Archives For Job interview

Calendar mark with Interview

If you are serious about your upcoming job interview, here’s what you need to do to ensure success:

Your interest level
Are you genuinely interested in the job? Will this opportunity give you the stepping stones to help develop your career? Your interview won’t be successful unless you can show 100% commitment.

Read the job description again
Make sure you are very clear about the job requirements and the skills the employer is looking for. Try to anticipate what questions you are likely to be asked and prepare your answers. Have examples of situations you have experienced that could relate to the job you have applied for. Also think about some intelligent questions that you can ask towards the end of the interview.

Do your research
Research the company thoroughly, as well as the department and team you would be joining. You can often find useful details from the company’s website as well as blog posts and their social media sites. You want to be knowledgeable about what they do and be aware of any new acquisitions/products/services.

Your strengths and weaknesses
Think about what you are good at and what you’re not so good at as there will always be a question relating to these. We all have weaknesses (or areas for development / improvement), so be prepared with your answer. You can often turn a weakness into a positive. Importantly you want to show that you are already making progress on improvement. This will show the interviewer that you are self-aware and driven to succeed.

Site visit
If possible, visit the venue where you will be having your interview beforehand. This will take away your worries about how to get there or how long the journey will be. And you will have more insight about the environment and the people. If it’s a hotel job, ask for a showround so you are familiar with the product. You will feel more relaxed and comfortable with this preparation – you could even slip into the conversation during interview that you visited earlier, an impressive way to show your eagerness!

Dress sense
Plan in advance what you are going to wear for your interview and make sure you dress appropriately. How formal/informal is the company? If in doubt, it is better to wear a smart suit than casual attire. But be conservative! The focus needs to be on you, the person. Avoid bright, dazzling clothes – and go easy on the make-up, nail polish etc.

Interpretation of your CV
Print off a copy of your CV and bring it with you, just in case the interviewer doesn’t have it to hand. Be prepared to answer questions relating to any gaps or unusual content in your CV. You need to be bold and confident about your experience and achievements, and have good reasons for any variances.

All set. Good luck!


Video interview - Tell us about yourself - detail
It’s the opening interviewing question that all employers want to ask: “Tell me about yourself”. As a professional recruiter or hiring manager, you will have many structured questions to ask the candidate that relate to their current job, such as how they cope in certain situations and what value they can bring to your organisation, but the great ice-breaker question that has stood the test of time is: “Tell me about yourself”

There is good reason for this question as it tends to work well for both interviewer and interviewee. The candidate has the opportunity to pitch herself and effectively present her case for ‘Why me’, while the interviewer can use this time to evaluate the person.

In less than 2 minutes of answering the question the interviewer will have subliminally processed information about what they see and hear. This quick evaluation is more on the presentation, inflection, body language, enthusiasm and mannerisms of the candidate than the actual words spoken.

It may seem unfair, but the substance of the answer to this opening question is not particularly important; it’s the delivery that counts. The content becomes more critical later on in the interview process, possibly in a 2nd or final interview.

93% of communication is about what you see and hear

Nonverbal communication is extremely powerful, and the model devised by psychologist Dr Albert Mehrabian (below) has become one of the most widely referenced statistics in communications:

  • 55% of communication is visual (your body language)
  • 38% of communication is your voice (tone, inflection, etc)
  • 7% is verbal (your words)

Furthermore, according to psychologists Willis & Todorov, it takes just one-tenth of a second for someone to judge and make their first impression (See “First Impressions” 2006). Of course, professional recruiters will spend more time to decide if a candidate should be selected or eliminated, but not much more time.

In the early stage screening process, a couple of minutes should be sufficient. There’s no need for a full blown interview.

To save time, ask the classic question in a Video Interview

When you are next screening candidates (beyond the CV), think about how much time you actually need to spend. Your 2 minute evaluation on candidates answering “Tell me about yourself” can be just as effective via a recorded video interview as it is in a live face-to-face interview.

The advantage of recorded video is that it can take you just 2 minutes to review one candidate, before clicking to the next candidate, and then the next.

You can’t achieve this speed and efficiency when interviewing candidates in person.

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“Tell us about yourself” and “Why do you want to work with us?”. They sound such straightforward questions, but the interviewer will hang on every word you say.

“Tell us about yourself.”

It’s an open-ended question that always comes up, usually near the beginning of the interview. It sounds like an easy one to answer – But it isn’t.

You have only a few seconds to create an impression to the interviewer and engage. If you get off to a shaky start, that first impression can be difficult to change. So make your story interesting and upbeat. You can start by saying which city you grew up in if you want, but focus on what is likely to be most relevant, such as your recent career.

If there is no interaction from the interviewer, nor body language signals to suggest you should keep talking, I wouldn’t spend any longer than one minute to tell your ‘story’. Don’t make this a long, drawn out monologue; only continue if the interviewer interjects and clearly shows interest.

“Why do you want to work with us?”

Can the interviewer envisage you working for their company and fitting with their corporate culture? Too many candidates give a standard ‘I want work for XYZ company because it has a great reputation and a friendly atmosphere’ And they regurgitate similar words for every job they apply for.

This is your chance to shine and stand out from other candidates. Do some thorough research on the company and try to find a hook that can give you a great answer. eg. ‘I’m very excited about XYZ’s expansion plans announced last month, and I want to join a company where I can develop my career and contribute to your company’s successful growth.’

The interviewer will probably take more note of your answers to these questions than any other in the interview, so make sure you are well prepared.

Interview in progressIn a candidate driven market, employers need to step up their game when interviewing candidates.

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW…

Ditch the boring job descriptions
Firstly, you need to make the job appealing to attract candidates. Too many employers issue job descriptions outlining tasks, duties and minimum requirements. The generic content often gives no insight into what it is like to work for your organisation.

Empathise with candidates and get into their zone. Promote the job by adding excitement, demonstrate your company culture and ethos and show that you provide great career development opportunities. Better still, create a short informal video and talk about the job and your company on camera with clips from your team members. Video is much more engaging than boring text.

Respect all candidates and communicate
It might be a nightmare to process hundreds of applicants – that’s where video interviewing can come in very handy – but the application process shouldn’t be a ‘black hole’ as it’s often referred to in recruitment circles. Candidates should always be informed where they stand with clear communication, whether or not they are selected for an interview.

Review the CV again before the interview
Be prepared and read the candidate’s CV again just before you meet so that you know a bit about the person and where they are currently working. The candidate is assessing you as much as you are assessing the candidate.

THE INTERVIEW…

Be punctual for the interview
You expect your candidates to arrive on time for the interview. And so should you! Don’t keep the candidate waiting. Any longer than five minutes is unacceptable. Again, empathise – Think what the candidate is thinking and make sure you create the right impression for you and your organisation.

First impressions count
Candidates in an interview situation are typically nervous with heightened senses. They will notice the smallest details and observe your body language so make sure you are well prepared and ready with good questions.

Engage with your candidates
Treat your interviewees as you would your best customer. Open the conversation with some small talk to act as an ice-breaker. You want to make them feel comfortable before launching into your interview questions. Make sure your interview style is open and engaging. An intimidating or patronising approach will serve no purpose. If you ease a candidate’s nerves it will be much easier to gauge how you think that person would fit in your workplace.

Introduce to work colleagues
It’s a good idea to have other stakeholders in the hiring process on stand-by at the time of the interview. If you have a strong candidate in front of you, you could then introduce him/her to others – perhaps the department head. The ideal situation would be to roll this interview into a second interview to advance the process, but even if it is just a quick ‘hello’ this will engage the candidate more and help to get buy in.

AFTER THE INTERVIEW…

Act quickly!
If you like the candidate and feel he/she is well matched to the job and your organisation, you need to follow up immediately. Good talent gets snapped up quickly so make sure you communicate with next steps (or better still, the job offer) before other employers woo the candidate. Many great candidates are lost due to the employer’s delay in the hiring process. If you want the best in a candidate driven market, you have to move fast.

Interview in calendarWe have looked at Preparation for your Job Interview and now it’s time. Your interview is today! Here’s what you need to do for a successful outcome:

Don’t be late
It sounds obvious but so many candidates arrive late because they underestimate traffic etc. Whatever the excuse is, lateness creates the wrong first impression and you will probably be flustered throughout the interview worrying rather than focusing on your responses to the questions asked.

Body language
The first few minutes of your interview are critical when there is non-verbal communication. Compose yourself, take in the environment, gauge the mood, listen and observe. Read the situation and mirror the interviewer. If he/she is very formal, then you should be too. And if they are quite casual, take a similar approach but don’t come across as over-familiar – particularly at the start of the interview.

Get their attention
Does it feel like you’re the tenth candidate they’ve met today?! If so, you need to uplift the interview and instil new energy. Good eye contact and a warm smile will give you a good start. Sit appropriately – generally upright but lean forward occasionally to engage and show interest. Don’t slump in your chair as this will disengage and make you seem aloof and/or arrogant.

Let the interviewer lead the conversation
There’s likely to be small talk at the beginning which will help break the ice for you and the employer. Go with it and engage but don’t get carried away! Know when to stop so they can move on to the actual interview questions.

Answer the questions
When candidates are nervous it’s easy to go off on a tangent and ramble. Engage with the interviewer and take in the body language. Are they listening to you? Or are they just looking through you? If you are losing them, STOP! That will get their attention and you can then pull the interviewer back into the conversation and provide more snappy answers. Show passion, enthusiasm and humility. Frame your answers as if you would be working for them so that the employer can envisage what it would be like to have you on board. And if the interviewer asks a difficult question that you don’t know the answer to, it’s much better to say “I don’t know, that’s something I would like to find out” than trying to wing it with a poor answer. Honesty is always best.

Ask intelligent questions
Depending on the formality, it may be appropriate to ask questions during the interview, but generally your questions should come towards the end. Usually the interviewer will offer you this opportunity. Make sure your questions will contribute to your performance. Asking about company growth, future plans, scope of the job clearly demonstrates your interest level in joining the employer for the foreseeable future. Don’t ask unimaginative questions where you could have easily found out the answers. And in a first interview situation, don’t ask for micro details about the job – It’s not very relevant at this stage and it may suggest that you are concerned about whether the job is right for you – or whether you can actually do the job!

Get hooked!
Likeability is key to a positive outcome. Let your personality shine through so that the employer likes you and wants you. Too many candidates go into an interview with the attitude of “What’s in it for me?” (ie why should I work for you?) which creates a bad aura from the start and then they wonder why they weren’t invited for a second interview! Employers want to hire ‘can-do’ people with a positive attitude. In regards to salary, you should know roughly what the package is before going into an interview so that it meets your expectation but don’t ask about this or holidays or hours of work in your interview. Of course this information is important to you but it can be discussed at a much later stage in the process when you know they are keen to hire you.

Keep the door open
Always be courteous, however the interview has gone. You never know where this could lead you, even if this particular job is not for you.

Sincere thanks
First impressions count – and so do last impressions! Make sure you ‘close’ the interview positively. Thank the interviewer and let them know that you are very interested. And don’t be afraid to ask what the next steps might be. When you get home, send a short ‘thank you’ email. If you were the tenth candidate interviewed that day, you want to make sure you are remembered!

Click here for ‘Job Interview Preparation Tips’.