Job interview tips for our new graduates

Interview qualifications a job candidate must possess on a checklist clipboard including experience, communication, education and other skills necessary for a new position in your career

So you sent out a killer CV and get called for an interview.  On this one I want to tell you that I sent out 100 CVs by snail mail and these days you can do it because you can email them.  I got 4 replies. One company told me that Canada was going through a recession and could not hire.  The other 3 called me in for interviews.  So you make a very big mistake to think that you can send out 5 applications and lament about not being hired.

There are many types of interviews and here is a link to give you an idea of some of them.  It is not conclusive, just some types.  http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2014/07/24/6-types-of-interviews-and-how-to-nail-them

Let me address the Behaviour based interview which many good employers use.

Do your homework prior to the interview.  Dress sharp.  Women must not wear skimpy clothes showing their chest or legs. Men must be clean cut.  Wear a suit (red, orange, pink are called shouting colours so make your suit non intimidating.  Black, blue, beige and brown are more acceptable.  You live in Uganda so beige and brown works better for women.  However for men, any colour is okay.  If you do not own a suit, borrow one or rent it.  Owino has some too.

The reason why you need to do your homework is to learn about the company which is going to interview you.  Also prepare 2 printed copies of your CV and cover letter.  The interviewer might say “I do not have a copy of your CV, do you by any chance happen to have a copy?”.  You hand one over.  This shows organisational skills and preparedness.

Some typical questions on a Behavior based interview:

1: So tell me about yourself.

Answer:  I am 24 years old. I was born in Bududa.  I really need a job.  WRONG!

Better answer: I am graduating from the University of Toronto with a Masters in Information Science.  I have a bachelors in Business from Trent University.  I worked as a Computer Advisor while in both universities and I am looking forward to how I can contribute to your company and grow with your company.

2: How do you describe yourself as a fit for this job?

Answer: I work hard and I really need this job.  My parents have nothing and I need to help them.  WRONG!

Better answer: I have taken many computer programming courses and even helped other students in this field. I look forward to working in an environment which can help me to get better at what I have learned, a company that will give me more learning opportunities and the environment which will make me contribute fully from what I have learned.

3: Tell me about a time when you were faced with conflicting situations and how you resolved it.

Answer: I cannot think of such a thing but I am sure I can handle.  WRONG!

Better answer: While working on a project in a team, one of our team mates had a death in the family and had to go home.  We all chipped in to finish the project.  The conflict was him not being there to do his project but we had to finish the project on time in order to get our marks so we had to all work together.

4:  What are your weaknesses?

Answer: I have a hard time waking up so I liked the job ad which said that you have flextime (arrive whenever you want).  WRONG!

Better answer:  I tend to focus too much and work long and hard sometimes forgetting to rest or eat.  I will however work on this weakness because all work makes John a bore.

5: Can you summarise your strengths in one sentence?

Answer: Let me think about it for a bit. WRONG!

Better answer: I am a continuous learner, hard working, team player and always looking to the future and its possibilities.

6: Do you have any questions for me?

Answer:  How much do you pay for this job?  WRONG!  Never ever discuss salary in the first interview.  Most companies already have a pay scale for each job.

Better answer: I read in the news papers that your company is going through some restructuring and I am hoping you can tell me about that.

Notice that all the above has touched on presentation, preparedness, communication, organisational skills, team work, project management and delivery and knowing about the company.

Martha Leah Nangalama

Moncton, Canada


Find me on Facebook and Google+

If you need a sample of a 1 page CV since you are just a graduate, please request by emailing me.

The writer has experience in coaching people for interviews.

You can find many tips on CVs, Social Media guidelines, interviews, job search, etc. on my blog.

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