“There is no such thing as being too prepared for a job interview or too knowledgeable about a prospective employer”

Landing a job interview can be an exciting yet nerve-wracking experience. Your first thought may be “What questions will the interviewer ask me?”

Don’t fret. An interview is the first indication that the organization considers you as a qualified candidate for a position. During the interview process, it’s your opportunity to share your individual talents that make you qualified for the job.

If you want to land a coveted position there are a number of interview techniques that can help you feel prepared and confident.  Below are the top 5 commonly asked interview questions and tips on how to answer them successfully.

Question #1: Tell me about yourself

Use this opportunity to share your key qualifications and elaborate on your relevant experiences. Hiring managers are looking for a concise, enthusiastic response that highlights why you’d be a great fit for the position. Make sure you carefully read the job description and understand what the organization is looking for in an applicant. You want to note how your work experience aligns with their hiring objectives. When sharing anecdotes place the emphasis on relevant professional experience and proof of performance. You won’t be able to fit all of your achievements into five minutes, however, you can practice how to present yourself confidently in a way that starts the interview on positive note.

Question #2: What is your greatest strength?

Before your interview, determine what your top strengths or skills are, and then prepare solid examples. It’s vital to identify your work-related strengths and practice talking about them in advance. That way, you’ll be ready to articulate what makes you unique. Your strengths could include experience with a certain software, like Excel, or expertise in a particular industry. You can also share  positive personality or artistic qualities with your hiring manager.

Come prepared with a couple of examples of accomplishments that prove those you have those strengths. Often times you can share the feedback you’ve received from former supervisors and colleagues. It’s helpful to pick the strengths that are directly relevant to the job you are applying for. Overall, the hiring manager will have a better understanding of how your qualifications match their requirements.

Question #3: Why would you like to work for us?

This is a great opportunity to impress the interviewer with what you know about their organization and share how you can contribute to their success.

This requires you doing a bit of research about the company, prior to the interview. Find out everything you can about the company, industry, and position. Highlight the positives aspects of their mission and recent successes. You must also determine what  excites you about the work.  The interviewer wants to know why you interested in the position and how your experience will add to the landscape of the company.

It’s also important to have a good sense of the organization’s mission statement and what sets them apart from its competitors. Familiarize yourself with the initiatives and/or services provided by that company.  During the interview, you can use this knowledge to explain how your professional objectives align with the company. There is no such thing as being too prepared for a job interview or too knowledgeable about a prospective employer!

Question #4: How do you deal with conflict?

The relevance of this interview question is based on workplace realities. Tensions can arise during deadline-driven projects and people can respond negatively to stress. Interviewers are trying to find people who know how to cope with problems and work effectively with others. Your response and methods of handling conflict are an important part of the interview process.

Ask yourself “How do you prevent conflict from escalating or happening again in the workplace?” To succeed professionally, you must be able to navigate different people and work environments.

Be prepared with specific examples and speak about the situation diplomatically. This will illustrate your ability to be professional, and not talk negatively about your former colleagues. Your interviewer will want to hear that you learned something from the conflict you experienced and that you’re a team player.

Question #5: Why did you leave your last position?

Everyone has a different reason for leaving a job. The question itself can be answered in several way, depending on your circumstances. Perhaps you want to go back to school, you were unexpectedly laid-off, or you decided to pursue new career goals.

One reason that can be provided is an enhancement of skills and overall education. Another reason  may be your current job doesn’t offer room for advancement. You can also share that you’ve thoroughly researched the organization and feel that it’s a much better fit for you professional growth.

Keep your answer  positive and focus on your future with the potential company.  It’s in bad taste to gossip or talk negatively about your former company or supervisor. A new employer will assume that you’ll do the same to them one day! Whatever the reason for leaving your position, be honest, positive, and  highlight your desire for new challenges.

An interview is your time to make a good first impression. This practical advice will ensure you arrive prepared and stand out as the right candidate for the position!

This post is part of a regular blog series, NYFA Creative Careers.  Let us know what other interview questions you would like answered on Twitter: @nyfacurrent and using the hashtag #NYFACreativeCareers. 

Job seekers, find jobs around the country on NYFA Classifieds and reach out for individualized support to artists through the NYFA Source Hotline ([email protected] | 1-800-232-2789 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM EST Mon-Fri)

– Glory Edim, Program Associate, Online Resources 

Image: Eric White (Fellow in Painting ‘10), The Crunge

Amy Aronoff
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