How to Prepare for Your Next Job Interview

There is nothing more impressive during the interview process than someone who comes in very prepared for a job interview and just nails the questions. 

I have been sitting through some management interviews for another department and thought I would share some questions that might be helpful for you to consider or practice the next time you are sitting down and facing the question of the firing squad for your next job or when you take your boss’s job.

Before We Start the Interview

Nothing irritates me more than someone who doesn’t bring any paper or pens to their interview. There is no way you can remember all the parts of a question being asked so write some things down instead of just saying, “now what was the second part of that question.” It is just a pet peeve of mine. You are the one selling yourself and not the other way around. Over-prepare and nail it!

Some of our favorite things questions that we do are scenario questions. (If you are interested in more of a regular job interview or entry-level or just starting out then check out these tips). But when we get to management and leadership interviews we like to see how someone critically thinks through a process and what experience they have had in tough situations.

So here we go:

  • The supervisor position is primarily responsible for half of the employees but also needs to have a strong understanding of the processes and functions of many other departments including regulations and human resources. As you consider these various disciplines, what are the areas that you may need further development in and what would you do to fill in the gaps in your current areas of expertise? (See why you need a pen and paper – more of a statement than a question)
  • Your manager has noticed that errors are increasing and you have been asked to look into the situation. How would you investigate, communicate the conclusion and what steps would you take to rectify the situation?
  • One of your employees does not seem to be succeeding in the department, their error rate is high, their output is low and they have been retrained repeatedly but are still struggling. How would you manage the situation?
  • What would you do when you have two employees who have very different personalities and are unable to work together without conflict which has started to interfere with others in the department?
  • You have to counsel and perhaps terminate an employee. It happens that you have been friends with this individual for many years outside the workplace. Describe how you would handle the situation.
  • This position will supervise a group who are often new to the workforce. How do you keep them motivated, professional, and engaged? What ideas do you have to address employee morale and turnover? What would be your onboarding process?
  • Communication of information to all employees can be an issue. How would you involve the staff in decisions and dissemination of important information? How would you handle a decision that you know is best for your employees despite their objection to the plan?
  • Describe how you would handle an employee who was technically superb and a high producer but was not contributing to a positive work environment.
  • Your team and position have a variety of complex workflows. Many are combined into other areas of the company. You decide to introduce a new process and your team decides that they are unhappy with the changes and want to go back to the old process because they feel like they are unsuccessful. How will you manage the situation and feedback on the new process?
  • You have an employee who comes to you making disparaging remarks about your department. What would you do with the information?
  • What has been a consistent strength of yours and what evidence do you have that it is a strength?
  • What is a recurrent problem in your current position that you would like to resolve and what are you doing to work on it?
  • Why should we select you for this position?

What Questions Do You Have?

Then we always end with “What questions do you have?” If the candidate says that they don’t have any questions, I almost stop considering them at that point. I mean really?! You are applying for a job but have no questions about the company at all? Nothing?

How about:

  • Is this a new position or a replacement for a prior employee?
  • What are you hoping the new candidate will accomplish when they are hired?
  • What do you see with this company and position in the next few years, 5 years, and 10 years?
  • What are some of the current challenges that you are facing in the department that you would like to resolve?

There are so many questions you could ask an employer. Really if you could turn the interview around so you start interviewing the other folks you will find out more information that will help you answer the questions better. I want someone who is engaged in the interview process. 

If you aren’t engaged in the interview then I’m not overly confident you will be engaged in your job. If you are going in to a leadership position then you need to lead from the front by example and not from behind by demanding people get their job done.

Another tactic that I have seen lately that has been kind of cool is that H.R. is giving candidates a scenario to work on ahead of time and to bring to the job interview to present for five minutes. Then once the presentation is done the person doing the interview says, “thank you for your presentation, now give me another right here on the spot.” 

That way they can see the candidate’s ability to plan something out when given time and also see how they react on the spot to an unexpected situation. Kind of interesting and something new that I haven’t seen before that is starting to pop up more often.

Good luck with your next job interview. You won’t need it because you will be overly prepared and will take over the interview by asking informative questions that will lead you to be the best candidate at the end of the day.

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