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Interview Preparation

It is impossible to overstate the value of approaching an interview with meticulous preparation.  A solid interview means the difference between getting the job or not and, at times, can be more influential in the decision making than technical or sales skills. Most interviewers admit to making their decision in the first few minutes based on simple behavioural and professional criteria.

Preparation

  • Research the company by looking on their website and by asking your consultant for any additional information.
  • Understand the Job Description, accountabilities, responsibilities and details such as salary and location.
  • Plan your journey in advance – it is imperative that you are on time or early.
  • Bring at least one copy of your CV with you as well as a pen and some paper that you can take notes on, should you need to.
  • Bring copies of any previous employer references that you have.
  • Bring your passport and visa details, as appropriate.
  • Bring completed application forms if requested.

Appearance

  • Be punctual: arriving late is unprofessional and is a very bad start to the interview. It gives the impression that you are unorganized, under prepared and not punctual.
  • Dress code: you should always attend an interview in a suit unless told otherwise by your consultant
  • Be polite to everyone you meet including support staff and reception.
  • Be friendly: shake hands with all the interviewers, making sure to introduce yourself clearly.
  • Keep good eye contact throughout the interview and smile.
  • Be enthusiastic about the job and the company.
  • Be confident. Good preparation will always increase confidence.

During the Interview

  • Turn off your mobile phone before your interview. Should you forget and your phone rings, do not answer it and turn it off immediately
  • Focus on the interviewer and what is being said, do not get distracted by your surroundings.
  • Do not eat or chew gum during your interview.
  • Do not swear or be overly critical of current / previous employers, even if the interviewer(s) are being derogatory about previous / current employers.
  • The interviewer will normally close the interview inviting you to ask some questions. You should take this opportunity to ask some well-chosen and prepared questions.
  • The questions you ask will portray your level of enthusiasm for that subject, so some carefully chosen questions on the company or the job will give a positive indication of your interest in the role.
  • Ask about the interviewer, particularly if you are going to potentially be working with them. Remember, a lack of questions implies a lack of interest in the job.

Closing the interview

  • Let the interviewer(s) know that you are enthusiastic about the job and that you are confident in your abilities to do the job. Feel free to openly picture yourself in the job, this will help the interviewer to visualise you actually doing the job.
  • Ask if there is anything else they would like to know about you.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask if the interviewer(s) like you and if they will ask you back for a second interview. This may be the only opportunity for you to redress any issues that they may have.
  • Clarify what the next step is, i.e. when the next interview will take place and who will you be hearing from next.
  • If the interviewer(s) ask if you would accept an offer, always reply in the affirmative.

Key Competencies

Please find below a list of some of the key competencies that the client is likely to be interested in. It's a good idea to think about which of these best suit you.

▪ Technical Ability                        ▪ Customer Focus             ▪ Conscientious              ▪ Team Work

▪ Punctual                                        ▪ Work Ethic                      ▪ Profitability                  ▪ Suitability

▪ Communication skills               ▪ Dedication                       ▪ Efficiency                       ▪ Analytical

▪ Problem Solving                         ▪ Reliability                         ▪ Ability to listen            ▪ Soft skills

▪ Going the extra mile                 ▪ Stable work history       ▪ Positive Attitude        ▪ Enthusiasm


Examples of the Most Common Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself? (Ask them to clarify this question – what do they want to know and where do they want you to start)
  • What are/were your primary responsibilities in your current/previous vacancy?
  • Why did you leave/are you considering leaving?
  • What are your proudest accomplishments in this position?
  • What was the most difficult part of your job, and how did you deal with it?
  • What qualities are necessary to be successful in this role?
  • How did you feel about your workload?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Do you consider yourself successful? Why?
  • What was the most challenging aspect of your job?
  • What kinds of rewards are satisfying to you?
  • What have you done to improve your skills?
  • What are you looking for now?
  • What other kinds of positions have you applied for recently?
  • What do you know about us?
  • What aspect of this job interests you least? Most?
  • Do you prefer to work by yourself or with others?
  • How long would it take you to make an impact with us?
  • How would you describe your personality?
  • Were you satisfied with your performance in your previous position? Why?
  • Why should I hire you above another candidate?
  • Do you set goals?
  • Describe a major goal you set and what steps you took to reach it?
  • When you fail to reach target, how do you deal with it?
  • How would your managers describe you?
  • How do you handle criticism?
  • What would you change about your former/current employer?
  • What was your best/worst manager like?
  • What outside activities are most significant to your personal development?
  • Describe a time when you have had a conflict with a colleague. How did you overcome it?

Culture-Related Interview Questions

  • Tell me about a time when you helped a colleague or direct report improve or be more successful.
  • Tell me about a time when you didn’t get along with a colleague. How did you handle it? What were the results?
  • Tell me about a time when you put a colleague or the interest of the company before yourself. 
  • Why did you do it?

Questions re Integrity and ethics

  • Tell me about a time you stood up for something you believed in.
  • Tell me about a time when you did not agree with something you were asked to do.  How did you handle it?
  • Who are your role models and why?

Questions re quality and professionalism

  • In your last position, how was quality measured? 
  • How do you measure your true success at work?
  • Describe when you worked the hardest and felt the greatest sense of accomplishment.

Questions re continuous improvement and growth

  • What are the goals you’ve set for yourself this year? 
  • How have your goals changed from last year?
  • Tell me about a time you had to change your mind or way of doing things in order to improve.
  • Tell me about a time you received critical feedback from a supervisor. 
  • How did you make improvements and what was the result?

Questions for You to Ask

  • What will my responsibilities be?
  • Where will I fit into the overall organisational structure?
  • Who will I report to?
  • Where does he/she fit in the structure?
  • What level of performance do you expect from me?
  • Where is the company going? Upwards? Expansion plans?
  • What are the opportunities of advancement/promotion in this position? When?
  • What training and development do you provide?
  • What is the next step?
  • What would I be expected to accomplish in this position?
  • What are the greatest challenges of this position?
  • How long is the sales/project cycle?
  • What are the reasons for the vacancy?
  • Do you have any concerns about my ability to do the job? If so what are they?
  • How do you think I fit the position?
  • How do I compare to other candidates? (Use questions like these to impress them further/remove any doubts they may have)

Possible reasons for rejection

Even the best answers and examples can't overcome some of these interview dont's

  • Poor or inappropriate personal appearance
  • Overbearing, aggressive or conceited manner
  • Superiority complex or know-it-all attitude
  • Lack of confidence, nervousness or evasiveness
  • Inability to express thought clearly
  • Poor body language, diction or grammar
  • Lack of planning for career, no plans, purpose nor goals
  • Lack of interest and enthusiasm, passive or indifferent
  • Makes excuses for unfavourable factors on record
  • Lack of manners, maturity or courtesy
  • Condemnation of past employers, management or services
  • Failure to look interviewer in the eye
  • Limp handshake
  • Failure to ask questions about the job
  • Persistent attitude of "What can you do for me?"
  • Lack of preparation for the interview
  • Failure to get information about the company
  • Failure to read or understand the job specification
  • Unable to ask intelligent questions 

You have all the tools you need now to prepare for your interview - good luck!

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