Interviewing | Collins McNicholas

Jobseekers Guide – Interview Tips

Jobseekers Guide – Interview TipsIntroduction “You only get one chance to make a first impression” First impressions do count, and research has shown that the average person can make up their minds about somebody within the first 30 seconds! A job interview is no different. Preparation, presentation and attitude are the key ingredients to be successful. What to Expect? From the employer’s perspective, the purpose of the interview is to evaluate you and your capabilities, to assess your ability to contribute to the organisation and to see how well you might fit into the organisation. The Stages of an Interview There are 4 stages in a typical job interview: • Breaking the ice – introductions and ‘chitchat’ designed to help you relax and feel comfortable. • Exchanging information – questions that focus on the organisation, the job and your interest in both. • Expanding the focus – specific questions about you and how well you will be able to do the job. • Wrapping up – time for clarifying, asking questions and final comments. Interview Preparation Preparing yourself properly for an interview will help you relax and give you the confidence to answer tough questions. Thorough preparation will dramatically improve your chances of getting the job. Research the Company & the Role Firstly make sure you read through the job description carefully. If you are dealing with a recruitment consultant they should also be able to tell you about the company you are going to see, and about the person who is interviewing you. You should also conduct your own background research on the firm and the individuals you are meeting. You will then be able to make a much better impression at the interview. What to research? Go to the company’s website and research: • What products/services do they offer? • Who are their major competitors? • Where is the company’s headquarters located? • Have they been in the media or received any awards recently? • Use LinkedIn and Google to find out more about the company, and the people you are meeting. • Try to identify someone you know who works in that company and ask them to tell you what they can about the company. Review and know your CV Thoroughly familiarise yourself with your CV. Pay particular attention to things that you may have listed as accomplishments or achievements and be prepared to discuss these. Personal Presentation Before going for an interview make sure that your interview attire is appropriate. Don’t dress casually even if the employees of the company are wearing casual clothes. If in doubt, dress formally. Body Language Research has shown that only 7% of the message we send out is based on the actual words we use. The rest is down to body language and tone of voice. • Stand tall and confident, nerves make you slouch. • Smile and make good eye contact. • Avoid negative body language such as shuffling, scratching, looking around, folding your arms, etc. • Speak with energy and enthusiasm. Competency Based Interviews Companies are increasingly using a competency based interview model to screen job candidates. This involves asking job applicants to give specific examples where they have displayed certain competencies, or skills, and to describe the result of their actions. Sample Competency Based Interview Questions: Teamwork Give an example of a time when you have been asked to work in a group to complete a project. How did the group organise priorities and the delegation of tasks? What was the overall outcome of the project? Decision Making Describe a situation when a project or piece of work was going to miss a set deadline, how did you prioritise which parts of the work to complete first and how did you go about completing the existing work? Problem Solving Describe a significant problem that you have encountered recently. How did you approach this problem? Who was involved and how did you go about resolving it? Personal & Career Objectives What are your short, medium and long term goals, how have you gone about identifying and developing these goals and how do you intend to achieve them? Motivation Can you tell me about a time when you have performed over and above the expectations of your role?                             Communication Give an example of a time when you have had to communicate with individuals and groups. What methods of communication did you use and what problems did you face? The Star Technique This technique is particularly useful when answering competency based questions but can be applied to almost any interview question. Structuring your interview answers using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) interview technique will give you confidence and clarity when answering your interview questions. Following its form will result in your answers being high quality, comprehensive and detailed. This technique will also help you avoid deviating from the question and keep your answers structured and to the point. We would strongly advise you to use the STAR technique. Situation: Describe the background of a particular situation when you used the key competency. For example if the competency is budgetary control: “In my last job I was appointed to lead a project involving a £600,000 engineering factory shutdown lasting 2 weeks. I had overall responsibility for the budget for this project. I did face some challenges on this project which required careful management to keep to budget.” Task: Describe what your particular task was in relation to this, i.e. “My responsibility was to ensure that the project came in on time and on budget, which required close liaison with the department heads, maintenance managers, and cost and planning team. Any overspend, delay or conflict had to be resolved immediately to keep the project on budget. One week into the project we were faced with unexpected delays due to the unavailability of essential maintenance equipment which threatened the completion of the project on time and would ultimately have prevented the...

Read More

Using the STAR Technique When Preparing for an Interview

For many candidates, the interview process can be a very overwhelming experience with many fearing they will fail to recall important details and undersell their ability. The STAR technique is a method used to help candidates prepare for interviews, especially competency based interviews. This method will allow you to form your answers efficiently, focusing directly on the question being asked. What are competency based interviews? Competency based interviews are designed to make the job application process unbiased as each candidate is asked the same types of questions. This form on interviewing is commonly practiced in large organisations. An example of a competency based question may begin with “Tell me about a time when…” This may not seem difficult, however, during the interview it is common for candidates to leave out information and wander off topic, therefore, delivering an unstructured answer. It is important that you “sell yourself” during the interview while following the STAR technique to structure your answers. So what is the STAR technique? Your answer should incorporate the following elements: S – Situation T – Task A – Action R – Result Situation: Describe the background of a particular situation when you used the competency.  For example, if the competency is budgetary control, you may answer; “In my last job I was appointed to lead a project involving a €800,000 engineering factory shutdown lasting 3 weeks, and I had complete responsibility for the budget for this project. I did face some challenges on this project which required careful management to keep to budget.” Task: Define what your particular task was in relation to this, i.e. “My duty...

Read More

Ten Important Points to Note the Day of Your Interview

One of the most stressful elements of looking for employment is the interview process. The following simple tips will allow you to prepare for a successful interview and perform well on the day.   Be on time. It is crucial not to be late for your interview. Allocate plenty of time the morning of the interview and plan your route to minimise any problems occurring. If something unforeseen happens causing a delay to your journey, phone ahead and explain the situation while stating you will get there as soon as possible. Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake. A positive first impression is very important. When shaking the interviewers hand it is important to have direct eye contact while also smiling politely. You will come across as assertive and composed. Stay calm. This will allow you to think more clearly and therefore you will deliver better responses as a result. Feeling anxious and nervous is normal in an interview, the key thing is being able to control it. It is important to note that the interviewers where once in your position. Listen carefully and take your time answering. Take a moment after a question to think about what is being asked and how best to answer it before replying. Don’t get carried away. It is important to provide a full response to the question asked; however, it is also important not to speak for longer than is necessary or to go off topic. Ask for a question to be repeated or explained if necessary. This will give you both more time to think about your response while also getting...

Read More

8 Tips for Staying Calm During a Job Interview

The thought of an interview is often a daunting one. If you remain cool and calm during an interview, you will project an air of confidence which is attractive to a potential employer. You will also demonstrate that you can remain calm when stressful situations arise in the course of your work. To stop nerves getting the better of you, here are some tips to secure that coveted job: Be Prepared Know the job you are interviewing for, review the job description and understand what you can bring to the role. Research the company, their products/services and their competitors. Go onto their website and use LinkedIn to learn about the person who is interviewing you. Practice The more we practice, the more skilled we become. Don’t memorize exact answers to likely interview questions, but do have points prepared of what you want to say to a potential employer. Think about why you want the job and what makes you a great candidate for it.  If you can, do a mock interview with a friend. Nerves tend to make us speak very quickly so try and watch out for that during the mock interview. Arrive Early and Relax Allow yourself plenty of time to get to the interview; you don’t want to give a bad impression by being late. Try to arrive early to give yourself time to gather your thoughts and take a few deep breaths. Think positively and be confident You have already been short listed for interview so the company obviously thinks you can do the job. Focus on your strengths and this will help calm your...

Read More

Interviews – Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

  When it comes to preparing for an interview, you must consider all aspects of your CV and the job in question before you face the interview panel. Preparation is the key to success. It is natural to view job interviews as a daunting prospect when so much can be at stake. However, with the right attitude and preparation, an interview can be a positive experience for all concerned – and result in a job offer! Here are some tips to make sure you are prepared – Do Your Research – Always make sure you have looked at the company’s website in detail. Research the organisation and have a good understanding of what they do, their products etc. as this is very important to demonstrate your interest in the company. The Job Spec – Be able to look through each point of the job description and be able to demonstrate your experience.  I would recommend you go through the job spec highlighting areas you are familiar with and writing alongside examples of where you have carried this out to date. By giving real working examples of your experience this will demonstrate why you are the best person for the job. Your CV – It is important to know your CV inside out, your education to date, career to date and reasons for leaving certain roles. It is also important to be able to explain any gaps that appear in your CV. Arrive on time – There is nothing worse than being late for an interview. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes beforehand. Plan ahead by making sure you have good...

Read More

Prepare for an Interview with the STAR Technique

Preparing for an interview can be a daunting experience for candidates, many fearing that they will forget the detail of work based examples and undersell their experience in the heat of an interview. I would always advise candidates to use the STAR structure while preparing for interviews, especially competency based interviews. By sticking to this method you will be able to keep your response to the point and structure your answer effectively. What are competency based interviews? Competency based interviews are designed to make the job application process as objective and unbiased as possible as all candidates are asked the same types of questions.  Competency interviews are very common today and are used by most large organisations. A typical competency based question may start with “Tell me about a time when…” This may not seem like a difficult question but in the heat of an interview it can happen that you leave out key details and tend to “waffle” when delivering an unstructured answer. A good way to avoid this and to ensure that you “sell yourself” in this type of interview is to follow the STAR technique to structure your answers. An interview may not be overtly competency based and if your interviewer is not very experienced may include questions such as: This job deals with a lot of confidential information, have you done this before? This question could be answered with a yes or no. However, in order to make the best of this opportunity to demonstrate your suitability, think of it as a competency based question and answer with a specific example of when you have dealt...

Read More