Catherine's Career Corner

May 12th, 2013
Ace Your Job Interview!











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How do you ace your job interview? To ace your job interview, you need the 3Ps – Plan, Prepare and Practice!

Group of employment recruitment officers

“People who don’t do their research, don’t study and don’t practice for their interview, most often don’t get hired,” – Vicki Walch

Written by Catherine Adenle

Job interviews can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Nevertheless, after writing countless CVs, cover letters, and job applications, it’s thrilling that you have finally secured a job interview. Perhaps it is a promotion within your current company or a new position elsewhere. This could be a new position offering more money, perks or perhaps more responsibility. In any case, you want to put your best foot forward, make the right impression and ace the job interview. Now you hope that you interview well by impressing the hiring manager.

As far as job interviews go, the more thorough your preparation, then the more effective your presentation will be.

It is a fact that most people are nervous about participating in a job interview. As there are no second chances when it comes to making that first impression, so you better be prepared to ace the job interview and get hired. As far as job interviews go, the more thorough your preparation, then the more effective your presentation will be. Here are some job interview tips to help you prepare to interview effectively.

This is the order of things you need to do for you to ace your job interview:

  • Read the job interview invitation letter carefully
  • Highlight the day and time of your job interview
  • Also note where the job interview is taking place, do a dry run of the interview venue to know how long it will take you to get there on the day
  • Make an entry in your diary, Outlook calendar or smart phone
  • Read through the job specification or outline and ensure that you understand the role
  • Know who is going to interview you, if it’s not in the letter, you can call the writer of the letter instead and politely ask for clarifications.
  • There is no harm in doing this; it only shows that you are proactive and that you are enthusiastic about the job. Ask these questions:
  • What kind of interview is it likely to be? (Check types of interviews below).
  • Ask if you are expected to prepare for any other tests?
  • Then, get your research head on and research the company on the Internet, go through the information on their websites, know their products, the services they provide, check for their press releases, the names of higher management team members and what they are responsible for in the company
  • Prepare a list of likely questions (see below) and add the best possible answers to the questions
  • Record your well-crafted answers to the likely job interview questions using the recording functionality on your smartphone and listen to them every free time you have. Then, practice by asking someone else to ask you the questions while you give the answers. Go over this several times until the answers roll off your tongue. This will allow you to remember the answers on the day.
  • Get your skills portfolio together, prepare a list of your achievements and reference letters ready in a presentable binder
  • Prepare your best interview outfit in readiness

Now, let’s focus on different types of job interview formats. There are many types of job interviews and they all serve diverse purposes.  Knowing what to expect can help you to ace any job interview.

11 Steps

Types of Job Interviews

Informational Interview: The objective of this job interview is to learn more about you, your skills and for the interviewers to tell you about their organization and the job.

Telephone or Video Screening Interview: A phone or video job interview is the most cost effective way to screen candidates.  For this, it’s advisable to have your CV, the job description, some prepared answers to challenging questions and the company information and your references list in front of you.  As they can’t see your body language if it is a phone interview, it is important to give great answers with an enthusiastic tone and be sure to ask what the next step is after the interview.

Via video, be sure to dress professionally and keep eye contact at all times. Your body language, posture and facial expressions are usually watched. For both types of job interviews, make sure there is nothing distracting or unprofessional in the background, such as meowing cat, barking dogs or a crying child.

Formal Face to Face On-Site Interview: This is the most common type of job interview. It is typically a face to face questions and answers session at the organization’s office.  Usually you will need to use specific examples to support your answers. Again, your body language, posture and facial expressions are usually watched.

Task Oriented Interview: This is a problem-solving job interview where you will be given some exercises to demonstrate your leadership, creative and analytical abilities.  You may be asked to take a short psychometric test to evaluate your technical knowledge, IQ and skills.

Group Interview: One of the most stressful scenarios involves the group interview. This is your chance to show how you work in a team so just don’t make everything all about you. For this, build on something someone else has said in the conversation and include others in the conversation, be collaborative. Remember; don’t step on someone else when they are expressing an idea.

Panel Interview: For this, you will meet a number of stakeholder or decision makers at once.  This can be an intimidating experience if you are not prepared enough.  It’s an effective way to interview candidates. It’s important to make eye contact with all the interviewers, no matter who asked the question.

The Lunch Interview: This type of interview gives the employer a chance to assess your communication and interpersonal skills as well as your table manners! So make sure you order your food wisely, don’t order messy dishes. The focus shouldn’t be the oily spot on your shirt.

Don’t order any food that you eat with your hands or alcoholic drink and make sure you don’t spill your drink.

Stress Interview: This is rare; for this, the interviewer tries to bait you in order to see how you will respond.  The objective is to find your weaknesses and test how you hold up to pressure.

Behavioural-Based Interview: The theory behind this is that past performance in a similar situation is the best predictor of future performance.  This delves deeper than traditional job interview techniques.  For this, you must think of specific examples that demonstrate your competence in important job skills area such as problem-solving, communication, teamwork, flexibility etc.  You must always use the STAR – Situation, Task, Action and Result or PAR — Problems, Actions and Results method to answer these types of questions. How did you determine the problem? What was the action you took? What were the final results?

The Sequential Interview: These are several interviews where you take it in turn with a different interviewer each time. Usually, each interviewer asks questions to test different sets of competencies.

The Second Interview: This is when you are asked back for another interview after the individual face to face on-site interview. They must like you enough that you made the first round of cuts, but they would like to know more about you before making their final decision.  Usually, this is the last step before an offer is made. All these types of interviews can take on different question formats, so once you’ve checked with your potential employer which type of interview you’ll be attending, it’s time to get prepared!

Look at the copy of your CV that you sent to the organization, consider your skills that are linked to their requirements and go through the evidences that will showcase those skills. Remember that your skills won you the interview in the first place, now while sitting in front of them; it is your opportunity to use the skills as part of the main agenda in your interview. Recruiters will find this consistency very reassuring.

Job Interview Questions

Write down your answers to these ‘Top 25 Job Interview Questions’ and practice them.

  1. Can you talk me through your CV?
  2. Tell me about yourself?
  3. Why are you the best person for this role?
  4. What relevant experience do you have for this role?
  5. What challenges are you looking for in a position like this?
  6. Tell me about your greatest accomplishments in your last or current job.
  7. Can you give me three adjectives you would most use to describe yourself and give me examples of how you applied them to your work? (that’s the ‘what are your strengths?’ question)
  8. What would you like to improve about yourself? (that’s the ‘what are your weaknesses?’ question)
  9. If I ask your manager about you, how would he or she describe you to me?
  10. Tell me about a disagreement you once had with your manager and how you resolved it?
  11. Why are you looking to leave your current position?
  12. What would be the first thing you do if you get this job?
  13. Tell me about the best and the worst manager you ever had
  14. How do you handle stress on the job?
  15. What was the biggest mistake you’ve made on a job? How did you handle the failure?
  16. What do you feel makes you successful in your current role? Give an example
  17. 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?
  18. Tell me about a difficult situation you encountered at work with a colleague and how you dealt with it.
  19. What are the three most valuable lessons you’ve learned during the course of your career?
  20. What’s your salary expectation?
  21. What do you bring to a team?
  22. What’s do you see as the most challenging aspect of this role?
  23. How do you prioritise your work?
  24. Where do you see yourself in another five years if you get this role?
  25. Do you prefer working alone or in teams? Give examples of how you have worked successfully both alone and in a team?

See Interview Questions and Answers

 Practice

Practice answering the above questions with your responses. Think of actual examples that you can use to describe your skills. Be prepared to provide evidences of your successes as this will go a long way to promote your candidacy. Get someone to do a mock interview with you or record yourself answering the questions and play it back. Also have a list of your own questions to ask the employer ready.

 The Interview

Get enough sleep the night before the interview so that you can feel refreshed and you don’t yawn at the interview. Don’t be late and don’t complain about the bad traffic on the way to the interview. The hiring manager drives through it every day and he won’t feel sorry for you in any way.

Stay Calm

During the job interview try to relax and stay as calm as possible. Take a moment to regroup. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Listen to the entire question before you answer and pay attention – you will be embarrassed if you forget the question!

Stand Out

The only way to get a job is to stand out (for the right reasons) from the sea of other job seekers. In a sea of horses, you better be a Unicorn! You have to show passion, enthusiasm and a depth in knowledge.

Focus

Focus more on what you can do for the company, rather than what they can do for you. Above all, look to showcase your skills or Prime Selling Points.

No Negativity

Under no circumstances should you complain about your current or past managers or companies you have worked with, even when the interviewer themselves do so. If you complain about your past employers, you would complain about future ones too.

See Smash the Interview and Get Hired

Your Own Questions for the Interview Panel

Immediately after your job interview, the interviewers will always ask if you have questions for them. Create the right impression by preparing at least two clever questions like the ones below. Waste no further opportunities to promote your keenness at securing the job. Get a question from your research into the company and its activities, and strongly connect it to your skills.

What’s the best way to show a recruiter you should get the job? Spin the interview into a conversation among two professionals, says Martin Yates, author of “Knock ‘Em Dead: Job Interview.” Try asking questions like these two:

“What are the biggest challenges in this position?”

“What sort of result do you need to see from me in six months or one year?”

Your question can also concern future training, technical matters, new products or anything to demonstrate your ability and illustrate your skills.

They will also ask if there anything else that you’d like to know.

This is where you give your leaving statement. It is important to prepare the scene for getting off the interview chair.

See the 60 Things You Should Never Say During a Job Interview

Closing Statement

Visualize gathering your belongings, rising with a smile, a firm handshake with a friendly but business like parting statement:

‘No, I have nothing else to add except to thank you for your time. I have enjoyed the interview and feel that it is been very useful. It has increased my interest in the job and confirmed my ability to be of value to your company.’

Remember that you are still creating a lasting impression that will get you noticed and remembered.

Send a thank you email or note on the same day and also mention the reasons you think you fit the position.

Now, with these tips, go and prepare your answers that will allow you to ace the job interview and knock their socks off!

With some practice and preparation, job interviews need not be a mystery or a horror. In fact, it can be enjoyable, informative, and even sometimes fun. Remember that every interview that you complete will make you more practiced in the art of getting interviewed. By continuing to interview for jobs, you will learn the range of variety of questions and scenarios that may confront you. Then you will be better prepared to win the job of your dreams!

 

 

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Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers.

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