Preparing for a Job Interview
How do you rate at a job interview?
Listed below are a number of key points/hints that we feel will help improve your performance at interview and therefore greatly increase your chance of getting the job you want!
Preparation for the Interview
Preparation is the first essential step towards a successful interview. Interviewers are continually amazed at the number of candidates who have not prepared and possess little or no information about the company.
Ensure that you know the exact location and time of the interview, the interviewer’s full name, the correct pronunciation and the title held.
Find out specific facts about the company – where its plants, offices or stores are located, what its products and services are, what its growth has been, and what its growth potential is for the future. There are a number of research publications providing this kind of information. Among the most helpful are:
- Company Annual Reports
- Company Website
- Stock Exchange Research Handbook
- The internet
Refresh your memory on the facts and figures of your PRESENT/FORMER employer. You will be expected to know a lot about a company that you have previously worked for.
Prepare the questions you will ask and remember that an interview is a ‘two-way-street’. The interviewer will try to determine through questioning if you have the qualifications necessary to do the job and that you are interested in their role and organisation. You must determine through questioning whether the company will provide the opportunity for growth and development that you seek.
Probing questions you might ask:
- A detailed description of the position?
- Reason the position is available?
- Culture of the company?
- Anticipated induction and training programme?
- What sort of people have done well?
- Advanced training programmes available for those who demonstrate outstanding ability?
- Company growth plans?
- Challenges facing the company both currently and in the future?
- Best-selling products or services?
- The next step?
Dress in a smart business attire. Don’t wear casual clothes even if you know it is the company policy.
You are being interviewed because the interviewer wants to fill a vacancy. Through the interaction which will take place, the interviewer will be assessing your skills and experience. In addition, the interviewer may closely question you on your past experiences to determine particular competencies or skills.
‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ concerning the interview
DO plan to arrive on time or a few minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable.
If presented with an application, DO fill it out neatly and completely. If you have a personal resume, be sure the person to whom you release it is the person who will actually do the hiring.
DO greet the interviewer by their name. Ensure that you know the correct pronunciation.
DO shake hands firmly.
DO wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair, look alert and interested at all times. Be a good listener as well as a good talker. SMILE.
DO look a prospective employer in the eye when you converse.
DO follow the interviewer’s leads but try to obtain a full description of the position and duties expected early so that you can relay your appropriate background and skills.
DO make sure that your good points get across to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner. Keep in mind that only you can sell yourself and make the interviewer aware of the potential benefits that you can offer to the organisation.
DO always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. Never close the door on an opportunity. It is better to be in the position where you can choose from a number of jobs, rather than only one.
DON’T smoke, even if the interviewer smokes and offers you a cigarette.
DON’T answer questions with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Explain whenever possible. Describe those things about yourself which relate to the position.
DON’T LIE. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and as much to the point as possible.
DON’T make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers.
DON’T ‘over-answer’ questions. The interviewer may steer the conversation into politics or economics. These topics can be controversial; it is best to answer the questions honestly, trying not to say more than is necessary.
DON’T enquire about SALARY, HOLIDAYS, BONUSES, etc at the initial interview unless you are positive the interviewer is interested in hiring you. However, you should know your market value and be prepared to specify your required salary or range.
Interview Questions to prepare for
Today most interviewers use competency based interviewing techniques, as utilised by Clayton Ford consultants, whereby the interviewer is looking for previous behavioural events that demonstrate particular competencies or skills.
The question will typically be prefaced by “Can you give me an example of …” or “Tell me about a situation where you had to …”
Rehearse examples of previous situations and events where you have demonstrated the skills that client may be seeking. Ensure that as part of these rehearsals you clearly explain what the situation involved, why you took the action that was taken and what the outcome was.
Interviews will generally be comprised of a broad range of questions including competency based behavioural questions and other more general questions. When applying for finance, accounting or banking roles some of the questions you are asked may include:
- What is the ideal role you are you looking for?
- what are your major strengths and weaknesses?
- what do you know about the company?
- Why did you choose a career in accountancy/banking/tax/audit
- Why would you like to work for our company?
- What do you want to be doing in your career five years from now?
- What have you done recently to improve your skills or performance?
- What style of management gets the best from you?
- What interests you about our product/service?
- Are you able to undertake travel in your work, Are you willing to relocate?
- What are your hobbies, interests, sports?
- Tell me about a time when you had to solve a challenging problem?
- Tell me about a time when an unexpected issue arose at short notice? How did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time when you have created a new and innovative way of doing an existing task?
- Tell me about a time when you have led by example?
- Tell me about a recent complex accounting issue you have solved?
- Describe a time when you have had to analyse a complex financial model?
- Tell me about a challenging interpersonal relationship that you have had to manage in a work situation?
- Describe a time when you have had to deal with a non-performing staff member?
- Tell me about a time when you have had to make a particularly hard decision?
- Tell me about a time when you have helped your team through a difficult time or event?
- What has been the most important goal you have set yourself and how did you achieve it?
- Can you describe a time when you had to work under pressure to meet a deadline?
Negative Factors to watch for
During the course of an interview, the interviewer will be evaluating your negative factors as well as your positive attributes. Listed below are negative factors frequently evaluated during the course of an interview and those which most often lead to rejection:
- Poor personal appearance
- Overbearing – aggressive – conceited ‘superiority complex’ – ‘know it all’ attitude
- Inability to express thoughts clearly – poor diction or grammar
- Lack of planning for career – no purpose or goals
- Lack of interest and enthusiasm – passive and indifferent
- Lack of confidence – nervousness
- Over-emphasis on money – interested only in remuneration
- Evasive – makes excuses for unfavourable factors in record
- Lack of tact/maturity/courtesy
- Condemnation of previous employers
- Failure to look the interviewer in the eye
- Limp, fishy handshake
- Failure to ask good questions about the job and company
- Lack of preparation for interview – failure to get information about the company, resulting in an inability to ask intelligent questions
Closing the Interview
IF you are interested in the position enquire about the next interview stage if applicable. If the interviewer offers the position to you and you want it, accept on the spot. If you wish for some time to think it over, be courteous and tactful in asking for that time. Set a definite date when you can provide an answer.
DON’T be too discouraged if no definite offer is made or specific salary discussed. The interviewer will probably want to consult with colleagues first or interview other candidates before making a decision.
IF you get the impression that the interview is not going well and that you have already been rejected, don’t let your discouragement show. Once in a while an interviewer who is genuinely interested in your possibilities may seem to discourage you in order to test your reaction.
THANK the interviewer for the time spent with you.
After the Interview
Lastly, and most importantly, call your consultant at Clayton Ford immediately after and explain what happened. The consultant will want to speak with you before the interviewer calls.
Understanding Psych Tests
Employers are increasingly using psychological evaluation as part of their assessment procedures – both for selection of staff and for development and counselling. Psychological evaluations can help you:
- Identify your work preferences
- Be assessed objectively against other candidates
- Select a career path for which you are best suited
- Find out more about your strengths and limitations
To help you prepare for the tests, we have included the following tips of the Psychological Assessment process.
Some hints to help you during the assessment process:
- Preparation for the assessment is not necessary. Just try and have a good night’s sleep the night before and ensure you have eaten (you may wish to take some snacks with you if the testing session is long).
- If an unexpected or upsetting event occurs prior to the assessment, consider postponing your appointment until you feel more settled.
- When booking in for testing remember morning is better for most people as you won’t have the day’s stresses behind you.
- If you need glasses to read or to see a computer screen remember to take them with you.
- During the timed tests, both accuracy and speed are important. So don’t spend too much time on any one question. If you are struggling with an item, skip it and come back to it if you have time.
- During the untimed tests remember to be yourself, avoid the middle or unsure responses as much as possible and work as quickly as you can.
- Try not to stress about the assessments – remember this is only part of the process and we all have strengths and areas for development – no one is perfect!
- Regardless of the outcome of your assessment, you should call for feedback once you have received the outcome of your application. This will allow you to learn about your strengths and areas for development.
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