Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tackling Interviews Head On

I don't think I have ever met someone who loves job interviews. Why is that? Surely there are some people out there who could talk about themselves all day - LOL!

I think our fear of interviews often comes down to the unknown. Most of the time, we don't know the people we will be talking to, so it is difficult to know if it will be a relaxed or formal interview with easy or difficult questions.

It is safe to say that there are some things we just can't control. On the other hand, you can control how prepared you are.
  • Know the location, time and who you will be meetingat least 36 hours before the interview.
  • Dress up! It is always better to be dressed up than dressed down.
  • Do some research on the company. Use the internet and look up people on LinkedIn.
  • Review the job advertisement. Can you do everything it says? What about the key competencies? How can you demonstrate your suitability?
  • Know your flexibility requirements.
  • Don't lie about anything.
  • If you are asked to give examples using prior work experience, refer to experiences on the past 5 years.
  • Always speak positively about yourself and focus on successful outcomes you have been part of.

Remember that nearly 50% of getting a job comes down to your perceived 'culture fit' with the organisation. Just be yourself, respond to the best of your ability, and see where it gets you.

Interview questions

The typical traditional recruitment questions include:
  • What are your greatest strengths or weaknesses?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or in a group?
  • How would you describe yourself as a person?
  • What did you enjoy most / least about your last position?
  • Where do you want to be in 5 years?
  • How well do you work under pressure?
  • How would your co-workers describe you?
  • Describe the best boss you have ever had.

Certainly consider these questions in your preparation. There is now more of an emphasis on behavioural based questions which involves actual behaviour / performance of the candidate based on the core competencies required of the advertised role. Look for the core competencies in the job description. If they don't state the key competencies in the advertisement, ask the contact for them.

Make sure you pay close attention to the key comptencies the employer is looking for and start to consider examples of work you have done that reflect these competencies.

Try not to use your children in your responses. Your responses must be workplace related.

Think of these responses as telling a story.

Examples of competency-based bahavioural interview questions:

Conflict Management

  • Describe a time when you facilitated a creative solution to a problem between employees.
  • Tell me about a recent success you had with an especially difficult employee or coworker.

Customer Focus

  • Give me an example of a time you effectively used your peole skills to solve a customer problem.
  • Tell me about a time when you encountered a customer who was complaining of poor service. What did you do?


Describe for me a situation where two individuals or parties were at odds, and you helped to negotiate a win:win solution.

Strategic Planning

  • Tell me about a strategic opportunity you identified and pursued.

Team Work (Encouraging and building)

  • Describe a time you led a team of people who didn’t always see eye to eye. What did you do? Why did you choose to do that? How did it work out?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this - very timely! I'm going for a job interview on Friday - going back to work after 3 years off with my kiddlies. A bit nervous! The best advice I have been given so far is 'enjoy it as kid free time if nothing else' ... Your info is way more practical and helps me to put my head in the right space to prep for it. Ta! Kate F