By Fiona Mitchell, PhD
How long do we all spend writing job applications? We take care to use perfect wording, and then we proofread, review, and revise extensively before sending the application for consideration. But when it comes to job interviews, many of us hardly prepare at all! "I'll just wing it," we say. "A potential employer could ask me anything and preparing for every eventuality is impossible, right?"
Not so, says Scott Morgan, an expert in training people to present themselves effectively. He believes that interviewers tend to stick to variations of 10 common questions and that recognizing these questions is the key to being a successful candidate. If you are able to recognize the type of question you are being asked then it is immediately clear what type of answer the interviewer expects to receive.
At the Interviewing Skills workshop, Scott encouraged us give the interviewer a “snapshot” rather than a long story in our answer. For example, if we are asked about our early life, a list of places we lived and schools we went to, and so-on, would be less meaningful than if we chose a single memorable experience to talk more deeply about. He also encouraged us to assign a single image or word trigger to enable us to answer each of the question types.
Scott’s workshop was very helpful and practical. To master interview techniques, participants discussed their ideas and attempted to answer questions real time. The group then offered helpful feedback. Grab a friend and practice for yourself with these top ten interview topics!
The Top Ten Interview Topics (and what you should think about):
- Personal background (This generally refers to ages 0-18)
- Academic background (ages 18 through the present)
- Early scientific motivation (Why you are a scientist)
- Specific field motivation (Why you are in this particular field)
- Current work (The big picture)
- The 5-year plan (Realistic future in the new position)
- Your Strong point (How your strengths will be an asset)
- Weak point (What you will do to improve weaknesses)
- Why you? (Why and how do you do what you do)
- Hypothetical questions (Describe a stepwise process to reach a goal)