Career Advice and Resources
Interviewing – Preparation and Tips
There is absolutely no doubt that interviewing can be a daunting and stressful time for jobseekers, especially when you are chasing the job you have always dreamed of.
Along with the right attitude, and appropriate interview attire, the key to interview success is actually a lot simpler than you think — your preparation.
The right level of preparation, prior to an interview, allows you to walk into it with confidence and enthusiasm — a bit like a driving test. The more you study and practice, the higher your chance of getting a 100% pass!
A high-level of preparation should not under any circumstances be overlooked. Turning up to any interview (whether its an informal meeting or a panel interview) unprepared can send out the wrong signals to interviewers, such as a lack of interest in the position, or an over-confident persona, which of course you do not want.
To assist in your preparation, make sure you have covered the bases with your Talent Manager — find out the format for the interview (will it be a panel or one-on-one, formal or informal, behavioural, or technical), along with the names (check the correct pronunciations) and position titles of those you will be meeting with. Do not be afraid to use your investigation skills to find out more about the interviewers either — LinkedIn is a great tool for this!
The starting point in your interview preparation should be research. You want to have a good knowledge base of the organisation, which generally you can find by searching their website — for example, core service offerings, vision, company structure, and significant media releases. Make sure you also have a thorough understanding of the requirements and competencies of the position, as this will help you to formulate your behavioural interview answers and your end of interview questions.
Behavioural or competency interviewing is the most common form of interview these days. This form of interviewing involves asking specific questions about your past behaviour or experiences, and allows you to clearly demonstrate your competence in a specific area. When answering behavioural questions always make sure your answers cover off all four below dimensions (STAR technique):
Situation — briefly outline the situation or problem you were faced with
Task — describe your specific responsibility
Action — describe the action you took (this is the most important!)
Result — briefly describe the outcome of your actions
To answer behavioural questions successfully, take the time (before the interview) to come up with a list of strong and positive examples and specific situations you have been in that show some of the standard competencies, such as decision making, communication, leadership, time management, teamwork, initiative, flexibility, and relationship management.
You will also need to think about the specific competencies required for the role you are applying for (refer to the job description) and examples of you putting them into practice in your prior experience.
Non-behavioural interviews follow more of a basic structure, which in addition to specific questions based around your CV, are based around finding out why you are interested in the opportunity, your suitability to the role, the additional skills or experience you can bring to the organisation and the value you can add, your personality, and your work style — do you fit with the culture of the organisation? what is your x-factor? what sets you apart from the competition?
- Make sure you are suited and booted for your interview, and dont forget the small things – polished shoes, a freshly ironed shirt, clean shaven, a fresh coat of nail polish. A professional presentation and well-groomed appearance is important!
- Arrive to your interview a few minutes early, but not too early! 3-5 minutes is perfect. Make sure you know exactly where to go for your interview, how long it will take to get there, and who to ask for on arrival.
- Maintain good eye contact and smile throughout the interview, and remember to open and close with a good firm handshake, this demonstrates confidence.
- Body language is important – sit up straight and keep an interested expression. Dont lean back on your chair, raise your hands above your head, or tap your fingers/feet – these are a big NO NO!
- Stay focused – dont allow your answers or conversation to go off on a tangent.
- Be honest with your answers, and be careful not to be too negative about your current or previous employers.
Throughout or at the end of the interview, you will have the opportunity to ask the interviewers any questions you may have. Again, think ahead — include this in you preparation, and seize the opportunity to ask some well thought-out and relevant open questions, which demonstrate your knowledge and preparation. Be careful not to ask basic questions that you should know the answer too, or questions that have been answered in the course of your interview.
Some good examples are:
- How would you describe the company culture?
- What would a normal day in this role look like?
- What is the organisations vision or plans for the future?
- What training and development programs does the organisation offer?
At the end of the interview, make sure you thank the interviewer/s for their time and consideration, and remember to shake hands. With the level of preparation you would have done, you will be able to leave the interview with confidence and your head held high.
And now… you can relax!
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