Interviews aren’t a scary experience if you focus on some simple preparation. At Wynne Consulting we have many years’ experience of helping high quality people to be successful at interview, so here are a few easy tips to help you succeed:
- Dress as smartly as you possibly can. First impressions are very important and don’t get caught out – there is no such thing as an “informal interview”.
- Get hold of a Job Description prior to the interview if you can. Make sure you read and understand it as much as possible.
- Research the company where you are interviewing. The Internet is a vast source of information to allow you to research companies and what they do. Understand their products, services, financial performance, market sectors serviced and who they compete with www.google.co.uk is the most useful tool for searching for companies information.
- Review your C.V and ensure you know it intimately – questions will be asked about it.
- Figure out what you’re best at and put it into a single sentence to use at interview to describe yourself. If people who have never met you before quickly know what you can do then it makes it a lot easier.
- Expect technical related questions if you are from a technical background.
- If you have worked in a project based environment try and take along some examples of your work or pictures of equipment or projects you have been involved in. Visual aids and examples of work are always well received. Pictures are much more descriptive than words and allow interviewers to understand you better.
- Make sure you know where you are going and who you are meeting prior to the interview – arrive at least 10mins early as lateness is a big turnoff, even if it’s not your fault. Build in some contingency for transportation problems.
- Try not to answer any questions in a negative way. Always try and be positive.
- Speak clearly and give eye contact wherever possible.
- If moving between industries highlight common “transferable skills” – teamwork / communication / interpersonal skills / leadership.
- Deep, slow, deliberate breathing calms things down if you get tense. Use it if you are nervous to calm things down.
- Always have 2 questions prepared relative to the job. Good examples are ask about Responsibilities, Training and Career Progression opportunities.
- At the end of the interview – always ask “Are there any areas of my experience that you are concerned about”? – and then answer accordingly. This is a tough question to ask – but you are much better trying to address a concern face-to-face than not at all. In many instances candidates do have the required experience – but it hasn’t been clarified at the interview. If this happens – the interviewer will simply assume you haven’t got that experience and “mark you down” accordingly. Communication is the key – so try and ascertain if the interviewer has any concerns / issues and try and deal with them before you leave.
Common questions you may be asked at interview:
Although there is no set format that every job interview will follow, there are some questions that you can almost guarantee will crop up. Here’s a list of the most common questions and a guide to the kind of answers your interviewer wants to hear.
- Tell me about yourself – This is usually the opening question and, as first impressions are key, one of the most important. Keep your answer to under five minutes, beginning with an overview of your highest qualification then running through the jobs you’ve held so far in your career. You can follow the same structure of your CV, giving examples of achievements and the skills you’ve picked up along the way. Don’t go into too much detail – your interviewer will probably take notes and ask for you to expand on any areas where they’d like more information. If you’re interviewing for your first job since leaving education, focus on the areas of your studies you most enjoyed and how that has led to you wanting this particular role.
- What are your strengths? – Pick the three biggest attributes that you think will get you the job and give examples of how you have used these strengths in a work situation. They could be tangible skills, such as proficiency in a particular computer language, or intangible skills such as good man-management. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at the job description. There is usually a section listing candidate requirements, which should give you an idea of what they are looking for.
- What are your weaknesses? – The dreaded question, which is best handled by picking something that you have made positive steps to redress. For example, if your IT ability is not at the level it could be, state it as a weakness but tell the interviewer about training courses or time spent outside work hours you have used to improve your skills. Your initiative could actually be perceived as a strength. On no accounts say “I don’t have any weaknesses”, your interviewer won’t believe you, or “I have a tendency to work too hard”, which is seen as avoiding the question.
- Why should we hire you? or What can you do for us that other candidates can’t? – What makes you special and where do your major strengths lie? You should be able to find out what they are looking for from the job description. “I have a unique combination of strong technical skills and the ability to build long-term customer relationships” is a good opening sentence, which can then lead onto a more specific example of something you have done so far in your career. State your biggest achievement and the benefit it made to the business, then finish with “Given the opportunity, I could bring this success to your company.”
- What are your goals? or Where do you see yourself in five years time? – It’s best to talk about both short-term and long-term goals. Talk about the kind of job you’d eventually like to do and the various steps you will need to get there, relating this in some way back to the position you’re interviewing for. Show the employer you have ambition, and that you have the determination to make the most of every job you have to get where you want to be.
- Why do you want to work here?– The interviewer is listening for an answer that indicates you’ve given this some thought. If you’ve prepared for the interview properly, you should have a good inside knowledge of the company’s values, mission statement, development plans and products. Use this information to describe how your goals and ambition matches their company ethos and how you would relish the opportunity to work for them. Never utter the phrase “I just need a job.”
- What are three positive things your last boss would say about you? – This is a great time to brag about yourself through someone else’s words. Try to include one thing that shows your ability to do the job, one thing that shows your commitment to the work, and one thing that shows you are a good person to have in a team. For example, “My boss has told me that I am the best designer he has ever had. He knows he can always rely on me, and he likes my sense of humour.”
- What salary are you seeking?– You can prepare for this by knowing the value of someone with your skills. Try not to give any specific numbers in the heat of the moment – it could put you in a poor position when negotiating later on. Your interviewer will understand if you don’t want to discuss this until you are offered the job. If they have provided a guideline salary with the job description, you could mention this and say it’s around the same area you’re looking for.
You should always have some questions for your interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the position. Prepare a minimum of five questions, some which will give you more information about the job, and some which delve deeper into the culture and goals of the company.
We hope this advice helps. If you need any further help or advice call us on 03707 520025 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org