Developing Interview Skills (6/10)
Welcome to the “How To… Find A Job In Canada” series!
Saying that last year wasn’t great economically speaking is an understatement. Pretty much all countries worldwide suffered from the global economic downturn and Canada was no exception. Yet, a lot of people are still considering moving to Canada, while others are already in the process and are probably worried about whether they will get a job at all.
There is no easy answer when it comes to employment. You know the story… a bit of patience, a bit of skills, a bit of luck.
I’m not a job counselor, and I’m not an expert. But I do know how it works in Canada and I’m hoping to pass along some information that may not be obvious to everyone. A post will be published every Saturday… enjoy!
Being called for a job interview is both exciting and scary. Exciting because you are being considered for a position, scary because you may lack confidence. Fortunately, with a little bit of practice, you will be able to improve your interview skills.
Before an interview
- Research the company: most companies today have a website explaining their mandate, the kind of positiona they offer, the services they provide etc. Research carefully! You can also learn quite a lot on a company’s mindset.
- Read again the ad for the position: you probably applied for a lot of positions and you may have forgotten what was the position about. Don’t laugh, it happens! Some hiring processes are notoriously slow and I was once called back for a position I had applied for… two years earlier. I usually save a copy of the ad of all the positions I apply for, either by taking a screenshot capture, either by just copying and pasting the ad into Word.
- Read again the cover letter your wrote for the position: same here… I usually write a different cover letter for each position I apply for and save them. It’s always a good idea to refresh your memory by reading the letter you wrote for the specific job.
- Map the location of the interview: don’t forget that most cities in Canada are very spread out. You may know where Queen St. is, but if the street is several miles long, make sure you know which way you are going! When the name of the street is very generic (River st. etc.), you can ask for directions when arranging the details of the interview. Most people will give you the nearest intersection (i.e River st at Bay and Gladstone).
- Allow enough time for transportation: no matter whether you are driving, busing or walking, always allow extra time for the unexpected. Snow storms, traffic delays etc. add extra stress on the day of the interview, especially if you are already running late.
- Prepare the most common interview questions: some questions are basically a given, and you should prepare for them. It gives you more confidence, especially if English/ French is not your first language. I also used to research specific terms related to the position and make a list of keywords. You can read 50 Most Common Interview Questions, as well as Common Interview Questions (a blog that lists the most common questions by job field).
During the interview
- Bring extra copies of your resume: good interviewers usually print out a copy of your resume and have it ready. But some… yeah, misplace it. Avoid this awkward moment by bringing extra copies of your resume.
- Make a good impression: there is no easy answer to what you should wear, but use common-sense. Some industries are more conservative than others (i.e banking) and you should stick to the dress code. Making a good impression also include greeting the receptionist, giving a firm handshake, being on time etc.
- Listen carefully: make sure you understand all the questions!
- Highlight your strengths: Canadians employers expect you to market yourself. While this is considered as bragging in some culture is perfectly acceptable here. Talk about your abilities and how you could add value to the company and refer to your past work experience and achievements.
- Give clear and concise answers: Canadian employers are usually pretty straightforward and want someone that can fit the position, period. Make sure you stay on topic and don’t waste time.
- Don’t linger: once again, interviews are not usually very long. Once you are done with the question, restate your interest in working in the company, say thank you and leave.
- Be prepared to provide a list of references to vouch for your abilities: some interviewers will email you later on for reference check but some like to ask for them at the end of the interview. Just prepare a sheet with your reference information, such as name, email, phone number etc and have it ready in case of.
After the interview
- Send a thank you note: within a day or two of the interview, send an email thanking the interview for his time and restate your interest in the position.
- Follow-up: if you haven’t heard anything form the company by the date that they agreed to contact you, send a note asking them for example how they are coming along with their decision.