(for either online or in person interviews)
Whatever you are, be the best you can
Why not give yourself an advantage over your competitors? It’s possible to anticipate up to 90% of the questions you’re likely to be asked in an interview, particularly with competency based interviews, through the processes I will show you in an interview coaching session.
Examine the job description and company website carefully – The majority of the likely competency based questions are fairly obvious.
It makes sense to practice your answers in an interview coaching session beforehand so that you’ve a better chance of presenting your best self to the interview board on the day.
Preparation, preparation, preparation. In front of a mirror, on your phone, in front of your loved ones and friends. Again and again and again.
Firstly, research the website of the company that you’re applying for (and also those of their competitors).
Gather detailed information about the company– you need to be able to walk into the interview knowing the organization inside out!
You should also consider conducting a few informational interviews. Arrange to chat with people who are in the type of roles you’re applying for already– and preferably in the same company.
Use your networks, LinkedIn, and/or trawl the company website and phone people and ask to speak with them.
In general, people will love to help you.
You’ll gain insights, get feedback on your strengths as potential job candidate and build your networks.
Check who your interviewer/s will be – look up their roles beforehand if possible.
The Day Itself!
Timing – Allow plenty of time to ensure your laptop is set up for the interview/get to the location. If you’re travelling to a location, try to get there at least 30 minutes early, just in case, and you’ll have time to relax in a coffee shop nearby. You’ll also have time to have a quick look at the answers to the questions that you’ve anticipated being asked. Have your answers in bullet points so that you can scan them quickly.
Bring – A briefcase/leather bound folder…looks polished…Bring several copies of your resume and cover letter, notepad and pen.
Body Language – Whether on location or online - the first few minutes of the interview are the most important – it’s crucial to make a good first impression.
- Ensure you are impeccably groomed!
- Smile pleasantly when you first meet the board and throughout the interview
- Make eye contact with all members regularly
- If online, ensure there is good lighting in your room (have the source of light in front of you), and have the laptop at eye-level
- If on location, walk into the office with a self assured and confident stride
- Have some small talk/banter prepared for the beginning and end of the interview
Overcoming nervousness – Most interviewers will allow for a certain amount of nervousness. Nevertheless, they will also be paying attention to how you react under pressure.
- During your preparation, picture yourself answering confidently
- Allow time immediately beforehand to takes some moments to meditate/relax
- Remember – the interviewer/s are trying to give you a platform to convince them of your strengths – they’re on your side!
- As you answer questions, watch for signals from the employer as to whether your responses are too short or too long
- Have a number of examples/stories prepared that you can use as replies to questions – e.g. – how you had a very demanding client and how you coped well with it, etc.
- This is not the time for modesty – tell them about YOUR skills and experiences – own your achievements, sell yourself!
- Don’t assume that everyone on the board will have read your CV – draw their attention to the most relevant and impressive parts of it.
- Know every element of your CV/cover letter inside out
- Draw regular parallels between your experience and the position you are interviewing for
- Try to be only positive during the interview, especially about previous roles– be cheerful – people like to work with colleagues who are upbeat
- Try not to let a tough question throw you – if you don’t know the answer, just say so, and smile
- Focus on a few of your greatest strengths that are relevant to the position – state them regularly in different words and contexts.
- Try to keep the conversation flowing - try to appear relaxed, enthusiastic and determined – all at the same time!!
Questions –with brief sample responses
When you participate in one of my interview coaching sessions we will practice questions and answers similar to the ones below.
- Why do you want to work in this area? – Tell a story about how you first became interested in this type of work – make your passion for your work a theme that you regularly return to during the interview.
- Salary expectations? Based on your job description, I hope you consider that my experience meets your highest expectations and I’d expect a salary at the high end of your pay scale – Can you give me some indication of your range?
- Problems in previous work? Concentrate on ways that you found solutions.
- What do you do in your spare time? The interviewer wants evidence that you’re well rounded and he/she is looking for common ground – You should try to in some way/s to relate your answer to the job description.
- What is your biggest weakness? – The key to answering negative questions is to give them a positive spin – e.g., I’m a bit of a perfectionist – I’m committed to doing the job well.- I was not great at delegating, but now I’ve learnt to because……
- Why do you want to leave your present position? I’ve learnt a lot in my time as a X, and it has been a wonderful experience. However, I’ve found that my interests really lie in working in…..this role…a company context….your company is highly respected…….. Show the interviewer that your decision has been based on careful consideration. Explain why you decided on this particular post, as well as how you will be able to benefit the company.
(Interview Coaching Part 2 will cover interview questions for specific competencies and examples of how you might go about answering them)