Get Ready For Your Job Interview

People who want to be successful plan and prep. So, if you find yourself looking for interview prep tips you’re in the right place. My first ever job was as a stock assistant in a

People who want to be successful plan and prep. So, if you find yourself looking for interview prep tips you’re in the right place.

My first ever job was as a stock assistant in a supermarket. That taught me lots of things that I’d never have learned in school, such as dealing with the public and how to juggle things with a profit in mind.

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Then a vacancy arose on the checkouts and I applied for it and got it. I enjoyed that more because there was a lot more customer interaction and it made a nice break from all the GRE revision I was doing at the time. I think it might even have helped because my results were better than some of my friends who gave up their part-time jobs to study full time.

I think a first job instills a good work ethic for young people—that if you want something, you have to work for it.

The important thing here is to tie in the concepts of a first job setting the tone for a good work ethic and an ability to multitask.

Sadly, starter jobs for early teens, such as a paper round, seem to be on the wane. If you’ve never had such a job, you are at a distinct disadvantage. It is therefore vital you make it clear that you still have a lot to learn, but that you can’t wait to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. This, for a recent graduate, will be more impressive than pointing out all the proxies for your abilities, such as your degree, your dissertation, your university, what you’re reading or what your mother or father does for a living. None of those things matter much to your employer.

And if you’re one of the few people whose first job became a career, it might be overegging it to say that you knew from an early age that that line of work was what you wanted to do with your life, but you could legitimately say it’s kept you happy all this time.

The bottom line: there’s no such thing as a bad first job. They’re all useful.

Who do you admire and why?

The Real Question: What are your fundamental values?

Top-line Tactic: The why is more important than the who—make sure you show you value something the company values too.

When an interviewer asks about role models, what they really want to know is what qualities you value in other people, but also in yourself. For this reason, the “why” half of this question counts a lot more than the “who.” Select someone who will highlight personal qualities that you admire, but which are also likely to prove valuable in the particular role you are applying for.

Going for a management position? Then select a great leader. Applying for an entry-level role that might give you a shot at working your way to the top? Then make it clear you’re willing to learn. If you’re a nurse, perhaps focus on empathy and service.

Whether you choose someone everyone knows, an obscure historical figure, or someone you know personally, it’s more about the spin you give your answer than anything else.

If you choose someone widely admired, such as Nelson Mandela, your answer is unlikely to stick in the interviewer’s mind or sound terribly personal or convincing. It probably won’t kill your chances of getting the job, but it won’t advance them much either.

Name a second-century Persian military leader that an Oxford don would have to look up and you run the risk of coming across as trying far too hard—unless, of course, you can back up your choice with a truly compelling story. Anyone controversial can also present pitfalls. If you choose a modern politician, for instance, be aware that you might be thought of as revealing your political affiliation, an affiliation the interviewer might not share.

Many people admire their parents or other close family and friends. It’s perfectly acceptable—perhaps even charming—to choose your mom, but again, make sure you explain why she’s a personal hero to you in a way that maps onto the requirements of the job, such as:

I would say my mom because she’s brought up four children on her own, running her own B&B. She was a great example of determination in the face of hardship and the value of hard work to me.

Be warned that mothers and fathers are a very popular choice of answer here—don’t pick them unless you have a very well-thought-through answer, else you risk making the interviewer’s eyes glaze over.

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