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It is vital that you prepare thoroughly before your face-to-face meeting with a potential employer. You will not have the opportunity to make the right first impression again and a poor performance at first stage interview will cost you the opportunity regardless of how suitable you believe you are.
Prior to any interview Noir recommends that you 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.
The following gives an overview of different interview types and how best to handle them:
HR or non technical management interview
You must know your CV completely and be able to explain each move made during your career and the personal reasons behind the moves. Use this as an opportunity to clearly explain your motivations form moving on and how they match with the position you are interviewing for.
Be prepared for competency questions that require you to demonstrate evidence within your career history that makes you suitable for the role. These questions start with phrases such as ‘Please give an example….’, ‘When did you last….’, Describe a situation where…?. 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.
Your understanding of the job specification and the soft skills required for a role are vital so take the time to review the documentation and where possible discuss with your Recruitment Consultant, requirements for the role that are not documented on the specification.
Noir recommends that you use the STAR method to ensure that the examples used are structured and concise.
STAR = Situation, Task, Action, Result.
You will need to explain the specific situation, the task (what was expected), the action you took and the result. Be prepared for further questions as to whether the end result was what was expected and whether you would change or improve your approach to deliver better results.
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. This will ensure that you have turned a negative question into a positive and have demonstrated a desire to 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 Recruitment Consultant and that the figures presented by him / her represent your expectations.
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 Recruitment Consultant if there will be a technical test as part of the process and for any information on how the test is structured.
The objective here with these types of tests is to assess your overall ‘competence’ in terms of intelligence and also behaviourally. Often these tests are structured as ‘multiple choice’ questions and designed in many cases 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
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 Recruitment 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.
The presentation must not have any spelling mistakes and be grammatically correct.
Ensure that the presentation clearly meets the objective set, remains focused on the subject matter and contains an introduction and summary.
Be prepared for the Q&A session once the presentation has been delivered. Can you verbally justify your findings and theories?
Always practise by delivering the presentation to colleagues /friends / family or your Recruitment Consultant so that you are comfortable and relaxed during the interview.
Other obvious points include:
- Read the job specification, company information, recent press releases, web site, etc.
- Arrive for the interview in plenty of time.
- Dress in smart business attire, unless otherwise informed.
- Use positive body language and communication (smile, eye contact etc).