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Prepare for Interview Print E-mail

Research
Research is essential when applying for a job. Spend time researching your field, the company, its core business, products and services, competitors, organisation structure and history. Most of the research can be conducted online but other sources include annual reports, business magazines, newspapers. The more information you gather prior to the interview, the more confident you will feel, you will also be better prepared relevant questions. Prepare 3 key facts and be ready to answer the question: “What do you know about us?”


Place & Time
Make sure that you know the exact address of the interview, and the name and position of the person you are going to meet. Plan your journey to arrive 15 minutes in advance to avoid any unforeseen events. Have the telephone number of the company handy so that you can let them know if you are running late as this is generally forgiven whereas unannounced lateness generally isn’t.


What to Bring
Bring a note pad and prepare a list of questions you would like to ask. Think about the questions you want to ask several days in advance not on the way to the interview!
Don’t forget the job description, address & contact details.


Dress to Impress
Always dress smartly – this will demonstrate that you have made an effort and you are taking the interview seriously. Think about your clothing keep to the dress code of the job you are applying for. Suit and tie or skirt/dress is always a good choice. Polish your shoes!
Avoid ‘trendy’ outfits, bright patterns, eccentric ties, and try not to over accessorise.
Even if you are attending a second interview and you know the organisation allows less formal work dress, maintain a professional/formal approach, as you never know who you may meet, the Managing Director perhaps!


First 5 Minutes
You can only make one first impression, people shouldn’t judge by the first impression, but they do. If you look untidy that’s how you’ll be remembered and first impressions really do count.
Try and arrive at least five minutes early, switch off your mobile phone, make eye contact immediately when greeted, give a firm assertive handshake, not bone crushing!!! and smile.
Be polite to support staff – receptionists, assistants etc. It may sound obvious, but be civilised and remember your manners, other people will form opinions of you as well.
Don’t be negative i.e. if you were stuck in traffic and feel frustrated, still keep a positive outlook.


The Interview
During the interview stay positive and keep natural eye contact with all interviewers. Speak in a clear manner, do not use big gestures, and avoid vulgar or colloquial words.
You can make notes during the interview. If you would like to do so it is polite to ask your interviewer whether he/she agrees.
Be relaxed, self-confident, positive, honest and open.
Do not think about the possibility of not being accepted, remember that besides your potential employer, you are also making a choice.
Listen to the person interviewing you without interrupting them. Don’t use over elaborate, confusing answers, equally not just “yes” or “no”. Do not be either too passive or too dominant.
If you do not understand a question, feel free to ask. Do not be afraid to admit that there is something you do not know.
Make your salary expectation clear before the interview but do not be the first one who asks about it.
Speak positively about your current/previous employer. Consider carefully the answer to the question “Why are you leaving/have you left the company?” Do not hide anything; it can always come out later, for example during the verification of your references.
Try to keep your body language and all possible signs of nervousness under control (playing with a chain, moving on a chair, nervous laughing).
Don’t pretend you haven’t got any weaknesses because everyone has some. On the other hand, don’t do yourself down, discuss your weaknesses as though you have recognised and overcome them.


Questions You May Ask
There should be time for your questions during an interview. Questions will prove your interest and orientation in a given area. It’s best to ask questions that fit naturally into the context of the interview, however if inspiration fails you here are some suggestions which should give the right impression:

  • What is your company culture?
  • What are the possibilities for career development, where can I expect to be if my performance is good?
  • What are the future plans of the company?
  • Who do you perceive being your biggest competitor?
  • Do you have any reservations about my skills? Can I explain anything in more detail?

Questions You May Be Asked
Try to think of short and clear answers for frequently asked questions which usually appear during an interview. They are often focused on:


Your Work Experience

  • Tell me more about your last employment. (Point out especially those aspects which might be interesting from the point of view of your potential employer.)
  • What were your major responsibilities and competencies?
  • What did you enjoy the most and the least in your last position?
  • What does your typical working day/week/month look like?
  • Are you satisfied with the compensation for your work?
  • Describe both your successes and failures. (Prepare some specific examples.)
  • Why are you leaving your employer? (Honesty is the best policy!)

Your Talents and Abilities

  • How would you describe yourself?
  • Give me an example of an unexpectedly complicated situation at your work. How did you react?
  • Do you have ambitions to lead people?
  • Do you prefer teamwork to a position of senior expert?
  • What do you like/dislike about your current role?

Other Job Offers

  • Are you considering other job offers? (Let us know about other interesting positions you are applying for. This information should help your potential employer make a decision.)
  • How would you evaluate this position in comparison with the other offers?

Your Future Career

  • Are you satisfied with your career?
  • Why did you chose this career path?
  • What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
  • In what type of position are you most interested and why?
  • What do you expect from your future employer?

Your Future Employer

  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why should we offer you this job?
  • What is your current salary and how much do you expect?

When faced with a difficult question, there is nothing wrong with a brief contemplative pause before answering. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question if you don't understand it - try to determine what the interview is looking to find out. Remember the interview is a two-way process, you are there to demonstrate you ability not only to speak out but also to listen. Offer relevant information to the question. Always offer positive information.
It can happen that you will be asked a question you do not want to answer or which is not related to work (e.g. How old are your children?). Take your time. Ask the interviewer about the reason he/she is asking this question and then decide whether you want to answer or not, if not be honest and tell them you would rather not answer that.


Competence Based Questions

Adaptability

  • Tell me about a time when you changed your priorities to meet others' expectations.
  • Describe a time when you altered your own behaviour to fit the situation.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to change your point of view or your plans to take into account new information or changing priorities.

Client Focus

  • Give an example of how you provided service to a client/stakeholder beyond their expectations. How did you identify the need? How did you respond?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a client/stakeholder service issue.
  • Describe a situation in which you acted as an advocate within your organization for your stakeholder’s needs, where there was some organizational resistance to be overcome.

Communication

  • Describe a situation you were involved in that required a multi-dimensional communication strategy.
  • Give an example of a difficult or sensitive situation that required extensive communication.
  • Tell me about a time when you really had to pay attention to what someone else was saying, actively seeking to understand their message.

Organizational Awareness

  • Describe the culture of your organization and give an example of how you work within this culture to achieve a goal.
  • Describe the things you consider and the steps you take in assessing the viability of a new idea or initiative.
  • Tell me about a time when you used your knowledge of the organization to get what you needed.

Problem Solving and Judgment

  • Tell me about a time when you had to identify the underlying causes to a problem.
  • Describe a time when you had to analyze a problem and generate a solution.
  • Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a problem or make a decision that required careful thought.  What did you do?

Results Orientation

  • Tell me about a time when you set and achieved a goal.
  • Tell me about a time when you improved the way things were typically done on the job.
  • Describe something you have done to improve the performance of your work unit.
  • Describe something you have done to maximize or improve the use of resources beyond your own work unit to achieve improved results.

Teamwork

  • Tell me about a time when you worked successfully as a member of a team.
  • Describe a situation where you were successful in getting people to work together effectively.
  • Describe a situation in which you were a member (not a leader) of a team, and a conflict arose within the team. What did you do?

Developing Others

  • Tell me about a time when you coached someone to help them improve their skills or job performance.  What did you do?
  • Describe a time when you provided feedback to someone about their performance.
  • Give me an example of a time when you recognized that a member of your team had a performance difficulty/deficiency.  What did you do?

Impact and Influence

  • Describe a recent situation in which you convinced an individual or a group to do something.
  • Describe a time when you went through a series of steps to influence an individual or a group on an important issue.
  • Describe a situation in which you needed to influence different stakeholders with differing perspectives.

Innovation

  • Describe something you have done that was new and different for your organization, that improved performance and/or productivity.
  • Tell me about a time when you identified a new, unusual or different approach for addressing a problem or task.
  • Tell me about a recent problem in which old solutions wouldn't work.  How did you solve the problem?

Leadership

  • Tell me about a time when you had to lead a group to achieve an objective.
  • Describe a situation where you had to ensure that your "actions spoke louder than your words" to a team.
  • Describe a situation where you inspired others to meet a common goal.

Relationship Building

  • Describe a situation in which you developed an effective win/win relationship with a stakeholder or client. How did you go about building the relationship?
  • Tell me about a time when you relied on a contact in your network to help you with a work-related task or problem.
  • Give me an example of a time when you deliberately attempted to build rapport with a co-worker or customer.

Resource Management

  • Describe a situation in which you took a creative approach to resourcing to achieve a goal.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a particular resource management issue regarding either people, materials or assets.
  • Describe the options you would consider to resource a project or goal if you did not have the available resources within your own span of control.
  • Describe a situation in which you established a partnership with another organization or stakeholder to achieve a mutual goal. What steps did you take to ensure the partnership was effective?

Self-Management

  • Describe the level of stress in your job and what you do to manage it.
  • Describe a time when you were in a high pressure situation.
  • Describe a time when things didn't turn out as you had planned and you had to analyze the situation to address the issue.

Strategic Thinking

  • Describe a challenge or opportunity you identified based on your industry knowledge, and how you developed a strategy to respond to it.
  • Describe a time you created a strategy to achieve a longer term business objective.
  • Describe a time when you used your business knowledge to understand a specific business situation.

At the End of the Interview
At the end of the interview – thank them for their time and let them know that you found the interview interesting and informative and that you will look forward to their feedback.


Next Steps
The selection process usually has several rounds. At the end of each round you should receive information about the next step. You should also be given the date by which you will get feedback. Feel free to ask any questions!
Try to obtain maximum feedback, which you will learn from in order to be better prepared for the next meeting.
If the company offers you a job and you feel it is the right one for you, do not hesitate to accept it. The sooner you decide, the better impression you make on your future employer. He/she will appreciate your enthusiasm and motivation and therefore will trust you more.
If the company chooses another candidate, do not be disappointed. Just the invitation for an interview is a considerable achievement which has proved your qualities.

 

 
 

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