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Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

In life, preparation is the key to success. No matter if you’re a new graduate looking for your first job or an experienced hire going for your next dream role, the dreaded interview is the key to landing that next career step. Here’s your checklist from Noir Consulting to help you ace any interview that comes your way!

1 Do your homework

Research the company – Make sure you have a strong understanding of the company and the sector/s it works within. Make sure you visit the companies website/social threads to catch up with their latest news and updates. Also, make sure you re-read the job specification.

2 Type of interview

Interviews come in many shapes and formats. There is no point preparing for a technical assessment if this interview focuses on another aspect, such as psychometric testing. Make sure you ask your hiring manager about the interview format. Some examples include:

  • HR or Non-Technical Management Interview
  • Technical Interview
  • Psychometric Testing

Which type of interview?

HR or Non-Technical Management Interview

Know your CV completely and be able to explain each move made during your career and the personal reasons behind the moves.
Clearly explain your motivations for previous moves and this move.

Be prepared for competency questions that require you to demonstrate evidence within your career history that makes you suitable for the role. (i.e.: ‘Please give an example….’, ‘When did you last….’, Describe a situation where…?)
NOTE: The interviewer will typically look for you to demonstrate evidence during the whole span of your career rather than just in your current position so be prepared to discuss a number of different situations.

Understand the job specification – the soft skills required for this role are vital so take the time to review the documentation and discuss the requirement with your consultant.

Use the STAR method to ensure that the examples used are structured and concise.

STAR = Situation, Task, Action, Result.

Other standard HR questions can include:

(Q1) What weaknesses do you think you have?

The question is invariably designed to measure your ability to perform self-analysis so answers such as ‘I am a perfectionist’ or ‘I do not have any’ are inappropriate. To answer this question, think back to a time when you have needed to address a weakness and then demonstrated the steps taken to improve. You’re aiming to show you can turn a negative question into a positive and improve.

(Q2) What basic salary are you looking for?

It is recommended that you do not quote a specific figure, as this will set an expectation in the Interviewer’s mind that is non-negotiable. Better to give a salary range set just above your minimum expectation and then qualify that other things are important to you such as career development, training or benefits.

Alternatively explain that you have discussed this with your Noir Consulting Consultant and that the figures presented by him/her represent your expectations.

Technical Interview

The preparation for this is similar to the HR interview in that you must be able to demonstrate evidence of your technical skills.

Refrain from using terms such as ‘we’ or ‘the team’ and be clear on what your individual technical responsibility is.

Be honest about where you have used the skills on your CV, be it within a commercial environment or through personal study as the Interviewer will pick up on any hesitation in your answers.

At times you will be asked questions on areas that you are inexperienced in. Explain that you are uncertain of the answer but give an educated guess that will help to demonstrate how you approach a technical situation you have not encountered before. It is possible that the Interviewer has asked this question to assess your generic problem-solving skills rather than looking for specific technical knowledge.

Ask your Noir Consulting Consultant if there will be a technical test as part of the process and for any information on how the test is structured.

Psychometric Testing

Designed to test and assess your overall ‘Competence’ in terms of intelligence and also behaviourally.

Often these tests are structured as ‘Multiple Choice’ questions

In many cases, designed for you not to finish so the time factor is important.

The best way to approach these tests is by taking a calm, systematic and methodical approach ensuring that you read all the instructions.

If you come across a difficult question that you are struggling with, then move on and return to it later on.

On the Behavioural side, the key here is to be honest about yourself and answer questions with regards to who you are and not what you ‘Think’ you are.

Broadly speaking there are two types of test:

Competency’ – Verbal / Numerical Reasoning eg: SHL
Behavioural’ – Looking at Attitudes / Perceptions eg: Thomas International

Presentations

It is possible that you may be asked to deliver a presentation as part of the interview process. There are no right and wrong answers when asked to deliver a presentation. They are typically requested by the Interviewer to help assess your ability to form opinions, work under pressure, check your communication skills or understand how you demonstrate your ideas and influence a group.

The topic for a presentation can be given either prior to the interview or during your meeting. When preparing for a presentation in advance it is importance that you bear in mind the following points:

Your understanding of the topic
Do you clearly understand the topic and objective of the presentation? If you are uncertain always speak to your Noir Consulting Consultant who will be able to give clear direction.

Technical Issues
If preparing the presentation in advance always have hard copies to hand should you experience technical difficulties with the presentation equipment.

Quality
The presentation must not have any spelling mistakes and be grammatically correct.

Structure
Ensure that the presentation clearly meets the objective set, remains focused on the subject matter and contain an introduction and summary.

Debate
Be prepared for the Q&A session once the presentation has been delivered. Can you verbally justify your findings and theories?

Preparation
Always practise by delivering the presentation to colleagues/friends/family or your Noir Consulting Consultant so that you are comfortable and relaxed during the interview.

3 Assess your strengths and weaknesses

‘SWOT’ Analysis
Prior to any interview perform a ‘SWOT’ analysis (Strengths / Weaknesses / Opportunities / Threats) on your application for the position. By analysing your application for the position, you are more likely to deliver relevant and specific answers to the interviewer.

4 Dress is smart business attire, unless otherwise informed by your consultant.

5 Make sure you leave home with plenty of time to share. Arriving late leads to a 95% failure rate.

6 Use of positive body language and communication (smile, eye contact etc)

7 Have some questions in mind – this is your opportunity to find out all the information you need to make a fully informed decision. Asking questions will also show your interest in the company and the role.

8 Prepare for success!

 
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