Congratulations, you have been invited to an interview
There’s no need to panic. The Carejobz team have put together all you need.
Scroll down to take a look through our comprehensive guide to a successful interview.
In essence this is an exciting opportunity for you the interviewee to market your self and showcase your skills and experience in relevance to an opportunity you have shown interest in and the interviewer to assess your suitability for the opportunity – you are both aiming for a good match.
Feeling nervous? Many people do and thats a good thing because it shows that we want to make a good impression.
It is important at this stage to remember at this stage that the key here is preparation because if you are unprepared, the interviewer will know and it could be game over.
So lets get started!
Preparation is KEY
It is essential that you plan carefully for every interview. An experienced interviewer will detect poor preparation and may see it as a lack of motivation or interest.
If you have an opportunity to choose the time of your interview, aim for the first or, if that has been taken, the last interview. That way you maximise the chances of “standing out” to your advantage.
Make sure you know how to get to the interview and arrive with time to spare, so that you can be as relaxed as possible given the circumstances. Don’t arrive too early though – about five minutes before your scheduled interview is an appropriate time to present yourself in Reception. If you are earlier than this, wait in the car or down the road.
It goes without saying, if you are running late for unforeseen reasons, call and make your apologies before you are late.
Be neatly groomed and conservatively dressed. Plan what you’re going to wear ahead of time and ensure it’s something you are comfortable in. Smart, clean and well pressed is always best.
Also consider your body language, especially that all-important handshake. When you get to the interview, if you are nervous and have “clammy” hands go to the bathroom and wash your hands and try not to hold anything in your right hand so that it stays nice and fresh.
When speaking with receptionists and secretaries, remember that they may later be asked by the interviewers to comment on the way candidates have conducted themselves upon arrival. Their impressions usually count for a lot in the decision making process.
Get further background information about the job, the organisation, processes and services. Do your own research into the type of company (public, private, family owned, etc), its market performance, competitors, etc, what they offer their services users (brochures etc). Google the company under “News” so you can talk about any “positive” news with your interviewers.
Obtain a copy of the job description from your recruiter and outline your experience in the responsibilities. Take this to the interview and relate to it when asked about your experience to assess what you have to offer – relevant strengths, experience and skills, memorising the five or six most important points.
Have a thumbnail sketch of yourself on the tip of your tongue when the question is asked “Tell me something about yourself…” This sketch should cover what sort of person you are, your education, work experience, career goals, interests, etc. Learn this by heart. There is often a gold opportunity to “tell your story” for an uninterrupted couple of minutes near the beginning of an interview. Be careful not to have any negatives in this sketch, light humour and achievements are favoured.
Identify questions which will pose difficulties for you, and consider how to answer them. Practise your answers.
Study some new developments in your field; a common question over which many candidates stumble relates to new developments “Where do you think the industry is heading?”
Discuss the interview with your family, especially matters affecting them, such as relocation.
If you have a medical condition which you feel could prejudice your application, or ability to carry out the role, consider how you would respond to questions about your health.
Know what your last employer will say about the reason for you moving on. Many interviewees say one thing and the last employer another, which comes out in reference checking. Some employers will carry out their own reference checks with who you provide on the application form, so best to make sure that you have spoken to your referees and that they are happy to give you a. satisfactory reference. Always let your referees know that someone is about to contact them. Pick your moment, probably not a good idea to ask for a reference the same day that you resign.
Find out the names and positions of the interviewers, and look on Linked IN for an idea of their background. Ask them what they like about working for the company.
It is not a good idea to discuss salary at an interview. The interviewer may ask you how much you want. If you feel “put on the spot” you may say an amount under the offer that they have in mind, or an amount that they will not consider. Always let your recruiter know your lowest base salary expectation before the interview and let them negotiate it for you.
Walk Tall – A confident posture can help create feelings of confidence. Walking, standing or sitting with your shoulders back, not slouched forward, sit up straight, with your hands relaxed and on your lap. You want your body language to be open, friendly and engaging, so make good eye contact and be animated. This all helps you project more confidence. Even when you’re feeling anxious, a change in your physical posture can improve your emotional state. A straight posture also lets you breathe more deeply and freely. Breathing deeply relieves stress in the body and relaxes the mind.
Breath – It’s normal to breathe more quickly and to take shorter breaths when you feel nervous or anxious. Increased rates of respiration are an unconscious physiological response to perceived or actual threats to survival. Although it might feel this way, a job interview doesn’t pose any real danger to your physical survival. Taking control of your breathing is one way you can overcome feelings of extreme nervousness both before and during your job interview. Deep breathing is one of the most beneficial ways to tame anxiety and nervousness. Breathe deeply, inhaling through your nose and exhaling out of your mouth, for several minutes prior to your interview to calm down and relax. If you start to feel nervous during your interview, pausing for a moment and taking a deep breath can help you re-focus. A pause suggests you are thinking sensibly about a question and is therefore a positive action.
Dont forget to be human: The danger of rehearsing answers, preening yourself and making eye contact is that you can end up looking like an extra at a rehearsal. Yes, the company is looking for someone who can improve productivity, but they’re also looking for a co-worker. So don’t worry about making a joke or laughing at something. The interview is a dialogue between two people. The more it can feel like a natural conversation the better. Break the ice with some small talk and remember, your panel is flesh and blood with the same habits, pains and fears that you have.
Sometimes the interviewer is nervous too.
Leaning Back too much — you come off lazy or arrogant.
Leaning forward — can seem aggressive. Aim for a neutral posture.
Breaking eye contact too soon — can make you seem untrustworthy or overly nervous.
Hold eye contact when engaging in conversation and during a handshake.
Nodding too much — Even if you agree with what’s being said, nod once or twice at the most and then try to remain still.
Chopping or pointing with your hands — feels aggressive.
Crossing your arms — makes you look defensive, especially when you’re answering questions. Try to keep your arms at your sides.
Fidgeting — instantly telegraphs how nervous you are. Avoid it at all costs.
Holding your hands behind your back (or firmly in your pockets) — can look rigid and stiff. Aim for a natural, hands at your sides posture.
Looking up or looking around — is a natural cue that someone is lying or not being themselves. Try to hold steady eye contact.
Staring — can be interpreted as aggressive. There’s a fine line between holding someone’s gaze and staring them down.
Failing to smile — can make people uncomfortable, and wonder if you really want to be there. Go for a genuine smile especially when meeting someone for the first time.
Stepping back when you’re asking for a decision — conveys fear or uncertainty. Stand your ground, or even take a slight step forward with conviction.
Steepling your fingers or holding palms up — looks like a begging position and conveys weakness.
Standing with hands on hips — is an aggressive posture.
Checking your phone or watch — says you want to be somewhere else.
So, what should you do?
Aim for good posture in a neutral position, whether sitting or standing.
Stand with your arms at your sides, and sit with them at your sides or with your hands in your lap.
Pay attention so that you naturally hold eye contact, smile, and be yourself.
If you discover you have a particular problem with one or two of the gestures on the list, practice by yourself with a mirror or with a friend who can remind you every time you do it, until you become aware of the bad habit yourself.
Can you recall a time someone’s body language made you uncomfortable? Are there any other body language blunders you would add?
Things to avoid:
The interviewer will be evaluating your negative factors as well as your positive attributes. Listed below are negative factors frequently evaluated during the course of an interview and which often lead to rejection:
· Poor personal appearance
· Overbearing, over aggressive, superior or defensive behaviour
· Inability to express ideas clearly, poor poise, grammar and diction
. Talking about your previous employer in a negative manner
. Not researching the company
. Not reading the job description
· Lack of purpose or goals
· Lack of interest and enthusiasm
· Lack of confidence, excessive nervousness
. Failure to ask questions
· Evasiveness and making excuses for past behaviour
· Lack of tact, maturity and courtesy
· Failure to look interviewer in the eye
· Limp / weak handshake
· Persistent attitude of ‘What can you do for me?’
· Lack of preparation for the interview
Interview questions you may be asked:
You will be asked a variety of questions. Some may be a bit challenging. Just take your time and think about each answer.
Keep your answers relevant to the question and don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat any questions.
The client is very keen on communication skills, so they will be assessing you on how you articulate your answers and how you interpret things. When preparing for an interview you should put together a bank of example questions and prepare answers. Here’s a list of common interview questions to get you started:
Behavioural / Situational type questions (Most interviews are conducted this way)
ABILITY TO HANDLE STRESS
What has been the most stressful situation you have ever found yourself in at work? How did you handle it?
What have you done in the past to prevent a situation from becoming too stressful for you or your colleagues to handle?
Tell me about a situation in which you have had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
Tell me about a time when you had to adjust to a colleague’s working style in order to complete a project or achieve your objectives.
How was your transition from high school to university? Did you face any particular problems? How did you handle them?
ANALYTICAL SKILLS / PROBLEM SOLVING
Describe the project or situation that best demonstrates your analytical abilities. What was your role?
Tell me about a time when you had to analyze information and make a recommendation. What kind of thought process did you go through? Was the recommendation accepted? If not, why?
Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem. What did you do? What was the outcome? What do you wish you had done differently?
What steps do you follow to study a problem before making a decision? Why?
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
What process do you use to check that you have the right details from a customer?
Give me an example of a time you discovered an error that been overlooked by a colleague. What did you do? What was the outcome?
Tell me about a time that you were confused by a customer’s request. What steps did you take to clarify things?
CLIENT FOCUS / CUSTOMER ORIENTATION
When have you had to deal with an irate customer? What did you do? How did the situation end up?
Tell me about a time you have “inherited” a customer. What steps did you take to establish rapport with them? What did you do to gain their trust?
How have you handled a situation in the past where your client has changed the brief or “changed the goalposts”?
Give an example of a time you went well out of your way to ensure a customer received the best possible service from you and organisation. What was their reaction?
When have you ever gone out on a limb to defend a customer? What happened?
Tell me about a recent successful experience in making a speech or presentation?
When have you had to present to a group of people with little or no preparation? What obstacles did you face? How did you handle them?
Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your co-workers? How did you do it?
Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa).
What obstacles or difficulties have you ever faced in communicating your ideas to a manager?
Tell me about a time in which you had to use your written communication skills in order to get an important point across.
When have you chosen to communicate a particular message in person as opposed to via email even though the email channel would have been a lot faster?
When was the last time you thought “outside the box” and how did you do it? Why?
Tell me about a problem that you’ve solved in a unique or unusual way. What was the outcome? Were you happy or satisfied with it?
Give me an example of when someone brought you a new idea that was odd or unusual. What did you do?
When have you brought an innovative idea into your team? How was it received?
Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without all the information you needed. How did you handle it?
Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision. What obstacles did you face?
What is the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make at work? How did you arrive at your decision? What was the result?
Give me an example of a business decision you made that you ultimately regretted. What happened?
Give me an example of an important career goal which you set yourself and tell me how you reached it. What obstacles did you encounter? How did you overcome the obstacles?
Tell me about a professional goal that you set that you did not reach. How did it make you feel?
How have you gone about setting short-term goals and long-term goals for yourself or your team? What steps did you take along the way to keep yourself accountable?
Describe a project or idea (not necessarily your own) that was implemented primarily because of your efforts. What was your role? What was the outcome?
Describe a situation in which you recognized a potential problem as an opportunity. What did you do? What was the result? What, if anything, do you wish you had done differently?
Tell me about a project you initiated. What did you do? Why? What was the outcome? Were you happy with the result?
Tell me about a time when your initiative caused a change to occur.
What has been the best idea you have come up with during your professional career?
Discuss a time when your integrity was challenged. How did you handle it?
Tell me about a time when you experienced a loss for doing what is right. How did you react?
Tell me about a business situation when you felt honesty was inappropriate. Why? What did you do?
Give a specific example of a policy you conformed to with which you did not agree. Why?
Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. How/why was this person difficult? How did you handle it? How did the relationship progress?
Describe a situation where you found yourself dealing with someone who didn’t like you. How did you handle it?
Describe a recent unpopular decision you made. How was it received? How did you handle it?
What, in your opinion, are the key ingredients in guiding and maintaining successful business relationships? Give me examples of how you have made these work for you.
Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully communicate with another person even when that individual may not have personally liked you (or vice versa). How did you handle the situation?
Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team with someone you did not get along with. What happened?
Describe a situation where you had a conflict with another individual, and how you dealt with it. What was the outcome? How did you feel about it?
Tell me about a team project when you had to take charge of the project? What did you do? What was the result?
Describe a leadership role of yours outside of work. Why did you commit your time to it? How did you feel about it?
What is the toughest group that you have ever had to lead? What were the obstacles? How did you handle the situation?
What has been your greatest leadership achievement in a professional environment? Talk through the steps you took to reach it.
What have been the greatest obstacles you have faced in building/growing a team?
Describe a time when you have not only been responsible for leading a team of people but for also doing the same job as your team members? How did you juggle/balance your time?
PLANNING AND ORGANISATION / TIME MANAGEMENT
Describe a situation that required you to do a number of things at the same time. How did you handle it? What was the result?
How do you prioritize projects and tasks when scheduling your time? Give me some examples.
Tell me about a project that you planned. How did your organize and schedule the tasks? Tell me about your action plan.
When has a project or event you organised not gone according to plan? What happened? Why? How did you feel?
SALES / NEGOTIATION
Tell me about your previous success in sales KPI’s. How did you meet them?
What is your greatest sales-related achievement to date? What steps led to the final outcome?
What was the most stressful professional negotiation you have been involved in? How did you handle it?
Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
Tell me about a time when you worked with a colleague who was not doing their share of the work. How did you handle it?
Describe a situation in which you had to arrive at a compromise or help others to compromise. What was your role? What steps did you take? What was the result?
Tell me about a time when you had to work on a team that did not get along. What happened? What role did you take? What was the result?
What was the biggest mistake you have made when delegating work as part of a team project?
Tell me about a time when you had settle a dispute between team members. How did you go about identifying the issues? What was the result?
What have you found to be the difficult part of being a member, not leader, of a team? How did you handle this?
TENACITY / RESILIENCE
Tell me about a particular work-related setback you have faced. How did you deal with it?
When have you ever found yourself in a competitive situation professionally? How did you handle it?
When have you seen your tenacity or resilience really pay off in a professional setting? What was the outcome?
Biographical interview questions
Tell me about yourself?
Why did you choose this particular vocation?
What interests you about our products and services?
Why do you want to work for this particular organisation?
Why are you leaving your current job?
Why have you applied to us?
What are you strengths?
What are you weaknesses?
What style of management works the best for you?
What have you done which shows initiative in your career?
What do you think determines a person’s progress in a company?
Are you willing to travel?
How do you spend your spare time?
What does teamwork mean to you?
What five adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
What motivates you?
Where do you see yourself in five years / ten years?
What is your greatest achievement?
Do you prefer to work as part of a team or independently?
We have had applications from a number of highly qualified candidates, why should we hire you?
If I were to speak to your family / friends / boss, how would they describe you?
What is your management style?
What do you enjoy about your current role?
What do you dislike about your current role?
What element of this role do you think you would dislike the most?
What is your current remuneration?
What are your salary expectations?
What is your biggest disappointment?
What other jobs have you applied for and at what stage in the recruitment process are you at?
Competency based interview questions
These questions will almost always start with ‘Give me an example of when you…’
took a difficult / unpopular decision and how did you deal with this
disagreed with your boss and what action did you take to address the dispute
were part of a badly performing team and how did you address this
identified and addressed a serious operational / financial problem
delivered results within a highly pressurised situation
Stress interview / difficult questions
You seem a little over qualified?
You seem a little under qualified?
This role requires extensive sales experience, but this does seem to be lacking in your CV?
You have a number of employment gaps in your CV?
How do you feel this interview is going?
Some people may consider your attitude to be a little ‘cocky’ – what would you say to this?
What is the biggest mistake you have ever made?
If you are invited to a Panel Interview, already panic may well have set in. It can almost seem like an interrogation with a standard panel comprising three people, though this may vary in number from two to five. Usually at least one panel member will be a supervisor or manager from the immediate work area, and another will be an independent member from another business unit.
To ensure all applicants are assessed fairly against the same criteria, the panel will have prepared a list of questions. These questions may be weighted to reflect the importance of the criterion point being assessed. Unless you are told otherwise, all criteria in the selection criteria will have equal weighting, and applicants will need to satisfy all criteria.
Your answers are usually point scored against the expected and those of the other applications. At the end of the interviews, the applicant with the highest score is usually awarded the position, provided they meet all the required criteria.
Panel interviews are not as difficult as they may seem. A few points to help you perform at your best:
If the room set up allows it, greet each member of the panel with a handshake.
The panel members usually have a set procedure they wish to follow. Allow them to control the direction of the interview.
When answering a question, make the majority of your eye contact with the person who asked the question. Still give occasional eye contact to the other panel members.
Take your time to think of your answers. What feels like an unusually long pause to you will seem like a short time to the panel. The pause will simply make you look thoughtful and considered to the panel.
Try not to be intimidated by the panel. Although they may seem serious to you, they want you to perform as well as possible, and are unlikely to ask difficult questions just for the sake of tripping you up.
If you are not sure what was meant by the question, ask for clarification – don’t guess.
Keep your answers focussed and to the point. If you are not sure whether you have provided sufficient information, ask the questioner for clarification.
Remember that others on the shortlist will be feeling exactly the same way you do.
Most panels do not ask yes/no questions. They want you to do the talking. In fact, the panel are not really doing their job unless you are doing at least 75% of the talking.
Generally, you will be asked to summarise your claims to the position. Use this opportunity to make a final statement about why you are well suited for the position. Remember, it is only a summary, so keep it brief and to the point.
Mentally tick off, as they arise in the interview, those five or six key reasons why you should be considered for the position. Find opportunities to raise those that have not been touched on.
Our clients specify that they expect interviewees to have a list of questions to ask at the interview.
You might like to ask questions about:
The reason the position is available?
Organisation/sector growth plans?
What is the single largest problem facing your staff and would I be in a position to help you solve this problem? This question not only shows that you are immediately thinking about how you can help the team, it also encourages the interviewer to envision you working at the position.
What have you enjoyed most about working here? This question allows the interviewer to connect with you on a more personal level, sharing his or her feelings. The answer will also give you unique insight into how satisfied people are with their jobs there. If the interviewer is pained to come up with an answer to your question, it’s a big red flag.
Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with? Notice how the question is phrased; it assumes you will get the job. This question also tells you about the people you will interact with on a daily basis, so listen to the answer closely.
Who previously held this position? This seemingly straightforward question will tell you whether that person was promoted or fired or if he/she quit or retired. That, in turn, will provide a clue to whether: there’s a chance for advancement, employees are unhappy, the place is in turmoil or the employer has workers around your age.
What is the next step in the process? This is the essential last question and one you should definitely ask. It shows that you’re interested in moving along in the process and invites the interviewer to tell you how many people are in the running for the position.