To be great at interviewing is a valuable skill regardless of your criminal background. It often takes a lot of preparation to get in front of a hiring manager and explain your criminal record. It can be also an exhausting and stressful process, but it gets easier and you will feel more prepared every time. We’ve talked about how to explain your criminal record to an employer, but it is only one part of the interview. Here are some tips on how to be the most prepared for your interviews from the beginning till the end.
1. Understand the job you are applying for
The first step is to understand the position you are applying for inside and out. This will help you focus your communication on the value you can bring to the company. Typically, job postings will have a list of expectations or requirements for the position. Take time to thoroughly read the job specifications before the interview to better understand the skills the interviewers are looking for. You should also know the company’s mission and values. When the interviewers ask you questions, you should be able to tie your answers back to the position for which you’re applying and the company's "big picture" mission. Most company websites have an "About Us" section that provides great information regarding the employer's goals and vision. Familiarize yourself with this information and work it into your responses whenever possible.
2. Be prepared for common interview questions
You won’t be able to predict all the questions the interviewer is going to ask you. With enough preparation, there are some common interview questions that you can answer in a professional manner, allowing the employer to see that you take the interview seriously and you are eager to get the position. In addition, thinking about your questions beforehand can help you feel more collected, in case you get nervous.
Common interview questions:
Tell me about yourself.
Why do you want to work at this company?
What are your greatest strengths?
What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
Why do you want to leave your current job?
What are you looking for in a new position?
Behavioral questioning, which quickly exposes whether the candidate has the right skills or not, has become very popular for interviews. These questions are meant to highlight real-life situations and reflect on what you learned from them. These questions can be:
Tell me about a time when you made a mistake, and how you handled it.
Tell me about a time when you failed, and how you reacted.
Tell me about a challenge or conflict you faced at work, and how you dealt with it.
3. Ask questions
It is common for interviewers to ask you if you have any questions. This is not a trap; you absolutely should ask at least two or three questions. In fact, not asking questions can make it seem as if you are not all that interested in the position. They know that anyone who is truly excited about the position should have some questions. You can think about your questions beforehand, and it is a good idea to write them down so you can keep track of them during the interview. Always come prepared with more questions than you think you'll need since many of them will likely have already been covered during the interview process and won't need to be asked again.
Ask open-ended questions like:
Can you tell me more about the training?
What does a typical day look like?
What is your company culture like?
What are the biggest challenges someone can face in this role?
How is feedback provided?
Are there opportunities for advancement?
What are the next steps in the interview process?