We send this guide to all of our candidates prior to their interviews with our clients.
Hopefully you will find this as useful as they do.
Things to Do Prior to Interview
- Research the organisation and business sector
- Carryout online research
- Prepare to answer standard questions
- Be ready with a few questions for the interviewer
- Ensure you know who will be interviewing you
- Check the format on the of the interview e.g. Personality/skill test
- Dress appropriately (shirt, tie, etc.)
- Read the CV and covering letter
- Check buses/trains/parking/petrol
At The Interview
- Turn up on time, be professional and above all be pleasant
- If it is a panel interview, make sure you talk to everyone – do not direct your answers at one or two people only
- Find out as much about the position as you can
- Be late
- Criticise current or previous employers
- Answer the question with another question
- Interrupt the interviewers
After the Interview
- Make a list of questions you answered well and those you answered poorly
- Learn from your mistakes
How to Improve Your Interview Technique
- Before The Interview
You have received an invitation for an interview – Congratulations! You are half way to success. You have been recommended by your consultant to the interviewers who are looking for the relevant skills, experience and the right type of personality to benefit their organisation. The next step is to prove how beneficial you are against probably many other equally good candidates.
Depending on the type of job take some time before hand to research about the job and organisation – what sort of products or services does the organisation produce? Is it a limited company/partnership? Are there any other branches? What reputation does the organisation have? What is its market? Who are the main competitors? Your consultant will be able to give you some more information.
Read through the list of qualifications, skills, experience and personal qualities required for the job and write down your own experience and qualities next to these. Most interviewers ask questions based on these and give marks out of ten for your compatibility to each point – obviously the more points you get the greater you chance of success.
- Market Yourself
Interviewers want to know how you can contribute to their organisation and what you would be like to work with – ‘Why should we pick this person? Can he/she cope with the work load? What can he/she do for us?’ It is up to you to convince the company that you are the best candidate for the job.
Speak in a strong clear voice with confidence. Avoid talking in a loud, soft spoken or monotonous voice. Use positive, assertive words and phrases rather than negative, passive or aggressive language. Avoid being sarcastic and moaning about anything at all (Including your current job). Never put yourself down – you are selling your character to your prospective employers, always present yourself as a capable, confident individual.
If you are asked about a skill which you do not have – be honest and say so – but volunteer to train in that skill and re-emphasise the skills that you do have. This will show that you are enthusiastic and are willing to learn for the position. Always cancel out negative answers with positive attributes.
Positive language to use – I am able to, I am capable of, I can, I haven’t had the opportunity to do that but I am willing to train for it/learn for it, I certainly enjoy a challenge.
Negative language to avoid – I think I can, I’ve been told that I can, some people think I’m…, I’m nervous, You should do this, I should do this, I can’t do that, I’m not very good at…
- Body Language
Your body language can speak volumes to an interviewer – without you even opening you mouth! Your body language must appear assertive and confident. Walk with a steady posture – head up. During the interview sit upright, legs together (uncrossed) and with hands together (unfolded). When you speak keep eye contact with each of your interviewers – do not look at only the person asking the questions. In a normal group conversation – this would be rude and the same applies to the interview. Your face should be expressive of the answers do not monotonously. Appear interested and nod occasionally. Relax! This may be difficult but remember everyone is nervous during interviews. It won’t be an interrogation or an ordeal unless you allow yourself to be stressed about it. This is less likely to happen if you go to the interview fully prepared.
- Strengths and Weaknesses
Many interviewers will still ask the age-old question ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’ It is fairly easy to list your strengths. Weaknesses, however, are a tricky situation – whatever weakness you say it must be seen as a strength. For example, you could say that you are impatient but it is in relation to getting your work done quickly and efficiently. This is then seen as a good point rather than saying something such as ‘I’m not very punctual!’
The following list gives example of strengths you could mention if appropriate….
- Able to work both independently and as part of a team
- Able to work on own initiative
- Enjoy a challenge
- Good organisational skills
- Communicate well with people at all levels
- Able to make quick and effective decisions
- Capable of working under pressure
During the interview rather than just stating these words and phrases as qualities give examples of having used then. For example, explain how you have used you organisational skills in your current or previous job or even in your general life. Any examples you discuss must have a positive outcome.
- Possible Questions You May Be Asked
All interviewers use basic questions so prepare your answers and practice – However, do not learn your answers word for word, it will seem unnatural and scripted during the interview – examples of these questions are….
- Tell us briefly about your present job – why are you leaving?
- What aspects of you job do you enjoy the most/dislike the most? Why?
- Tell us a bit about yourself? Strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- What do you see yourself doing in 5 years time?
- Why did you apply for this job? What was it that appealed to you?
- How do you deal with criticism/a large workload/strict deadlines?
- Possible Questions for You to Ask
It is always expected for the candidate to ask one or two questions at the end of the interview. You may genuinely have some questions you would like answered – always ask at least one question as a matter of good interview procedure.
You may like to find out more about a particular task that was mentioned in the job description but not discussed in the interview, the number of people you would be working with in the team/office, whether the working hours are flexible, if there is a pension scheme, any transport subsidies, training opportunities, commission-based salary.
- Final Preparations
The final preparation for the interview is to ensure you know all the details about the interview – the name of the interviewer, the time and venue and how you will get there. Do you know how long it will take to travel to the venue by car/walking/bus? Do you know what number buses travel there and at what time? Have you decided what you are wearing at the interview? It is always wise to try on your interview suit a couple of days before the interview.
- The Interview
The interview date has arrived and hopefully you won’t be too nervous! Arrive at the interview approximately 15minutes before the time given. NEVER be late for an interview. If you know you are going to be late due to transport problems phone the organisation and inform them of your expected arrival time. An interviewer will make an impression of you within the first minute of meeting you – so this is a crucial time.
When you meet your interviewer walk with an upright body posture and shake his or her hand firmly.
Do not sit down until you are told to do so – always allow the interviewer to start proceedings.
The interview takes part in 5 stages.
- Discussion about the organisation and job vacancy
- Candidate is asked questions about their current/previous jobs, the suitability for the vacancy, personal questions. Also this is the time for the what would you do if…? Questions.
- The opportunity for the candidate to ask questions
- The next step: Interviewer will say when and how the candidate will hear of the interview result
The interviewer will usually contact your consultant first.
When leaving the interview thank the interviewer and shake his/her hand. After the interview phone your consultant and let them know how it went.
Interview Preparation Questions
Review the following questions. In as much objective detail as possible, create a unique response for each one.
Hint: Don’t oversell yourself – stick to the facts and tell the story.
Share insights gained and professional lessons learned when possible. Try to quantify your statements. (i.e. “As a result of our efforts, we increased sales by XX%.”)
- Tell me about your greatest accomplishment on the job.
- Tell me about a difficult situation you encountered at work and how you overcame it.
- Give me three adjectives you would use to describe yourself and examples of your work style to support them.
- Give me three adjectives you would use to describe your weaknesses/areas for improvement and the reasons why you feel you need to work on these.
- If I was to ask a co-worker about you, how would they describe you on-the-job?
- Tell me about a time where you were required to work with a difficult person (i.e. client, co-worker, manager, etc.). How did you handle the situation? What was the outcome?
- If you were given a task to complete in an unrealistic time frame, what would you do?
- If someone came to you with an enthusiastic, yet unrealistic request, how would you handle it?
- Why are you looking to leave your current position?
- What do you want to get out of your next job?
- Tell me about the best manager you ever had? Now tell me about the worst?
- What are the three most valuable things you’ve learned while working in your current position?
- What was the biggest mistake you’ve made on a job? How did you handle the failure?
- What do you feel makes you successful in your current role? Give an example to support your success.
- What do you think makes a company good to work for? What do you like about your current company? What could be better?
- Do you prefer working alone or in teams? Give examples of how you have worked successfully both alone and in a team? What do you attribute your success to?
- What are your own business philosophies – what do you feel must be present in a successful business?
- What skills are you looking to develop in your next job? Why?
Questions to Ask
Take a moment to look at the questions below. Re-write them in your own words so you can ask them in interviews.
Hint: Never, ever ask about money or benefits in the initial interview. It’s important to focus questions on the interviewer, then the company, and finally on you.
Step 1: Connect With the Interviewer
- How did you join the company? What makes you stay?
- What has this company taught you?
Step 2: Learn About the Work Environment
- What makes the department I’d be working in successful?
- I’ve done my homework on the company, but I’d love to hear you describe the corporate culture here in your own words?
- What makes this a great place to work? And since no company is perfect, what could be improved upon?
- What traits do you feel a person needs to be successful at this company?
- Can you give me an example of a recent hire that has been successful?
- How does the company measure its success? What evaluation criterion do they use?
- What are the three greatest strengths of this company? What are the three greatest strengths of the department I’d be working in?
- What are the three biggest challenges the company faces this year? And for the department I’d be working for?
Step 3: Ask for Feedback
- If I could add/change anything about myself and my experience to make me a better fit for the position and the company, what would it be?
- What are the next steps in the hiring process?
If you would like further help then please call us on 0131 331 1500 or register with us for future at firstname.lastname@example.org.