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Your McMurray Career Advice - Interview Tips: Your Guide to Getting the Job!

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Finally your resume landed you the interview; it is now time to seal the deal! Preparation is the key to a successful interview.  Start by preparing a 30 second ‘elevator pitch’ to market yourself and your skills. This pitch should summarize who you are, what you do and why you are the perfect candidate. Practice makes perfect so practice in front of the mirror or with friends/family until it becomes the perfect marketing tool for you to use in your interview. If the first question you get is the classic “tell us a little bit about yourself” then this speech could be the ‘hook’ for the employer, to get them interested and intrigued from the get, or it could be used at the end of the interview to summarize and remind the employer why you would be the perfect candidate.

Strong and collaborative teams lead to increased productivity and efficiency. Organizations are not only concerned with making sure that individuals have the right qualifications and skills but also increasingly concerned with whether the person they are hiring will be the ‘RIGHT FIT’ for the team and environment. This is why behavioural questions are so common in an interview; these types of questions help an employer determine the overall competency of the candidates as well as providing insight into their behaviour and how they would respond to certain situations. Some of the key competencies and skills that employers hope to identify through these questions are decision making, conflict resolution, teamwork and the ability to take initiative. So make sure you are prepared with the right examples to demonstrate these competencies. 

Prepare some examples from your past work experience that would be relevant to the position you are interviewing for and relevant to the organization. The examples should highlight specific skills that would make you the ideal candidate for the job. Take your time to answer the questions and use the STAR method to organize and structure your answers and examples. The STAR method broken down is simple:

Situation (background, setting the scene), Task (what was required, when, where, who), Action (the steps you took, skills you used), Results (the outcome, what happened).

Don’t go into an interview without doing your research on the organization. Review the organization’s website, read a little bit about their vision and values and learn about the core business. Use this information to your advantage by demonstrating the same vision and values through your responses and relating your experience and skills back to the organization. Taking the time to do some research will always impress in an interview because it shows that you are serious about the job and helps demonstrate your understanding of the business.

You would be surprised to know the little mistakes we tend to make during interviews, sometimes the obvious things are not so obvious. On the day of the interview be sure to arrive early, bring a copy of your resume for your reference, bring a typed up list of your references in case they are requested and make a note of the name(s) and position(s) of the interviewer(s) so that you can send a thank you email and follow up after.

Remember that for the most part the person sitting across from you does not know you, they are asking you questions and observing your behavior and body language, all of which is helping them form their opinion about you. It is important to show that we are confident and engaged in the process and body language is crucial to this. Be sure to make eye contact, this shows confidence, if you have more than one person on the panel, make continuous eye contact with them all. Try to keep your body language as open as possible, avoid crossing your arms or leaning back in your seat as this could make you look disengaged. Try and keep your hands free and most of all just relax, smile and be yourself. 

Need help preparing for an interview?

Schedule a mock interview with a Career and Employment Consultant at the Alberta Works Centre (9915 Franklin Avenue) and get some valuable tips and information to help you seal the deal!


Samra Ilyas works for Alberta Works/Human Services in Fort McMurray, providing employment and financial supports and services. With expertise in career development and years of experience, she shares some advice and ideas through the YMM Career Advice column.

Samra is also a community leader and dedicated volunteer; participating in various boards/committees such as the RMWB Landlord and Tenants Advisory Board, Collaboration for Religious Inclusion, Northern Lights Sisters Association and a local school council. She is a strong advocate of Fort McMurray and actively encourages and promotes volunteerism as a way to give back to the community.

Got a question or have an idea for a topic? DM and follow Samra on Twitter @ilyasSamra.