The key to alleviating the pressure and anxiety that build up prior to the job interview is to be prepared. The interview is not only for the company to see if you will be right but but also for you gain information about the job, ask question and get a feel whether the culture of the organisation is right for you.
Here are some tips to prepare yourself for the interview:
- Research the Company
Researching the company shows initiative, enthusiasm and a keen interest in the role. Company websites are the best source of information. Use them to research products and services, corporate details and recent company news. Ask your consultant to provide an insight into the company culture.
Read about the company before your interview; gain as much knowledge about the organisation, its products, culture and environment as possible. You can almost guarantee that you will be asked the question “What do you know about our organisation”. The more you can tell them, the more interest you are showing in the role and company by taking the time to do your research.
Research the Role
Think about the role and analyse the job description. Wherever possible, relate your skills and experience to the role requirements with specific examples. Focus on the skills you believe offer most value to your prospective employer. Always have practical examples ready to support your statements.
Read the job description thoroughly- know as much as you can about the position. If there are things that you are unsure about, write a list of questions to ask during your interview to clarify any grey areas. Be prepared for the question “What do you hope to achieve in your career by joining our organisation”
Be Prepared to Answer Their Questions
One of the best ways to prepare is to run through a few likely interview questions and practice your answers before the day.
Learn the “universal answer”. Most answers during the interview should be about one-to-two minutes long. Any longer and the interviewer will lose interest and consider you boring or self-centered, while a too-short answer will make you look superficial, incompetent, or lacking interest. Most candidates talk in generalities, but specific examples is far more convincing.
Make sure you have a list of insightful questions to ask, such as “What does the person in this job need to do to be considered successful, what’s the biggest problem that needs to be addressed right away, what kind of resources are budgeted already, why is the position open, and how have you developed your team members?
- Prepare your own questions
You should find out why the role became available, what you will be accountable for and how your performance will be measured.
Prepare ‘Open’ questions that begin with ‘What?’, ‘How?’, ‘Where?’, ‘Will?’ or ‘Who?’ should encourage your interviewer to talk and provide you with additional information. We recommend that you consider asking some of the following questions
Why is the position vacant?
Can you describe what a week would entail in this role?
How will you assess my performance? And how often?
What are the future plans for the organisation and how do you see me fitting in?
What training is provided?
What characteristics are you looking for in the successful candidate?
How soon will you decide on the successful applicant and what is the next step
It is essential that, to the best of your ability, you are prepared to answer some of the more common interview questions that we have listed below:
- Tell me about yourself. (The interviewer is really saying “I want to hear you talk”). Sell yourself and your greatest achievements.
This is a commonly asked question designed to ‘loosen’ you. Spend a maximum of five to ten minutes to describe your qualifications, career history and your range of skills. Emphasise those skills that are relevant to the job on offer.
- What have been your achievements to date? (The interviewer is saying, “Are you an achiever?”)
Again this is a common question so be prepared. Select an achievement that is recent. Identify skills you used in the achievement and quantify the benefit.
TIP: Write up two significant accomplishments. To improve your verbal pitches, prepare brief write-ups for your two most significant accomplishments. Most candidates get a little nervous in the opening stages of an interview, which can result in temporary forgetfulness. The write-ups will allow for better recall of this critical information.
- Tell me the most difficult situation you have had to face and how you tackled it? (The interviewer is really trying to find out your definition of “difficult” and whether you can show a logical approach to problem solving)
Select a difficult work situation that was not caused by you. Explain how you defined the problem and what solution you applied to overcome the problem.
- What are your strengths? (The interviewer wants a straightforward answer as to what you are good at and how it is going to add value)
This is one question you will certainly be asked, so there’s no excuse for being unprepared. Concentrate on discussing your main strengths. List three or four explanations of how they could benefit the employer. Strengths to consider include technical proficiency; ability to learn quickly; determination to succeed; positive attitude; team focus and your ability to work autonomously.
- What would you like further training on? (weakness) (The interviewer is asking about your self-perception and self-awareness)
This is another standard question for which you can be well prepared. Don’t say you don’t have any. We all have weaknesses. Either use a professional weakness such as a lack of experience (not ability) on your part in one area that is not vital for the job, or use a personal weakness and show the steps that you have taken to combat it. An example would be “I’m not very good at delegating but I’m learning to pass work on to colleagues by sitting down on a weekly basis and splitting the workload”.
- Why do you want to leave your current employer? (The interviewer is trying to understand and evaluate your motives for moving)
This should be straightforward. State how you are looking for more challenge, responsibility, experience and a change of environment and do explain why you feel you are no longer receiving these things from your current role. For example “I have been with my company for four years and feel I have learnt as much about their x function as possible and there is no opportunity for a more senior role at present”.
- Make sure you know how to get to the company, possibly even do a practice run the night before.
- Be sure to know the name and title of the person who will be interviewing you.
- Arrive in plenty of time and this will account for any unforeseen delays.
- Plan what you are going to wear. Always dress as smartly as possible, business suits, ensure shirts/blouses are well pressed and that your shoes are polished.
On the Day
- Ensure you are well presented, suitable to the brand and role you have applied for
- Ensure you look professional
- If you are going to be late call ahead and let the interviewer know
- Switch off your mobile phone.
- Be polite to the receptionist – she may be asked for her opinion; smile and introduce yourself. Use this time to relax and possibly look over any notes you may have made, alternatively read any company literature that may be presented to you.
In the Interview
- Have confidence in your research and preparation
- Try to relax, offer a firm handshake and introduce yourself.
- Wait to be offered a seat once in the interview room.
- Try to maintain eye contact, listen carefully and show interest in what your interviewer is saying.
- Do not fidget
- Use practical examples to illustrate your skills and show how they suit the role
- Take notes and perhaps write down any questions or points that you may wish to discuss later
- Do not swear or use slang
- Speak clearly – nerves can make you stumble over your words
- Do not bad mouth your previous employers
- If asked to be shown around the company, say yes, this will show interest on your part but also shows that the interviewers are interested in you
- Be courteous throughout the entire interview
After the interview
- Write down a short summary of the interview while it is still fresh in your mind
- Note the areas that you feel went well, as well as questions you may have found difficult to answer, this will help you prepare for a second interview
- Call your consultant to provide feedback – they will use this information to sell you to the employer again for the role
- If salary does come up you should ensure you share with the client the range that has been discussed with you by the consultant. If you are interested in the role share with client you would be keen to discuss package further.