An interview is the first step you will take to meeting and making first contact with your potential employer. This is the most important stage in terms of making the right impression and leaving the interviewer no choice but to take you on. There are too many people who fall at this crucial hurdle, they see interviews at first glance as a daunting and very uncomfortable process in which they need to struggle their way through. With these simple tips which are built for success you will be able to conquer the nerves and make interviews a far less fearsome proposition.
1) To do’s
2) To avoid
3) Dress to impress
When entering, an interview being dressed appropriately is vital to your first impression. When meeting for the first time with an employer it will last in their memory and recent surveys suggest that most employers will decide on whether the candidate will be hired within the first 5 minutes.
What should I wear? (Men)
What should I wear? (Women)
4) How to prepare for a competency based interview
Competency based interviews are generally known as skills based tests or behavioural/structured interviews. These types of interviews take experience and predict what future performance is possible using said experience. The manager/interviewer involved within managing the process will be seeking examples of past behaviour and skills used, that can provide a full evaluation and conclusion to what potential future performance may be possible.
4.1 What happens in a competency interview?
The interview will begin with a series of questions along the lines of: "Describe a situation when...Give an example of when you have...". Once answered, you will then generally be prompted for further information. Once exhausted, the interviewer will move onto the next subject and try to avoid any discussion. When all possible topics have been evaluated then you may have to chance to ask your own questions. Although this may feel like an unnatural type of interview technique, it is a rigid and fair way of processing an interview due to all candidates being asked the same questions.
4.2 How can I prepare for a competency based interview?
The first thing to recommend would be to take an A4 pad of paper. A pen may also be needed but these 2 things will form a basis for the interview. You will need to the take this to the interview and use it to increase your chances of being offered the vacant role by up to 40% due to information you will be able to take down on your pad and use. Once at the interview proceed with these steps:
Step 1: Read the brochure provided by the employer and take down job description skills with you may need to produce in the interview. Then proceed to try and jot down any times you may have used these competencies and skills, any examples can be used whether from current/previous employment, voluntary work, holidays, travel or even personal and fimly experiences.
Step 2: Try to write at least a paragraph on each individual situation and outline what happened, how you used them competencies to your advantage and why you chose that time as appropriate to use them skills in that situation. Try to use the STAR format:
The main focus of the paragraphs should be yourself and your part in the situation, even if you were in a group you are the focus of the task and you only are being evaluated. It is vital that you speak to your contact in order to gain any other information that you may be able to utilise to prepare.
Step 3: Once you have gained all the relevant information you may need, you can then proceed to make a few lists of the examples you feel can best illustrate the required competence. These may even be the first things you answer in the interview so make sure your list is well written and easily able to use points of importance.
When you are trying to jot down some examples of situations, they don’t particularly need to be high level examples involving complex cases, they just need to be relevant. If there only seems to be one isolated area then you may not be at a complete loss, providing the areas you are strong within counter balance your lack of experience and skills within the area in question.
4.3 Good questions to ask the Interviewer
Asking questions is a must, even if they have vaguely been covered during the interview. Asking questions can let the interviewer see you are enthusiastic and prepared to only gain your own views on the job role in question, but have an interest in your own development and what may be required in the future/ during the period of employment. Try to prepare at least 6 different types of questions, usually in different areas or sectors of the job role/ company/ Qualifications etc. Doing so will enable you to cover the 3 different scenarios which can occur, and not leave you frustrated after the interview that you haven’t found out certain information.
Questions about the job
Training and appraisals
Prospects and opportunities
These questions are the basis for questions you will want to ask in the interview. You will need to amend the questions and make them relevant to your interview and role. Preparing properly can avoid getting stuck with asking a question just for the sake of it. Therefore, be careful when asking a question as you may have already been given this information pre-interview, and make sure you want to know the answer to your question.
4.4 When in the interview
Once you have properly prepared yourself for eventualities and every possible situation, it is time to get in that interview and show them what you have done. Make sure you take your notes with you and have it in easy reading distance on a surface or on your lap. Always ask if you can take notes, and the answer will always be yes, it always shows you are keep to not only know the role, but you are enthusiastic about your own development and career, a trait generally shown in peoples careers when displayed in their personal life. If possible try to take notes very obviously, this can show the interviewer you are interested in their responses. Note down important facts as well as answers to your own questions. You can then use your pad to ask at least 2 of your questions. If you are interested in the role, try to say during the interview. Don’t be shy or laid back, if you are interested make sure the employers knows your passionate about taking the job, as this will leave a lasting impression.
5) Why do I need to use all these preparations?
These preparations before the interview can improve your chances of landing the job by up to 40%, facts and figures may not convince some people, but the fact you have now prepared for every possibility will leave you feeling comfortable when a situation arises as you have a plan, in the interview, in your pad, with you! The nerves will brush aside and the natural, confidence will start to flow out into your interview style, making you more marketable and presentable candidates for the role you are applying for. If you still aren’t convinced, then consider the following:
Good luck !