Interview Tips

October 2, 2020
  • Preparation is essential and greatly enhances your chances of performing well at any interview.

Here are some tips on interview preparation:

  • Ensure your consultant has provided you with a detailed understanding of the position description, the team environment and the organisation.
  • Conduct additional research regarding the organisation through reading annual reports and researching on the internet. Understand its products/services, size, locations, financial situation and growth potential.
  • Make sure you know exactly where you are going and always be on time.
  • Dress conservatively and pay attention to all facets of your dress and grooming.
  • Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer’s full name and the correct pronunciation and his/her title.
  • Spend 30 minutes reviewing your resume/experience and its relevance to the position description. Identify the specific examples in your background that are directly relevant to the position description and that demonstrate your ability to do the job. Refresh your memory regarding details of present and past employers and your work history in their companies. You will be expected to know a lot about a company for which you have previously worked. Pay particular attention to how you will describe your most important achievements.
  • Be prepared to convey to the interviewer: why this role appeals to you, why they should consider you for this role and what makes you a bit different from other candidates.
  • Prepare the questions YOU will ask during the interview. Remember that an interview is a two-way street. The employer will try to determine through questioning if you have the qualifications necessary to do the job. You must determine through questioning whether the company will give you the opportunity for the growth and development you seek.

Here are examples of probing questions you might ask:

  1. What would a normal day in this role look like?
  2. Why is the position available?
  3. How would you describe your organisational culture?
  4. What induction and training programmes does the organisation offer?
  5. What sort of people have done well in this team/organisation?
  6. How is the company positioned against its competitors?
  7. What is your vision for the future? What are the plans, if any, for growth or expansion?
  8. What are the three things that would make someone an outstanding success in this role?
  9. How well do you think I match the requirements of the role?
  10. What is the next step in the process?

Preparing for the structure and style of the interview

Competency Based Interviews Competency based interviews are the most prevalent style of interviewing. Also known as behavioural interviewing, competency based interviewing requires you to draw on past experience and describe specific examples of incidents that demonstrate your competence in a particular area. The most effective way of answering these questions is to use the “STAR” technique:

S I T U A T I O N – briefly describe the background to the situation

T A S K – specifically describe your responsibility 

A C T I O N – describe what you did 

R E S U L T – describe the outcome of your actions. Here is an excellent answer to a competency-based question that is testing teamwork as a competence: 

Q U E S T I O N : “Team work is very important in our organisation. What evidence do you have to prove that you are a good team player?”

ANSWER: “I have a number of examples I could share with you. In one instance, when I was working as a financial analyst at ABC Company, the sales team was putting together a bid for a large piece of work and the analyst that normally helps them was on leave. I offered to help them and worked late every night for two weeks to ensure they had all the information they needed. They took on my suggestions regarding pricing and also some creative ideas I had on formatting the proposal. As it turned out we won the bid and I was promoted as a result”. 
You may be required to provide between one and three real-life examples to validate one particular competence.Be prepared with answers and supporting examples to standard HR questions such as:

  1. What are your career aspirations?
  2. Why do you want to work for our company?
  3. What interests you about our product/service?
  4. Of your previous jobs, which did you enjoy most and why?
  5. How have you managed conflict in the past?
  6. Describe what you have done in your career that shows your initiative.
  7. What are your weaknesses? Your strengths?
  8. What does teamwork mean to you?
  9. What style of management gets the best from you?
  10. What have been your major achievements to date?

Remember that you are being interviewed because the interviewer wants to hire somebody — not because he/she wants to trip you up or embarrass you. Through the interaction that takes place during the interview, he/she will be searching out your strong and weak points, evaluating you on your qualifications, skills and intel- lectual qualities and he/she will probably probe deeply to determine your attitudes, aptitudes, stability, motivation and maturity. 

Your Style and Behaviour

During your interview, the employer will be evaluating your total performance, not just your answers. Listed below are some factors and mannerisms that will usually produce a positive reaction from a prospective employer. 

  1. Maintenance of eye contact
  2. Firm handshake
  3. Preparation and knowledge of the company/industry • Interested balanced approach
  4. Ability to express thoughts clearly
  5. Career planning and objectives
  6. Confidence
  7. Informative replies
  8. Tact, maturity, courtesy
  9. Intelligent questions about the job
  10. Enthusiasm for the role and the organisation
  11. Positive, “can-do” attitude

General tips and closing the interview

  • Plan to arrive on time or a few minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable.
  • Greet the interviewer by his/her first name.
  • Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair. Look alert and interested at all times. Be a good listener as well as a good talker. Smile.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Follow the interviewer’s leads but try to get the interviewer to describe the position and the duties to you early in the interview so that you can relate your background and skills to the position.
  • Make sure that your good points get across to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner. Keep in mind that you alone can sell yourself to an interviewer. Make him/her realise the need for you in his/her organisation. Smile.
  • Always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. Never close the door on an opportunity. It is better to be in the position where you can choose from a number of jobs rather than only one.
  • If you are interested in the position, make sure you tell the interviewer this.
  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time and consideration of you. You have done all you can if you have answered the two questions uppermost in his/her mind:
    • 1. Why are you interested in the job and the company?
    • 2. What can you offer and can you do the job? Lastly, smile.
  • Answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no”. Explain whenever possible. Tell those things about yourself which relate to the position.• Lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and as much to the point as possible.
  • Ever make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers or companies.
  • “Over-answer” questions. The interviewer may steer the conversation into politics or economics. Since this can be controversial, it is best to answer the questions honestly, trying not to say more than is necessary.
  • Let your discouragement show. If you get the impression that the interview is not going well and that you have already been rejected, do not show discouragement or alarm. Once in a while an interviewer who is genuinely interested in your possibilities may seem to discourage you in order to test your reaction.
  • Enquire about salary, bonuses or holidays at the first interview unless you are positive the employer is interested in hiring you and raises the issue first. However, you should know your market value and be prepared to specify your required salary or range.

After the Interview

Last but not least, call the consultant at Ascent Global Partners who referred you to the position immediately after the interview and describe how the interview went. He/she will want to talk with you before the interviewer calls and will appreciate the courtesy of your feedback. If you are interested in progressing further it will assist if your feelings towards the position are known, together with your perception of what the client’s reaction is likely to be.



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