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Interview Techniques

Time spent preparing for an interview will certainly pay off on the day, you will be more confident on the day and able to focus on the content of the interview.

Your research can be done quickly and effectively if you know what information you need at this stage. Before you do any begin your research make sure of three things.

  • You have been given a job specification and role is of interest
  • You are aware of the salary/package potentially on offer
  • The location of the company is commutable on a daily basis

Essential Research

Most information can be found on the company website and ideally this should be the first source of information. If this is not possible or the website is not informative ring reception and ask if they are able to send you any company literature. If the company is listed you can check on yahoo's financial pages. If you are using an agency your consultant should be able to assist you with this.

Company Information

Who owns the company - does it have a parent company, how long has it been established, turnover etc?
Does the company have a mission statement or core values, what are they?

The interviewer may be interested in your compatibilty with the company's core values.
This information may help you form any questions you may ask at the end of the interview.

First Impressions

  • Be on time - arrive 5 minutes early. Plan your journey and allow plenty of time.
  • Be polite to the person on reception, they may be the interviewers best friend.
  • Dress smartly, go conservative unless told otherwise
  • Shake hands properly, a lettuce leaf handshake can be quite disturbing
  • Smile when you say hello - it's the best icebreaker. Not smiling will make the interviewer feel uneasy.
  • Do accept a drink if offered, water is a good option you may be doing a lot of talking.
  • You may be asked to complete an application form. This may be company policy and everyone working at the company will have done it. Fill it in, do not put 'See CV' as this may give the wrong impression.
  • Do not book anything immediately after the interview. They may like you and ask you to meet some other people don't miss an opportunity.
  • Be Positive
  • Avoid running down your current or ex-employers, think positively and explain why a career change is good for you. Look at your achievements and how you would like to develop your skills in the future.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses
  • It is sensible to have 3 or 4 key strengths formulated in advance of the interview. They need to be relevant to the job and you must be able to back them up with practical examples.

Possible Strengths:

  • Practical
  • Positive
  • Dedicated
  • Enthusiastic
  • Task Oriented
  • Self-motivated
  • Tenacious
  • Ambitious
  • Resilient
  • Decisive

Possible Weaknesses:

  • Need to be stretched
  • Need to be kept busy
  • Expect high standards of others
  • I find it hard to say no
  • I may be slightly pedantic, but I am aware of this

Potential Questions

Think about some of the questions below and write down your responses. Pick the ones you wouldn't like to be asked first as this will boost your confidence before you walk in the room. You will be surprised how helpful it will be in an interview.

  • Tell me something about yourself.
  • What are your short and long-range career goals and objectives? How are you preparing yourself to achieve them?
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Based upon your previous experience, what special knowledge/skills do you bring with you that benefit our department/unit?
  • What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses? What would your past supervisors say are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What jobs have you held? Why did you leave?
  • Under what type of supervision do you work best?
  • Describe the type of relationship that should exist between a supervisor and subordinates?
  • Describe your perfect manager?
  • How do you work under pressure? Describe a situation and how you handled it?
  • What things are most important to you in a job?
  • How would you describe the ideal job for you?
  • What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction?
  • Why?
  • Are you willing to work evenings, weekends, or overtime?

Closing the Interview

Over to You

Asking Questions

This is another opportunity to impress the interviewer as well as discover a little more about the situation. However, do not become the inquisitor; remember, you are being interviewed not the other way around. The interview may have already taken the time to tell you what they know about the company and the job, so pay attention and avoid asking questions that have already been covered.

Consider asking the following if not already covered:

  • How will my performance be assessed
  • What issues would you like the successful person to address first in this role
  • What are the prospects for advancement in the long term
  • What do you most enjoy about working for this company

Is encouragement given for further training

How does this department integrate with the rest of the organisation
Ask any technical questions you feel appropriate

The Salary Questions

It is quite common that salary may not be discussed at first interview but if you are asked the question a good response can be:

  • 'I am aware of the salary on offer and I am comfortable with the range described.'
  • Avoid giving away all of you card straight away if you are asked about your salary let the interviewer know that your current salary is slightly under that on offer for this role.
  • If the interview volunteers' information about the salary you can expect, let them know your thoughts and that you are interested in the position. Really avoid negotiating whilst you are in the chair, the interviewer has the upper hand and you may agree terms you may not be comfortable when you have more time to think.

At the End

Stay positive. If you are asked about your continued interest in the position, answer in the affirmative, the interviewer is trying to perceive your thoughts. Decisions are always better made when you can stand back from the situation. Should you be offered the position there and then, show your pleasure, say thank you and let them know you will let them know after a little time to contemplate.

There is no harm in establishing what the next step will be. Ask when they plan to move to the next stage so you can plan your availability.



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