How to prepare effectively for Interviews (MS PowerPoint , 3616kb)

Preparing for
Janice Simpson
Senior Careers Adviser
Learning Outcomes
By the end of this session you should be able to:
 Appreciate why employers use interviews
 Identify the types of interviews used by employers
 Understand what selectors are looking for and
how interview performance is assessed
 Know how to prepare for interviews
 Handle the interview situation effectively
Why use interviews ?
A two-way process
A conversation with a purpose
The Interviewer’s Agenda
Can you do the job ?
 Qualifications, experience, skills, aptitudes
Will you fit in ?
 Personality, manner, flexibility
Do you show motivation for the job ?
 Attitude, approach, knowledge, general
 Do you live up to your application form/CV ?
Your Agenda
To demonstrate that you are capable of doing the job
 Qualifications, experience, confidence
To work out whether you will enjoy working for the
organisation ?
 Future colleagues/managers, environment, equipment
To find out whether you will enjoy the work
 What will you actually be doing ?
Interview formats
Assessment centre
Phone/ Skype
Telephone/Skype Interviews
• Can have notes/prompts
and copy of application in
front of you
• Can’t see the interviewer
– no cues
• Own environment
• Don’t need to worry about
getting there etc.
• Skype: can use body
• They can’t see you – can’t
rely on body language
and facial expressions
• Your voice is your only
means of expression
• Skype: need to consider
background and clothes
Types of Interviews
• Competency based
• CV/application form
• Case study
• Technical/subject
• Strength based
• Pressure
Competency based interviews
Competency = what the company believes to be
important and useful in order to be successful in
the role
• Need to demonstrate you have the competencies
the employer is looking for
• Use situational examples and highlight
transferable skills
Common competencies
• Positive attitude
• Organisational
• Communication
• Analytical
• Flexibility
• Numeracy
• Creativity
• IT
• Enterprising/
• Commercial
• Problem solving
• Motivation
• Team work
• Committed to selfdevelopment
• Influencing
Examples of
Competency Based Questions
 Tell us about a time when you have demonstrated
leadership skills while working as part of a team.
How did you identify the needs of your group ? How
did you address these needs to achieve success ?
Problem solving
 Give an example of a situation where you have
come up with a creative and practical solution to a
complex problem
Tackling questions –think CAR
Situation and tasks, what/where/when/with whom?
what did you do?
What happened? what outcome?
Also: STAR (situation/task/action/result)
Technical Interviews
 Typically used for scientific, IT or other technical
 Questions relate to the technical knowledge/skills
required to do the job/project
 Could also include practical or written tasks
relating to technical knowledge
Case Study Interview
 Common in some sectors, e.g. management consultancy,
finance, law…
 Typically involves analysis of a business problem
– To see if you would be suited to and enjoy the work
Evaluated on:
Your analytical and problem solving skills
Your identification of key issues
How you develop your thinking
How you respond and stand up to questioning
Strength based interviews
 Strength = Something you are good at and enjoy doing
 Format aims to get the best out of candidates and avoid
formulaic responses
 Seeking genuine energy, enthusiasm and passion;
Body language and verbal expression are important
 Lots of questions, fast-paced, need to be able to think
on your feet
– How does it feel when you are out of your comfort zone ?
– What’s the best thing that’s happened to you in the last 2
weeks ?
Preparation is key!
What steps would you take to
prepare for an interview ?
Work with a partner to prioritise
3 actions from those suggested
(feel free to add your own)
Preparation - know yourself
 Why this career/type of job?
 Re-read your application and be prepared to discuss it
 Ensure you can give examples for each skill and
attribute that the employer is seeking
 Know your strengths and weaknesses, achievements
and disappointments
 Be prepared to talk about these in a positive manner
 Disclosure?
Preparation – company knowledge
Research the organisation/sector
What do they do/make ?
How is their business doing ?
What political or market issues face them ?
Where do they sit within the general sector ?
Who are their main competitors ?
What is the organisational culture ?
Information Resources
- for industry information
 Company literature/website
 Sector journals and publications, broad sheet
Professional bodies’ websites
Personal contacts / Graduate Profiles
Google, LinkedIn, Twitter
Online directories
Finance related:
Interview Preparation
Expect the obvious ! Many interview questions
are predictable ….
 Warm-up questions – about why you have applied
and your knowledge of the
 Academic background – skills, knowledge
 About you – your strengths, skills, personal qualities,
areas for development, interests
 Competency based
 Challenges – weaknesses, ‘awkward questions’
 Scenario questions
Answering Questions - Strategies
 Clarify questions if unsure
 Ask for a repeat of question or moment to think
if needed
 Stay focused - take care with length of answer
 Be positive !
 Give specific examples
 Avoid yes/no responses
 Let them see the ‘real you’
First impressions count
 Think about dress and appearance
 Follow the interviewer’s guidance (eg handshake, taking
a seat…)
 Be polite, friendly and enthusiastic
 Moderate tone of voice
 Body language
Firm handshake (if offered)
Make eye contact
Smile !
Active listening
Eliminate irritating habits…
Asking Questions
 Make sure the answers haven’t been provided in the
job description or during the interview
 Suggestions:
– Clarification of aspects of role (typical projects, variety of
work, responsibilities)
– Career development opportunities
– Training
– Performance assessment
– Future developments
– Ask your interviewer about their experiences of the
organisation – work culture, what they enjoy etc
Be on time
Use slang or acronyms
Do your research
Jump to the answer without setting
the scene
Be clear on your motivation
Use the same example for every
Practice your examples and give
them structure- CAR!
LISTEN to the question carefully
Criticize past employers
Answer the question!
Be arrogant
Use it as an opportunity to decide if
the employer is for you
Forget that you are always being
Other assessment
Assessment Centres
 Group activities
– Discussion
– Exercises (role play, case study)
– Problem solving tasks
 Presentations
 In-tray/e-tray exercises
 Psychometric tests
 Written exercises (eg evaluation and recommendation,
analysis of data, summarising technical information)
 Work simulation tasks
Your personalised
Careers account
Access the Interactive Careers Service to:
 Search hundreds of graduate vacancies
 Receive alerts for sectors that interest you
 Keep updated on part-time, internship and volunteering
 Get involved with enterprise activities
 Access a wide range of careers events
 Book appointments
Help available from Careers
 Careers Advice appointments to discuss
preparation for interview
 CV/application form appointments
 Information appointments
 Practice interviews subject to availability
Any Questions?
Tell us what you want…
If you have feedback on this session, any of
our services, or ideas for future activities,
please email: [email protected]

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