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The Question:

I have been working in the information technology field for the past 15 years providing desktop and server support for a large company. I have recently been displaced and I am looking for another job. Can you give me some feedback regarding what type of interview questions I should expect and how they should be answered to highlight my experience and skills? It has been some time since I've been in a job interview and I'm feeling a bit rusty.

The Answer:

I am sorry to hear about your recent job loss. You are not alone in this situation. Many people in the IT field are facing job loss and career transition because of the current economic conditions.

It is common to feel rusty when you haven't had an interview in a number of years. Rest assured it is like riding a bike. You will remember how once you get back on the interview circuit.

Interviewing is all about being prepared, being confident, communicating clearly, building relationships, and indicating how you can meet your prospective employer's needs better than any of the other candidates.

You can expect a number of standard questions in any interview, such as: Why are you interested in this position and this company? How does your education and background prepare you for this position? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? How do you like to be supervised? How do you work as a team member? How do you handle stress? What is your leadership style? Where does this position fit in your career path? Where do you want to be in five years time?

Practice answering these questions clearly and concisely. Record on video your responses, watching your tone and language, and get feedback from friends and family. Be clear, concise and brief in your answers. When engaging with the interviewer, you will want to be calm and confident.

Also be prepared to talk about case scenarios or give examples for questions such as: How do you deal with conflict? How do you solve a customer's problem? Tell us about a project you led and what you learned from it. Tell us about when you were a member of a project team and what worked and what did not work.

Be prepared to give examples to back up your answers to these questions. Try the following format to keep yourself on track:

First, state clearly what the issue or challenge was. Then give a brief background to set the context for the interviewers. Do not give too much information or weed out the red herrings or the superfluous details they may give you in a case scenario.

Present the two to three options that you considered when approaching the challenge. Point out the pros and cons of each. Then indicate what action you took and why. Talk about what worked well and what did not work. Be prepared to talk about what you learned from the situation and what you would do differently next time.

At the end of the interview, indicate why you are the best candidate for the position and why you should be hired over applicants. Be succinct and to the point. Provide several clear statements of your strengths, experience, and talents that you will bring to the position.

Make sure you have fully researched the position and the company. And be prepared to ask questions at the end of the interview, to show your enthusiasm and engagement.

Bruce Sandy is principal of and Pathfinder Coaching & Consulting in Vancouver.

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