Tag: Job interview

Preparation is the key to success at job interviews

The more preparation you do before your interview, the more confident and relaxed you will feel at the interview. Here are some key steps to take before, during and after the interview to enhance your chances of being successful.

Before the interview

Review the skills and knowledge requirements listed in the position description and think of relevant examples that you could use to demonstrate how you have developed those skills.

Practice responding to interview questions. You can do this by yourself, perhaps in front of a mirror, or with a friend. In the section below we outline some common interview questions, these are a good place to start, but you can also try to think of other questions, particularly technical questions related to your occupational area.

Read as much information as you can about the company, including annual reports and news articles. Write down any questions that you have about what you have read, and ask these at the interview.

Use LinkedIn to view the profiles of the people who will be on the interview panel. This may help you understand their backgrounds and identify anything you have in common with them

Watch a short video about preparing for an interview.

At the interview

Here are some tips to help you to plan ahead and maximise your chances of success.

 On arrival

Plan to arrive at the interview location ten minutes before your interview – then find a quiet spot to collect your thoughts for five minutes before you ‘check in’. This is a good time to turn off your mobile phone.

When you arrive at the office, approach the reception desk and introduce yourself and the reason you are there. For example “Good morning, my name is… and I am here for the 10.30am interview with….” Reception staff are often asked their opinion of how candidates behaved in the waiting area, so make sure you are always polite and courteous to everyone you encounter when on the premises.

Meeting the interviewers

When you are introduced to the interviewers, smile, greet them by name, look them in the eye and firmly shake hands. This is not only good manners but it conveys confidence. In Australia, it is expected that you will shake hands with men and women in a business situation.

Once you have been shown to your chair, make sure you sit upright, perhaps even leaning very slightly forward to show that you are interested and appear enthusiastic.

During the interview

Smile! Part of the reason the employer wants to meet you is to find out whether you will fit into the work group. A smile tends to indicate someone who is friendly and warm.

Maintain eye contact. This shows confidence and sincerity. If you are being interviewed by more than one person, direct most of your answer to the person who asked the question but occasionally include the rest of the panel by glancing in their direction.

If you don’t understand a question, seek clarification. You can do this by simply asking the interviewer to repeat the question or paraphrasing it back to them to ensure you have understood it correctly

Ask the questions you have prepared beforehand – and any others that have come to mind during the course of the interview.

End the interview on a positive note by smiling, thanking the interviewer for their time and shaking their hand.

After the interview

Take time to reflect on your performance.

  • What did you do well?
  • What questions did you find hard?
  • How could you improve in the future?

If you were unsuccessful, ask if you can have some feedback. Some organisations will be unwilling to do this but they will respect your right to ask and the initiative that you have shown in doing so. Those who are willing to give you feedback will usually do it in a constructive way so that you learn from the experience.

If you are interested in learning how to use your posture or body language to demonstrate confidence, take a look at this TED talk by social psychologist Amy Cuddy.

Get a head start—job interviews via video

Following quite a recent trend, some companies conduct screening interviews by video instead of by phone. Here’s how it works. First, you are sent an email inviting you to complete a video interview. You are given a web link which you click on to access a secure website. Once there, you may be able to see the questions you will be asked and perhaps you’ll also have a chance to practice your response before completing your recording. All you need to complete a video interview is a computer and webcam.

For companies, video screening has a number of advantages. Continue reading

Get a head start—group interviews

Group interviews are a popular way for employers to assess a large number of applicants in a cost-effective and quick way. They’re often used to determine qualities such as communication, leadership and team work, and are a good way to assess how well candidates are likely to behave in a stressful environment.

Normally an employer will begin a group interview with a presentation about the company and give participants the opportunity to introduce themselves. Continue reading

Get a head start—face-to-face interviews

Being interviewed for a role you really want by people you’ve (usually) never met before can be nerve-wracking. Here are some tips to help you prepare for success.

One-on-one interviews

When you think of traditional job interview, a one-on-one type interview usually comes to mind. In this scenario you are invited to meet with one person—perhaps a human resources manager, a recruitment consultant or the manager of the position you are applying for—to talk about your qualifications and how you might benefit the company.

The interview may be highly structured, where set questions will be asked, or it could be a more informal situation where the interviewer tries to get to know you and your skills.

Tips for one-on-one interviews

  • In addition to discussing your various skills and qualifications, it’s important to build a good rapport with the interviewer. Remember that you may be working directly with this person if you get the job. Getting along with the interviewer can also show that your personality is compatible with those of other team members.
  • Before the interview ends, reflect briefly on what you haven’t been asked about and actively offer information to make sure you’ve conveyed all key points about what you can bring to the role.
  • Be sure to prepare and ask your own questions about the job, the organisation, and the selection process.

Panel interviews

Panel interviews are very common in larger organisations. You’re likely to experience one if you apply for the Public Service, graduate recruitment programs, and for positions in health, welfare, educational institutions and professional associations. Panels can consist of between three and five people, usually a line manager, a HR representative, a team member, or even a person from another department. Usually each person is assigned certain questions which they ask of all candidates while the others observe and take notes. Employers use panel interviews to help them make the best decision by getting a range of people to assess candidates, rather than relying on a single individual. While it can be daunting to face a number of interviewers, it is an effective technique that can benefit you because personal bias can be countered and different perspectives are brought to bear on the decision about whether you are the right person for the job.

Tips for panel interviews

  • During the interview, make initial eye contact with the person who has asked the question, then include the other panel members in your answer. Scan from one face to the next, pausing briefly on each. Focus on speaking to each individual and then, as you finish your answer, return your focus to the person who asked the interview question.
  • Panel members are likely to take notes during your interview—don’t be intimidated by this. Use it as a reminder that you need to speak clearly and concisely.
  • Prepare and bring along a list of questions to ask the panel at the end of the interview. It’s a good idea to address the questions to different members of the panel based on their organisational role (e.g. human resources, line management and technical). For example, you could address a question about company culture to the human resources officer and a question about the priorities of the position to the line manager.

Questions you might ask at an interview

  • What would a typical day in this role look like?
  • Why has this position become available?
  • How would you describe your organisational culture?
  • What induction and training programmes does the organisation offer?
  • Can you tell me about the reporting structure for this position?
  • How would my performance be measured and by whom?
  • What are the main priorities in this job?
  • Are there any particular qualities and skills you especially value in this team/organisation?
  • How is the company positioned against its competitors?
  • What are the most challenging aspects of this position?
  • What is the next step in the process?
  • What outcomes would I need to achieve in the first three months in this job?

Use the STAR model for success in job applications and interviews

The STAR model provides a framework for presenting information in response to Key Selection Criteria. It is also a useful framework for preparing answers to behavioural questions in an interview. It’s a way of providing clear examples or evidence of your skills, knowledge and approach to work. For each criterion, use the following elements to structure your answers: Continue reading

Tricks of the trade – informational interviews

Informational interviews are an excellent way to find out about specific jobs and career pathways first-hand.  Once you’ve researched career options related to your degree and read occupational information for jobs that you are interested in, this is the next step. It’s about approaching people who work in the occupations you’re interested in, to gain on-the-job perspectives. Continue reading

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