Interview Preparation

Interviews are an integral part of your job search; it is the ultimate opportunity to sell yourself on a face-to- face basis. They should not be viewed as a one-sided interrogation with relentless questioning; rather they should be experienced as an open forum for two-way information flow. Preparation is the first essential step towards a successful interview. There is no excuse for a candidate possessing little or no information about the company with whom they are interviewing.

The Interview

No two interviewers have the same style, let them take control of the flow but ensure that you display honesty, enthusiasm and warmth.

  • Prior to your interview complete your due diligence on the company, understand its products and services, its recent business growth, plant or office locations and future growth opportunities. This information is usuallyaccessible from documents and publications such as the company’s annual report, corporate website or business publications.
  • During the interview, you will be assessed on your strengths and weaknesses. In addition to this, specific personal characteristics will be probed, such as attitude, aptitude, stability, motivation and maturity.
  • After the interviewer has asked about your previous experience, specific skills and competencies and delved into your strengths and weaknesses, it is then opportune to talk about the specific role.
  • Ensure that you have a number of well thought out and relevant questions to ask about the role.
  • Is this a newly created position?
  • Why has the position become available?
  • How would you describe the corporate culture?
  • What are the company’s plans for future development?
  • Is there an induction or training programme for new recruits?
  • What is the next step?
  • Do not initiate discussions on remuneration at the first interview stage; however be open and honest if asked.
  • When dealing with interview panels maintain eye contact with all equally, even if one individual is doing the majority of the talking.
  • This is a good time to reiterate any strengths/experience that you feel would add to your candidature for the role.
  • If you are interested in the position enquire about the next interview stage.
  • If the interviewer offers the position to you and you want it, be prepared to accept it there and then, although his is more typical for contract and temporary roles. If you wish for some time to think it over, be tactful and courteous in asking for that time.
  • Leave the interviewer with a good final impression, smile and give a firm handshake. Do not make the mistake of relaxing too early and undoing all your previous hard work.

Interview Do’s

  • Arrive on time, greet the interviewer by his or her title and surname and shake hands firmly.
  • Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair and look alert and interested at all times.
  • It is very important that you demonstrate your interpersonal skills during the interview. Try to be charismatic without being overly friendly.
  • Be a good listener as well as a good talker.
  • Look the interviewer in the eye and smile, let them feel that you are enjoying the process whilst taking it seriously.
  • Follow the interviewer’s leads and make sure that your good points get across to the interviewer in a concise, factual and sincere manner.
  • Conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. Remember you cannot reject a job that you are not offered.

Interview Don’ts

  • Try not to be too friendly and do not answer questions with a simple ”yes” or ”no”. Explain yourself whenever possible.
  • Conversely do not ”over answer” questions, make your comments relevant and to the point.
  • Do not lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and as close to the point as possible.
  • Avoid making derogatory remarks about your present or former employers.
  • Try not to use the term “we” when you are talking about your own achievements and avoid making very general statements that lack any real substance.

Questions to expect

Before attending an interview you should think of the questions you might be asked, in today’s market place you will be expected to answer traditional questions and behavioural based questions. When answering questions a golden rule to remember is “Honesty is the best policy”, answer questions as honestly and precisely as possible. And remember preparation will significantly help reduce stress and enable to feel confident in your answers.

Examples of traditional questions:

  • Why are you looking to leave your current role?
  • What kind of role are you seeking?
  • Why did you choose this particular career path/field?
  • Why would you like to work for this organisation?
  • What interests you about our products/service?
  • What did you do in your previous role? What did you enjoy the most/least about it?Accomplishments? Strengths/ Weaknesses?
  • What do you want to be doing in your career in five years from now?
  • How do you handle criticism of your work?

Notes on behavioural based questions:

  • Behavioural based questions focus on “core skills” that is those specific skills and behaviours that are needed to succeed in a role. They can include; knowledge, skills, abilities and personal traits.
  • Answers that you provide are matched to specific role requirements, business objectives and company culture.
  • Remember that you are being asked to provide the interviewer with specific examples of a situation that you were involved in. Don’t give general answers.
  • Choose an example that you remember clearly, it is important that you remember as many details of the example you provide.

Examples of behavioural based questions:

Coping with pressure:

Describe a time when you were faced with problems or stresses at work that tested your coping skills. What did you do?

Problem solving:

Give me an example of a time you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision?
Give me an example of a problem you faced on the job, and tell me how you solved it?
Can you tell me about a time you were able to anticipate a problem?
How did you know the problem was likely to occur?
What did you do? How effective was your action?

Drive and motivation:

Can you give me an example of an important goal you had to set?
Tell me about your progress in reaching that goal?
What motivates you to put forward your greatest effort?

Handling conflict:

Tell me about a situation in the past year in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker?
What is your typical way of dealing with conflict?
Can you give me an example?

Team work:

Describe a contribution you have made to a project on which you have worked on?
Describe an occasion when you had difficulties working in a team?
What caused the problems? How did you respond? What was the outcome?

Time management:

Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritise your tasks?
Give me an example of when you had to work to an important deadline?

After the interview:

Immediately after the interview call the relevant consultant at Solution Recruitment to discuss how you feel it went, what you did well, what you wish you had done differently and how interested you are in the role. This is a chance for the consultant to provide extra feedback to the client to further establish your suitability for the role.