I have a job interview next week. Do you have any tips on how I can prepare?
With the start of a new year, some people might be looking for a new job. It’s stressful being interviewed because you have no control over the questions that you will be asked. No control over something equals stress.
You can however prep. The very action of prepping can help relieve stress even if you don’t end up prepping for the questions you are actually asked.
Here are seven questions that I prep for whenever I go for a job interview. I’ve had around 12 job interviews so far and these questions have been asked at some of them.
Always put the focus on what you can do for the company ahead of what the company can do for you.
1. Tell me about yourself
I have worked in community practice, academic clinical practice, corporate practice, government clinics, academia, my own practice, specialist low vision practice, specialist learning difficulty practice, and domiciliary practice.
If my next job interview is for an academic post I will speak about my academic experience; publications, grants, classes taught, and feedback. If my next job interview is for a clinical role I will speak about my ability to communicate, how I make lens recommendations in the consulting room, and any subspecialties I have. I wouldn’t go on about my academic experience if the job is in clinical practice.
2. What is your biggest weakness?
Don’t bring up a serious weakness that could take you out of the running. And don’t respond with, ‘I don’t have any,’ as that sounds arrogant. Everyone has weaknesses. Aim for balance and honesty, and focus on what you’re doing to overcome the weakness. ‘I sometimes struggle to keep the consulting room tidy so I try hard to make sure I have put everything back in its place before I take the patient to the dispensing area.
3. How do you perform under stress?
Here, the interviewer is looking for insight into how you respond when things get tough. Try to answer with a positive, problem-solving spin. ‘I keep calm and ask for help if I can. I make a list of that day’s five top priorities and check them off as I get them done. I would talk to my manager about how stressful situations can be reduced. I self-reflect to see where I can be better.
4. Talk about a difficult situation at a previous job and how you handled it
Come up with a situation you faced that was clearly challenging — but also gives you the opportunity to showcase your professionalism and can-do attitude. Touch very briefly on the problem and place your main focus on your solution. “When I was junior A patient presented with what sounded like a retinal detachment. I did all the tests but could rule a retinal detachment in or out. None of the senior optometrists were available for advice. I phoned the local eye casualty and got advice from the on-call ophthalmologist.’
5. Why should we hire you?
Don’t be blasé and say because you are the best. Review your resume and pick out three of your achievements — items that really set you apart and make you the ideal choice for the job. ‘I know you’re looking for someone who can start without much training. I have five years of working in clinical practice and am familiar with all the equipment you use. I have experience in training others and could assist in training your junior staff. I believe this makes me a great fit for this position since I already have the experience and the training to get up to speed.’
6. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Talk about your professional aspirations and how they fit into the company for which you are interviewing. ‘I’m very interested in this job because I believe there are a lot of opportunities for me to grow and expand my skill set.’ Mention any training courses that you know the company offers. ‘In five years, I see myself leading a team with managerial responsibilities. I’ve heard that many of your employees have been promoted to managers after just a few years of working here, which I think is very exciting.’
7. What did you dislike about your last job?
Don’t criticize anything about your last job, your co-workers, or your boss. A lot of people in different eye care companies know each other. Bring the focus back to the present. ‘I enjoyed my last position but wanted more of a challenge. I felt I had advanced as far as I could go in the company. That’s why I’m looking for a position with a company with more opportunities for advancement.’
Run mock interviews with a friend as the interviewer. Practice answering these questions. Some might not come up but some might. Good luck.