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The Interview


This is the ‘make or break’ stage. Its also the most demanding and potentially the most difficult.

There are three stages – Preparation, Performance and Follow up.

 

Guidelines


You must research the organization, the job and if possible the person who will interview you.

You should also research the industry/sector in which then organization operates.

You should practice before the interview.

Tips for an interview

  • Do your research on the organization as you did when you were considering where to apply - but do much more and do some of it again – things will have changed. Update you file/dossier.
  • Get both objective and subjective information.
  • Get up-to-date information – eg from the press. Read the main sources of info right up to the time you have the interview ( up to date ‘snippets’ will impress at the interview).
  • Get a friend to simulate the interview with you before you go – ie to ask you some questions ( see below).
  • Set yourself some goals for the interview – eg some key points you want to get across.
  • Re read your Covering letter and Resume before, and take them with you.

Some questions to be prepared for:

  • What are you reading at present?
    (Say you have read XX books on your Program. Say what papers/journals you read regularly. Say that for leisure – when you have time – you read ‘whatever’). Where do you want to be in X years? (Be ambitious but realistic. Refer to continual development. Don’t give the impressions that you will be difficult to satisfy/handle/manage).
  • What are your strengths? (Don’t be vague. Link your strengths to your achievements. If necessary refer to generic things such as energy, commitment, ambition, resilience, determination, adaptability – but don’t produce a long list).
  • What are your weaknesses? (Have some minor ones to refer to – but do not bare your soul. Don’t go into detail unless you a have to. Don’t elaborate. Make sure the weaknesses will not be seen as disadvantages in the job. Be prepared for the questions - how important are they and what are you going to do about them? Say its important that people recognise their weaknesses – then they can do something about them. Say you will expect to continue to develop and learn from your experiences. Don’t give the impression that you will want to go on lots of courses).
  • Why do you want this job? (Refer to what you think you can achieve - and what it can do for you).
  • Why should we hire you? (Say that the only reason you want them to hire you is that they believe you are the best person for the job).
  • Give me three recent major achievements (Have this answer ready – but give the impression of having to think back – then give the examples. Be specific – say what you achieved and in what circumstances and with what obstacles. Say why you were pleased with what you did).
  • What is your management style? (It probably does not matter what your style is – providing you have one. The question is probably to see what you know about yourself. Don’t use jargon. Don’t quote text books. If you feel that the organization has a particular style/culture – describe yourself in a way that will fit. Use general terms - eg your openness, energy etc. Avoid phrases like ‘lead from the front’. Don’t describe yourself in an inappropriate way. For example if you are in for a middle management job – don’t refer to your strategic thinking.).
  • What do you know about this organization? (Tell them you have done your research – point to your file/dossier).
  • What do you look for when you hire people? (If you have experience of this refer to specific situations . Make the point that different types of people do well in different types of role. Don’t give the impression that you only value people like yourself. Refer to generic things – ambition, energy, commitment, flexibility ).
  • How would someone you know describe you? (Again mention some of the characteristics you have used to describe yourself before but add two or three personal things – eg – sense of humour, supportiveness etc).
  • How do you spend your spare time? (If you are currently doing a Bachelor – say you have no spare time. If you would normally do any of the following- mention them – sport or other things to keep you fit, Culture, community work ).
  • What makes a job enjoyable for you? (Refer to evident achievement, personal development, the people you work/interact with and being associated with a respected an successful organiszation).
  • Why are you doing/did you do a Bachelor? (Speak briefly about the need for challenge, the benefits of working with different people, the importance of a rigorous approach, personal development etc. Don’t give the impression that the Bachelor gives you answers – but rather that it develops your confidence etc).

 

Guidelines

You should be yourself in the interview – don’t pretend, don’t try to be someone different.

You should try to be relaxed – but not casual.

Tips

  • Dress smart and formal.
  • Be spontaneous – don’t try to have scripted answers.
  • Try not to appear nervous or shy – remember – if you have got this far the organization is interested in you.
  • Be the first to say ‘hello’ when you go in.
  • Take you file/dossier – don’t spread it out on the desk but let it be seen.
  • Don’t be presumptious – Don’t refer to ‘we’ as if you were a part of the organization already.
  • If given the opportunity to ask questions – ask one at most. Make it simple and have it ready. Don’t pull out a long list.
  • Watch for non verbal cues, make eye contact, lean forward, look interested, be enthusiastic.
  • Ask for clarification of any question you do not understand.
  • Don’t be critical of a previous employer or person.

Salary Questions

Don’t get into a lengthy discussion about money. Attempt to postpone a discussion on salary till a later stage – ‘when you would have a better understanding of the requirements of the job’ etc. If necessary -ask what the normal/expected salary range is for the job.

However – be clear about your previous salary and have a salary range in mind for this job – eg ‘ I believe that the normal salary range for the type of job I understand to be available would be -----‘

Always follow up the interview irrespective of how it ended. Write to/Email the person who interviewed you within 24 hours (letter) or 48 hours (E mail). Try to choose the method of communication to suit the company- (use E mail if they have E mailed you or if they have given you an E mail address). Be sure to have the right name and job title.

Tips

  • Be brief and polite.
  • Don’t appear ‘pushy’ or impatient.
  • Thank them for the interview.
  • Don’t send multiple , identical notes – if you were interviewed by more than one person – send one to the person who was in charge.
  • If you were not rejected on the day – say that you will be happy to provide any further information that might be required.
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