Tools & Resources - Prepare for an interview
Congratulations on securing a face-to-face interview with our client! We are keen to provide you with all the support you need to perform at your best and we have outlined below a number of tools and techniques which you may find useful.
The two key elements to successful interviewing are:
Preparation is essential and greatly enhances your chances of performing well at any interview.
Here are some tips on interview preparation:
- Ensure your Client Manager has provided you with a detailed understanding of the position description, the team environment and the organisation
- Conduct additional research regarding the organisation through viewing their website. Understand its products/services, size, locations, financial situation and growth potential
- Dress conservatively and pay attention to all facets of your dress and grooming
- Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer’s full name and the correct pronunciation and his/her title
- Spend 30 minutes reviewing your resume/experience and it’s relevance to the position description. Identify the specific examples in your background that are directly relevant to the position description and that demonstrate your ability to do the job. Refresh your memory regarding details of present and past employers and your work history in their companies. You will be expected to know a lot about a company for which you have previously worked. Pay particular attention to how you will describe your most important achievements.
- Do not take a copy of your CV and read from it or refer to it during the interview – this is your experience so written notes should not be necessary
- Be prepared to convey to the interviewer: why this role appeals to you, why they should consider you for this role and what makes you a bit different from other candidates
- Prepare the questions you will ask during the interview. Remember that an interview is a two way street. The employer will try to determine through questioning if you have the qualifications necessary to do the job. You must determine through questioning whether the company will give you the opportunity for the growth and development you seek.
Here are examples of probing questions you might ask:
- What would a normal day in this role look like?
- Why is the position available?
- How would you describe your organisational culture?
- What induction and training programs does the organisation offer?
- What sort of people have done well in this team/organisation?
- How is the company positioned against its competitors?
- What is this vision for the future? What are the plans, if any, for growth or expansion?
- What is the next step in the process?
Preparing for the Structure and Style of the Interview
Competency Based Interviews
Competency based interviews are the most prevalent style of interviewing.
Competency based interviewing, also known as behavioral interviewing requires you to draw on past experience and describe specific examples of incidents that demonstrate your competence in a particular area. The most effective way of answering these questions is to use the “STAR” technique:
Situation – briefly describe the background to the situation
Task – specifically describe your responsibility
Action – describe what you did
Result – describe the outcome of your actions.
Here is an excellent answer to a competency-based question which is testing teamwork as competence:
Question: “Team work is very important in our organisation. What evidence do you have to prove that you are a good team player?”
Answer: “I have a number of examples I could share with you. In one instance, when I was working as a financial analyst at ABC Company, the sales team were putting together a bid for a large piece of work and the analyst that normally helps them was on leave. I offered to help them and worked late every night for 2 weeks to ensure they had all the information they needed. They took on my suggestions regarding pricing and also some creative ideas I had on formatting the proposal. As it turned out we won the bid and I was promoted as a result”.
You maybe required to provide between one and three real-life examples to validate one particular competence.
Be Prepared with Answers and Supporting Examples to Standard HR Questions such as:
- What are your career aspirations?
- Why do you want to work for our company?
- What interests you about our product/service?
- Of your previous jobs, which did you enjoy most and why?
- How have you managed conflict in the past?
- Describe what you have done in your career that shows your initiative.
- What are your weaknesses? Your strengths?
- What does teamwork mean to you?
- What style of management gets the best from you?
- What have been your major achievements to date?
Remember that you are being interviewed because the interviewer wants to hire somebody – not because he/she wants to trip you up or embarrass you. Through the interaction which takes place during the interview, he/she will be searching out your strong and weak points, evaluating you on your qualifications, skills and intellectual qualities and he/she will probably probe deeply to determine your attitudes, aptitudes, stability, motivation and maturity.
Your Style and Behaviour
During your interview, the employer will be evaluating your total performance, not just your answers. Listed below are some factors and mannerisms that will usually produce a positive reaction from a prospective employer.
- Interested balanced approach
- Ability to express thoughts clearly
- Career planning and objectives
- Informative replies
- Tact, maturity, courtesy
- Maintenance of eye contact
- Firm handshake
- Intelligent questions about the job
- Preparation and knowledge of the company/industry
- Enthusiasm for the role and the organisation
- Positive, “can-do” attitude
- Plan to arrive on time or a few minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable, but don’t arrive TOO early. 5 minutes is perfect. 10 minutes or more can catch clients off-guard in relation to room bookings etc.
- Greet the interviewer by his/her Christian name.
- Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair. Look alert and interested at all times. Be a good listener as well as a good talker. Smile.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Follow the interviewer’s leads but try to get the interviewer to describe the position and the duties to you early in the interview so that you can relate your background and skills to the position.
- Make sure that your good points get across to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner. Keep in mind that you alone can sell yourself to an interviewer. Make him/her realise the need for you in his/her organisation. Smile.
- Always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. Never close the door on an opportunity. It is better to be in the position where you can choose from a number of jobs rather than only one.
- Answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no”. Explain whenever possible. Tell those things about yourself, which relate to the position.
- Lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and as much to the point as possible.
- Ever make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers or companies.
- “Over-answer” questions. Answer the question and then stop talking. If you think you haven’t quite hit the mark or perhaps they were looking for something more in a question, feel free to say “did I cover everything you wanted there?”
- Get too much off the track of the core interview. An interviewer may steer the conversation into politics or economics but since these can be sensitive topics with strong opinions involved, it is best to answer the questions at hand, be honest and try not to say more than is necessary.
- Let your discouragement show. If you get the impression that the interview is not going well and that you have already been rejected, don’t show discouragement or alarm. Once in a while an interviewer who is genuinely interested in your possibilities may seem to discourage you in order to test your reaction.
- Enquire about salary, bonuses or holidays at the first interview unless you are positive the employer is interested in hiring you and raises the issue first. However, you should know your market value and be prepared to specify your required salary or range.
Closing the Interview
If you are interested in the position, make sure you:
Thank the interviewer for his/her time and consideration of you. Make sure you have done all you can if you have answered the two questions uppermost in his/her mind:
- Why are you interested in the job and the company?
- What can you offer and can you do the job?
After the Interview
Last but not least, call the Client Manager at Beyond Services who referred you to the position immediately after the interview and describe how the interview went. He/she will want to talk with you before the interviewer calls and will appreciate the courtesy of your feedback. If you are interested in progressing further it will assist if your feelings towards the position are known, together with your perception of what the client’s reaction is likely to be. Finally, relax – you have now done all you can!
Even if an interviewer gives you their business card, there is no need to engage in direct contact with the interview panel – often business cards are given but generally the client will want all communication being run through Beyond Services.