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Interview Advice

Please read our handy tips for interview success below…

FIRST: Research

It is of the utmost importance that you research both the role you’re applying for and the company you’re applying to.  All professional employers ask:-

What do you know about our company?What do you know about the role you are applying for?

If you are negative or neutral in your answers to these questions you will ALWAYS FAIL.

THEREFORE; you should always research key facts about the Company and the role you’ve applied for. Have a thorough look at the company website, and any other information you can find out about the company.

SECOND: Desire

The person who displays, in a professional manner, a keen and strong desire to work for the company applied to always stands a better chance of success.

IMAGINE THIS SCENARIO

A woman is made redundant.  She is given £40,000.  She uses all of this money to open a sweet shop. The sweet shop is all she has in the world; so the sweet shop’s success is everything to her.  Put yourself in her shoes.  Who would you give the job to; candidate A or candidate B?

Candidate (A)

“I have worked in a shop before.  I am good at working in a shop.  I’m working in a clothes shop and would like a change.”

Candidate (B) “I have never worked in a shop   before, however I do have an interest and passion for sweets.  I see that you have lots of traditional sweets which I am familiar with.  I would love to work in a sweet shop, and for me this would be my dream job.”

Candidate B has clearly displayed the strongest desire to do the job.  Passion and desire can even make up for lack of experience.

THIRD: Prove Your Ability

You must be able to prove that you are capable of doing the job.  To help you do this think about your past work experience (use your CV as a guide) and link your experience to the role you are applying for. It is really useful to do this exercise by writing it down.

To prove your ability you may be asked competency based questions. In responding to a competency-based question you must be able to give a real life example of a time when you have demonstrated this skill.  DON’T LIE OR INVENT SITUATIONS.  Be ready to talk about your example in detail. Preparation here is the key.

Example Question

Imagine that an interviewer has asked a candidate the following question:

(Q) “Please describe a situation when you’ve helped a colleague who was in trouble.  What was the situation, and how did you try to tackle it?”

 (A) “There was a time when my colleague, James, came to me with a problem about his sales performance.  He asked for advice; so I tried to be supportive and make some suggestions.  I also helped him on some site visits to customers.  And, over the course of the next few months, he listened to my advice and managed to bring his performance up to satisfactory levels again.”

So further questions could be used:

(Q) How recently did this happen?

(A) This was three years ago, when I’d just moved from the Sales department to the Marketing Department.

And then a further question could be used:

(Q) Why did he come to you?

(A) He came to me because we’d established a good working relationship by that point.  It was a small company, so I tried to meet with new colleagues and explain to them that I was there for them if they ever needed any help.

A candidate who didn’t actually experience that situation would have found it hard to provide so much detail. The interviewer could have asked any number of further questions – all of which you would need to have good answers to.

Competency answers need to be specific; relating to a particular incident. You have to be able to paint a picture for the interviewer. When preparing your possible answers use the STAR technique to ensure you are presenting them clearly and concisely:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

If this is too much to remember on the spot in the interview, you could think of it as ‘beginning/middle/end’; like a story:

Beginning: explain the situation.

Middle: what you did or how you went about it.

End: what was the outcome, and how did you (or the customer/employer/colleague) feel?

The types of questions asked will vary from role to role, but if you wish to do further research on this method of interviewing the following website is particularly useful: http://www.interview-skills.co.uk/competency-based-interviews.aspx

Other Typical Interview Questions

  • What can you bring to this role?
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • What is your strongest skill?
  • What has been your biggest achievement?
  • Why are you interested in working for this company?
  • Why are you interested in this role?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

General Interview Tips:

  • Greet the reception staff professionally and confidently; as they can be very influential.
  • Greet the interviewer by name, with a smile and a firm handshake.
  • Always maintain positive body language and make regular eye contact.  Remember to not fidget, tap your feet, or play with your hair or your hands.  Never fold your arms; keep your hands relaxed on your lap.
  • You may be superbly qualified for the position, but you still need to sell yourself and appear motivated and interested.  Being asked questions is a brilliant opportunity to sell yourself.  Be ready to expand on the information on your C.V.
  • Speak clearly and concisely.
  • Remember to ask any questions you have prepared for the interview (we recommend having 2 or 3 questions to ask the interviewer).
  • DO NOT CRITICISE your former employers or lie.
  • Never precede a positive with a negative. i.e. “I am fairly good at delivering customer service.”SHOULD BE “I am good at delivering customer service.”
  • Leave on a high note! Thank the interviewer for their time, and if you want the job make sure that you make this clear to the interviewer.
  • Never describe your skills or experiences in a negative way
  • .Dress the part.
  • And finally; be yourself and enjoy it!

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