OK, your CV did its job, now it is up to you. Your performance in the interview will hopefully secure you the role you want.
Many of the following principles may seem like common sense, however you would be surprised by the number of basic mistakes people make when interviewing.
Preparing for the interview
Preparation is essential for a polished, confident performance.
Clarify the interview details
- Where is the interview being held and at what time?
- Who will you be meeting and what is their position?
- Have you reviewed the interviewers LinkedIn profile – you may have connections in common?
- What is the format of the interview?
- Will there be a technical test?
Research your potential employer
- This can give you an insight into the qualities the client looks for in prospective employees.
- Check the company website and latest news online.
Understand the role you are being interviewed for
- Try and obtain a copy of the job description.
- Talk to your agent, find out the exact skills/profile the client is looking for.
Prepare a list of answers
Some of the most commonly asked questions in interviews are:
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Why should we employ you?
- Where do you want to be in 5 years?
- What is your greatest achievement?
You may also be asked certain competency/behavioural questions. Some examples of these questions are:
- Describe a situation in which you successfully persuaded someone to see things your way.
- Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
- Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
- Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
- Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someone's opinion.
- Give me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
- Please discuss an important written document you were required to complete.
- Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
- Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
- Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
- What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.
- Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
- Tell me about a difficult decision you've made in the last year.
- Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed.
- Give me an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead.
- Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
- Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
- Tell me about a time when you delegated a project effectively.
- Give me an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem.
- Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
- Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
- Tell me about a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision.
- Please tell me about a time you had to fire a friend.
- Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).
- Always answer in a concise manner, don’t spend five minutes answering one question, but at the same time avoid one word answers.
Prepare a list of questions
You will be given the opportunity to ask your interviewer(s) some questions. Make these count! Ask about the role, training, opportunities for you within the company and future growth of the company.
It is vital to make a good first impression when attending an interview. The first few minutes of an interview are vital.
Ensure you arrive at the office at least 15 minutes early. If you are running late, ensure you either contact the client direct or call your agent. Arriving early gives you the opportunity to get a feel for the company environment and go through any notes you may have prepared.
Dress in a smart business suit. Many companies have a casual dress policy, however it is imperative you dress in smart business suit.
Some Do’s and Don’ts for the interview
- Do take some spare copies of your CV
- Do shake hands firmly with your interviewer
- Do maintain eye contact with your interviewer throughout
- Do ensure you know can back up everything on your CV
- Do be calm, confident and assertive. Look alert and interested.
- Do ask open ended questions
- Do be honest if you don't know the answer
- Don’t make derogatory comments about your past employers
- Don’t lie, this will only catch up with you in the future
- Don’t answer questions with Yes or No
- Don’t waffle on and stray from the answer
Ending/Closing the interview
Thank the interviewer for their time and ask them if they have an idea when a decision will be reached on the position.
It is essential you call your agent straight after the interview to let them know how it went and your thoughts on the role and company. They will then be in a position to call the client to get their feedback and hopefully an offer!
Ensure you are not late for that interview
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Telephone Interview Tips
Planning and preparing for a telephone interview is as important as any other form of interview or meeting. The impression you create in the opening moments, and the manner with which you present yourself will determine whether or not you will be successful.
Find out as much as you can about the company and the job description.
Make a note of any questions you would like to ask.
Have a notepad and pen ready, along with your diary.
Have your CV at hand.
Tone of voice. This is the most important aspect of this form of interview. The detail is of very little importance - the manager has your CV, so they know exactly what you've done, and in all probability wouldn't be talking to you if they weren't essentially interested.
Prepare to answer these questions:
- Tell me about yourself?
- What do you know about our company?
- What are you looking for?
- What would you like to know about us?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What else would you like to know?
- Technical questions pertinent to the role