education. You can distinguish yourself in the eyes of a recruiter by talking about your knowledge of different industries, types of customers, or interesting projects that you have participated in. Explain to them what you are an expert in. Dig into your experience to illustrate your particular competencies to the interviewer.
Bring your unique perspective to the interview
What is your ultimate employment goal? Why do you want to work for the company that is interviewing you? Why is the position a perfect fit for you? Employers don’t want to hear your life story; rather, they want to gauge your potential and find out what differentiates you from other candidates. During the interview, it’s your job to be authentic, while also being strategic.
And of course, don’t forget to smile!
By Jessica Ramhormozian