Interview Tips

We know many people struggle with interviews though they are the most experienced and best qualified for the job.

Tips for the telephone interview.

You might think that the best thing about a telephone interview is that, You dont have to worry about how you look, Even if you dont have to go to their offices. You need to be as prepared and well presented as you would be for a face to face interview.

Initial interviews by telephone are more common than they used to be. Its an inexpensive way to screen candidates in the initial stages of a recruitment campaign. The recruiter may just be looking for a confident manner and intelligent responses to some set questions. But dont take anything for granted. You may find you are on the phone for an hour and a half and are expected to answer detailed questions about previous roles and achievements.

Dont allow yourself to be caught on the hop. If youre not able to make some quiet time when they call then set a time for the interview to take place. You have to be a bit more organised about the telephone interview because its on your home turf. Make sure you wont be interrupted and be sure to charge your phone in advance. Keep a copy of your CV by the phone and all the other relevant information you might need. Prepare and compose yourself in advance. If you sound confused and disorganised you might not get a second chance.

You should have some information from the prospective employer about the role and company. Think about answers you might give to their questions, particularly with regard to competency based questions. Do your research and prepare some questions to ask them exactly as you would for a regular interview. Smile when you talk on the telephone. Youll be more relaxed, youll sound more confident and assertive. Seriously think about using a headset for telephone interviews. Apart from the fact that it will make it much easier to take notes youll be able to concentrate on the conversation rather than on balancing the phone between shoulder and ear while you search for a pen. In all other respects treat the interview as you would a one to one but remember that time tends to be limited for a phone interview. Its a good idea to ask at the start, if not before the interview, about the structure or sequence of the interview process so you know what to expect. If part of the process is going to be that you are offered a choice of topics to brainstorm you dont want to be taken by surprise. A phone interview is likely to feel less spontaneous and flexible than a one to one. The interviewer may well have a set script of questions and while you may feel rushed, at some points, if the interviewer thinks they have the information they need they will want to move on. This is the tricky thing about the telephone interview - you cant judge reactions in the same way as when you are face to face with an interviewer. Its a little harder to engage the interviewer in a two-way conversation if she has a schedule of questions and a row of tick boxes. As you dont get the feedback or body language information that help in the face to face situation, it might be useful to ask questions such as "is that what you needed to know?" or "do you want me to go into more detail?" Other things to bear in mind? Make sure you sound enthusiastic, the sort of person they want on the team. Pace yourself, a good interviewer knows you may need a little time to compose a good response, so do take time to think about answers. Be aware that they may be pushing you to answer as part of their interview technique. Listen carefully and if you dont fully understand the question, ask for clarification. Dont allow yourself to become flustered, especially if some of the questions seem either irrelevant or overly-specific. And remember the interviewer may need some time to make notes between questions so dont worry unduly about short silences, be patient.

Where do you start when researching for an interview?

Getting an interview is tough in today’s competitive job market. With more people applying for each job than ever before, it’s vital that you stand out from the crowd. Doing extensive research on the company you have been offered an interview for is essential to help make you the top candidate.

Researching the company before you go for the interview will help you:

  • Talk more knowledgably about why you think you are a good fit for the company
  • Demonstrate your keen interest and enthusiasm for the job
  • Show professionalism and diligence

There is a wealth of information you can access about a company prior to an interview and using this information can help you highlight your suitability for the role and the organisation.

Below are our few tips to go when researching for an interview.

  • Company’s Website: Always start your research by looking directly at the company’s website. This will give you a good understanding of what the company does, what industry they sit in, their core values and an idea of who the key players are in their current team. Make sure you are familiar with the products/services they are involved in. If they have a “careers” section on their website, this is written specifically by the company so it will give you a firm understanding of exactly what they expect from their staff.
  • Google : The next step is to do a Google search of the organisation. This will show the company website as well as other key information, such as news articles and recent changes within the company, which will be important to read through before the interview. You can also search on Google to find out more about the products and services the company offers. There may be reviews or articles written which you want to be clued up on before you get asked questions about it, or which you can discuss to highlight the extent of your research.
  • Social media : Following the company on social media, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ will help you appreciate a company’s culture, what they are interested in and gain a further understanding of their core values. Some company’s may also have videos and case studies from their employees and clients which will help give you a good idea if it is the right company for you and a better understanding of the workings inside the company.
  • LinkedIn : It is always worth looking up the interviewers on LinkedIn to see if you share any common interests or mutual acquaintances. This will help ensure the interview runs smoothly as there may be some common ground to discuss and will help you feel more comfortable. If you don’t know who will be interviewing you, call the organisation and ask. You can also use LinkedIn to see current employees of the organisation. If you know of someone in the company you could use this opportunity to speak to them in more depth about the ins and outs of the company and, if they do a similar role or know of someone you could speak to, you could get a better insight of what the role would entail and be able to talk in greater detail in the interview.
  • Job Description and Person Specification : Finally, make sure you have fully read and understood the job description and person specification for the role before the interview. The interviewer wants to hire someone who can fulfil all requirements of the role and who will fit in as one of the team. It’s also important to print it out and bring it with you to the interview, along with two copies of your CV and your research. Using the above tips will also give an insight into the core values of a company, outlining whether the company is right for you and will be useful in reflecting their values in your interview. Doing this research will help make sure you are fully prepared for your job interview and are prepared for any questions about the company that may arise. If you want to stand ahead of the competition, make sure you have fully researched the organisation and are confident in discussing their services and background.
  • Competitors : Showing you have a good understanding of a company’s main competitors and their services demonstrates you have done extensive research and are very interested in the company and how it fairs in the market. If you mention products that their competitors offer, make sure you show how the company you are applying for compares.
  • Industry Information : As well as looking at competitors, look up the industry as a whole so you’ve got a strong understanding of how the industry is performing. This also shows you’ve read more widely and shows your enthusiasm for the role.

How to tell about your career.

Stories can transform the dry facts of your career into vivid accounts of your challenges and triumphs. Use them in your CV and at interview to make a strong, emotional connection.

Your story is your career to date : Present your career history as a chain of successes, skills and experiences to establish the value you bring. To do this, pull together elements from your background that define your brand – whether this is cost-saver, profit-maker, or market-builder, for example. Then each milestone, promotion and accomplishment you highlight should reinforce your brand message.

Use mini-stories to add the details : how you made a difference in your previous roles, and crucially, what youll be able to do in this role. Terms like "problem-solver" or "team-player" dont tell a convincing story, either, Instead, prove your strengths with success stories. For each company or role, briefly detail your remit or scope. For example: "Hired to turn around an underperforming product range where sales lagged 10% against the company average," sets the scene for detailed examples Then, in concise paragraphs (ideally, two to three lines) highlight your achievements, quantifying where possible. Context is important. How did your achievement buck a particular trend for example? Frame your stories in a challenge-action-result format. For example: "Reversed a sales decline of 10% by reducing product delivery times and upselling related products."

Involve your interviewer: Ask questions, such as "Youre facing these sorts of problems, right?" and be aware of your interviewers reactions; speeding up, slowing down, or answering questions as necessary.

Be interesting: A good presenter will modify voice and gestures, or use pauses for dramatic effect. Do the same with your stories. Practise them so you feel confident, but be careful to avoid sounding over-rehearsed or static.

Vary the introduction: Use cues from your interviewer to launch into a story, such as "Actually, that happened to me once", or "I faced exactly the same dilemma in my last job." Maintain interest by including the real-life complexity of twists and turns.

Be honest: Give credit to others (if its due) to enhance your own credibility and likeability.

What not to do in an interview: Lessons from The Apprentice

"The smallest hole in your CV and they put a stick of dynamite in it and blow it up." This was would-be apprentice Jamie Lesters appraisal, as he struggled to deal with the challenges in last nights The Apprentice. The show has finally come around to the interview and CV stage – and once again we were all witness to some jaw-dropping mistakes, exaggerations and downright lies.