Job interviews are a precarious part of growing up. On the one hand, it’s a critical part of becoming an adult. Job interviews are the gateway to any career, sometimes even certain schools or programs making them pretty much unavoidable. On the other hand, job interviews can be stressful, nerve-wracking, and in my case, nauseating.
If you’re like me, then even the thought of a job interview makes you sick. And even though I’ve gotten better at calming my nerves before an interview, the actual process still stresses me out. Mostly because, as much as I prepare, I tend to get nervous and completely blank out during job interviews.
Until I created the one career-changing tool that has helped me master my nerves and allowed me to think on feet when I inevitably blank out.
And that is an Interview Questions Study Guide.
I also call this my situational cheat sheet but an Interview Questions Study Guide is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a study guide for job interviews. I began creating this a few years ago because I realized that I studied for exams and tests in school, why should I not treat an interview any differently?
Below, I’m going to outline how to create your own Interview Questions Study Guide, but if you want, you can also grab mine! After writing this article, I realized I wanted to share my own as well to help you get started. You can download the fillable PDF or Google Doc (that’s what I use) version depending on how you prefer to work.
Let’s get started on how to create your own Interview Questions Study Guide!
1. Track And List Out Every Interview Question You’ve Ever Been Asked
Interviews are tough. But if you strip them down to their core, an interview is essentially like an oral exam. There’s a person (or persons) that ask you questions and you do your absolute best to answer them.
So start finding out what those questions are is essential to passing the test. Personally, I’ve been on a lot of job interviews and I found it interesting what kind of questions I would be asked vs. what I would find online.
If you Google “interview questions” some of the most common ones are probably “What is your greatest strength/weakness?”
Maybe it’s just me, but I have never been asked that on an interview.
Most of the time, questions are more complex than that. But they will also vary greatly from interview to interview. Interview questions for a software developer will be much different to an interview questions for a teacher. The MLA Interview Questions Study Guide contains a few common questions that can be applied to any industry, but for the truly detailed questions in your industry and in your level of professionalism, you have to hear them to truly know. Googling questions is great! But it’s quite limiting because depending on the role and responsibility of the position, questions can vary deeply.
This is also particularly important in industries that are ever-changing like tech. If this is your first interview, then, of course, Google is one’s best friend. But if you’ve gone on multiple interviews, take the time to write down the questions they asked you. It can be tough right after an interview but write down the questions you were asked.
This will also prevent you from experiencing the post-interview hangover. Have you ever been asked a question in an interview, then blanked during the response and fumbled the answer only to walk out of the interview with the PERFECT response? Yes well, that regret is a post-interview hangover. When you realize what you could have said and done to ace that question instead of letting your nerves get the best of you. Believe me, this happens to me all the time which is why it I created this study guide.
2. Go Through Work Experience and Find Solid Evidence
After determining questions that will probably be asked in your interview, start pulling tangible evidence from your work experience to support the framework of your questions. While it is best to start with the experiences listed in your resume, it’s actually also okay to draw from experiences that are not listed.
Personally, I’ve worked and volunteered with a lot of organizations and I can’t (also shouldn’t) add every single thing I’ve ever done. My resume would be 10 pages long. So if you can’t find a specific example in response to a question, pull from other experiences.
For example, if you’ve listed your work experience and stated in a small section that you also volunteer with a local animal shelter, most employers are happy to take in that experience as well. Particularly if you are new into the workforce, you could answer a question about working with a difficult colleague with a situation where you had to work with a difficult classmate in a group project.
If you don’t have a specific way to answer the question from your previous job history, pull from volunteer experiences, classes you’ve taken, or even your earlier jobs that are not listed. Most employers are flexible in the fact that they may be looking for how your response to the question, not exactly which situation it was taken from. The only thing to avoid is from personal stories. While an example of a personal situation may fit – it’s still the first interview!
3. Use The STAR Method To Formulate An Answer
The STAR method is a formula for creating a concise and well-rounded answer to an interview question. I’ve found this particularly for me because when I get nervous, I tend to ramble and talk really quickly. Using the STAR method to create an answer is really helpful and this is how it breaks down:
|S – Situation||Define the context for the answer. Where did it take place? What project were you working on? What was the state of the work environment? Was there a difficult client or pressing deadline?|
|T – Task||Describe what your role was in the situation. What was your job in this situation? Were you given an assignment by your supervisor or a client? Did you take on a responsibility?|
|A – Action||Explain what you specifically did in this situation. What action did you take? If you were in a team role, specifically identify your roles and responsibilities and how you completed or actioned the task required.|
|R – Result||Conclude with what happened. How was the situation resolved? What did you learn? Highlight your accomplishments and your lessons.|
4. Write Down Your Questions And Create Answers
In point form, formulate the answers to these questions. I recommend giving a few examples for each question because in my experience, sometimes questions can be very similar. Try to have a variety of answers for each question – it will increase the chances of you remembering an answer for a question and it will allow you to give answers that highlight different work experiences.
5. Study, study, study!
Lastly, study these questions and answers like you would for an exam! You can even use the strategy to go early to an interview to study them ahead of time.
BONUS: Constantly Add New Experiences
Continually add to this every time you have a new professional learning experience or accomplish something big. This study guide literally writes itself if you add to it.
I had my first job when I was 16 years old. That means I’ve been in the working world for 11 years and a lot happens in those 11 years – it’s hard for me to remember everything I do or work on right when I get the call for an interview. So I continually add to it as I go. Every time I encounter a large problem or accomplish something at work, I add on to the sheet. For instance, I recently got the opportunity to act in a position that is 5 pay grades higher than my current role. It was just a temporary coverage, but I’m adding the experience and things I learned from role to my study guide so when I can refer to it down the road. It’s so easy for
I really recommend anyone that gets nervous during job interviews to create one for them self. It’s saved me so many times from blanking out or saying “ummmmm” until I can think of the first example off the top of my head.
Download your FREE Interview Questions Study Guide below.