How to succeed in an interview
December 3, 2017
Interview questions and styles may change from business to business however there are questions that are commonly asked at interview.
The interviewers try to ascertain a few things:
See if you have the skills and experience to conduct the job on offer
Check your enthusiasm, motivation and interest for the job
See whether you will blend in with the working environment, style and teams
We are providing some common questions asked in interviews to help you prepare for your next interview:
1. Tell me about yourself?
Ans. Deliver a confident answer to this, usually the first question asked in most of the interviews which lets the interviewer know a little bit about you. It is advised that you rehearse before the interview.
It is important that you identify areas that relate to the job you are being interviewed for, and show your enthusiasm. This can show the interviewer how you are well suited to the job. Also try and include some of the achievements you feel are important and relevant to the job.
2. What are your key strengths/skills?
Ans. It is important that you respond with relevant skills and strengths that make you suited to the job while answering this question.
Doing research beforehand can help prepare an answer to this question. By studying the job advert and person specification, it can help you think about the requirements that make you relevant and appropriate for the job role.
3. What are your weaknesses?
Ans. Try not to be too critical when answering this question. Instead pick one of your weaknesses and try to turn it into a positive.
For example, you could be a perfectionist, which means that you sometimes take longer on tasks but you make sure that they are completed to a high quality. It is important to make a negative into a positive as it doesn’t make you appear overly critical and shows you can reflect on your own performance.
4. Why do you want this job?
Ans. Answer this question with a response that highlights why you would be a good candidate for the job and how enthusiastic you are about it.
Ensure that you show an interest in the job sector, understand the company and their ethos and show how your skills match their requirements.
5. Give me an example of a difficult situation/task at work and how you dealt with it.
Ans. This is often asked so that you can express situations in which you used problem-solving and communication skills to help resolve the situation. It is suggested that you identify a situation that you assisted in settling through showing emotional intelligence.
6. Tell me about an achievement you are proud of.
Ans. This question gives you the opportunity to show how past achievements will benefit the business. It is suggested that you only include personal achievements if they are highly impressive or prestigious. Otherwise try and identify a time where you achieved something relevant to the job you are opting for.
7. What are your career goals?
Ans. The reason for this question being asked is because the employer wants to understand how long you intend to stay with the organisation. Reassure them by explaining how the job role fits your career plan, as this will display your long-term commitment to the organisation.
8. What do you know about the organisation?
Ans. It is very important that you show you have done some prior research of the organisation before the interview. Looking into areas such as the company structure, office bearers, finances, customers, products and services, competitors and market trends as these are the key areas.
How to succeed at interview
You need to show you have a thorough understanding of what the organisation is about and how it works. If not, it will look like you have no interest in working for the company.
The key to a successful interview is preparation. Almost without exception, the candidate who has done the most preparation will be the person who gets the job.
Prepare your answers: You can never know exactly what you will be asked, but there are numerous questions which consistently come up at interview and by using the internet and doing your research you can have a bank of answers ready for most questions. There will always be questions that surprise you, but if you’ve thought through your work history, prepared examples and know your CV inside out, then you should be able to answer everything competently.
Research the organisation: In almost every interview situation, you will be asked, at some stage, to confirm what you know about the organisation to which you are applying. You should demonstrate that you have done your homework and understand the organisation. Their website is always a good research tool and if you have time, call the company and ask them to send you any relevant corporate communications.
Plan your journey: Know the address, print out a map and if possible do a trial run so you know exactly how long it will take to get there. Many people turn up late for an interview, because they got lost. Give yourself plenty of time.
Finally, an interview is as much about first impressions as it is about your skills and experiences. Be enthusiastic, positive and professional, give a firm handshake, look the interviewer in the eye and smile!
Top Interview Skills
With some careful planning and thought you can ensure that you present yourself confidently and professionally in the interview.
Here are some important things to consider before and during the interview:
Do your research
Find out as much as you can about the organisation prior to the interview. You can check out the organisation website get a feel for the organisation and its vision. Also look at any relevant articles/publications to see what has recently been written about your potential employer and their industry.
Prepare your questions
To avoid your mind going blank during the interview, prepare beforehand by brainstorming all the possible questions you may get asked. Here are a few common questions that you could get asked:
Tell me about yourself
What are the main strengths you’d bring to this job?
Show me how you would use your communication skills in the job on offer?
Why do you want this job?
Practice your responses
To prepare structure clear and succinct responses to each question, write down your ideal response to each question you have listed. Then practise each response out aloud. By speaking your response out aloud rather than just in your head you will remember the key words and phrases to use in the actual interview and this will help you to come across more confidently even if you are feeling nervous.
Allow enough time
Arrive at the venue well before the scheduled time, at least thirty minutes before the interview. Check the time, date and location of the interview the day before and spend time working out the best way to get there. Keep sufficient time in your hand, anticipating any possible delays. There’s nothing worse than arriving in a panic if you think you are going to be late.
Control your nerves
It is usually seen that aspirants get a bit nervous just before the interview. So, you need to be able to know how to control your nerves so that they don’t take over when you start. To help do this you can use a simple breathing technique – focus on breathing out for as long as possible to help release any tension in the body. You will find that your in-breath is deeper and more controlled and this will help to feel calmer before you start. You can do this sitting or standing or even walking around.
Take care not to race ahead when you first start to speak in the interview. This can happen when you are keen to get your ideas across too quickly. But if you speak too fast you will find it harder to stay focused and may start to ramble or lose track of your key points. Also your interviewers will find it harder to follow. So, focus on slowing down when you first start to speak – especially your first few words. Make sure that you pronounce each word carefully and then pause after your first sentence for a few seconds – it may feel like an eternity but your listeners need time to take in what you are saying.
Make eye contact
Don’t forget to look at your interviewers when speaking to them so that you really feel that you are having a conversation with them. A key time to look at your interviewer (s) is at the end of a sentence as this will help you to appear more convincing in your response. If you look down at this point your words will lose conviction.
Understand the question
Always listen carefully to the interviewer’s question first and don’t try to formulate a response in your head before you have fully heard it and understood it. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you need to. This will also buy you time to think about your response.
Even if everything hasn’t quite gone to plan it’s important that you finish confidently thanking the interviewer(s) for their time. This will demonstrate that you have good communication skills and help to leave your interviewers with a strong impression.
How to dress for an interview?
What you actually say during your interview is of course key to demonstrating your suitability for the job, but don’t underestimate the impact of the first and potentially lasting impression made by what you have chosen to wear.
In that first moment when you meet the interviewers, they take an instant snapshot of you and see if they can place you within their team and organisation. What they see in terms of clothing, hair, shoes etc. suggest that you will fit in and appropriately reflect their business and brand.
What to wear at an Interview?
Whether you like it or not, your personal appearance will be judged as an expression of who you are and your approach to your work. This does not mean that interviews are a beauty parade, they’re not. However, your clothes, hair, shoes etc will be viewed as indicators of your status, self-confidence, self-care and self-worth.
Interestingly enough, if you get the image right, it is likely to be noticed but not necessarily remarked upon. The recruiter will just feel that you “look right”. However, if you get it wrong, then it can be difficult or even impossible to overcome the employer’s negative preconceptions about you.
Your interview outfits should be clean, free of dog hairs, deodorant marks, fraying hems or straining zips and buttons. The interviewer is going to be sitting staring at you for an hour and they will notice every sartorial flaw
Accessories are equally important. File case and handbags should be smart and the contents well-organised. Pens should be decent quality.
Make-up and jewellery for women should be subtle and unfussy. Heels are fine but should be comfortable for walking.
We suggest wearing a formal dress which you are comfortable with and the colour of the dress is sober.
At the end, how you dress is unlikely to secure you the role but will strongly influence the interviewer’s perceptions of your approach to work, your self-care and how well you will fit into their organisation.
If you look great chances are you will feel good and will make a confident assured entrance.
Get your interview outfit in order well before the scheduled date
Look like someone who already works there
Pay great attention to grooming – hair etc
Ensure file case/handbags are smart
Get objective feedback from others
Getting the balance right in your CV
Some job seekers treat their CV very much like a savings account, adding to it over time and trying not to take anything out. Whilst this may be a noble approach to financial planning it can be a disaster for your CV. You can end up with a CV as long as your arm or an unbalanced picture of your career.
The first thing to do when revisiting your CV is to give yourself space to work with. A two page CV is perfect. Include only what is most important.
Body Language in an Interview – Do’s and Don’ts
In an interview, body language says a lot about a person. You can spend lots of time preparing answers to questions you think might get asked, but at the end of the day, if your body language does not come across well to the interviewer, it is very unlikely that you will get a positive response from them. First impressions are really important to the success of an interview. So here are a few do’s and don’ts of how to send the right message with your body language.
Do have a confident walk. As soon as you enter the building, your body language is being assessed. Walk tall with a straight back. It will make you look more confident when you go to enter the actual interview.
Do keep eye contact. It is important to maintain a good level of eye contact with the interviewer, otherwise it may come across that you are intimidated.
Maintain a good distance from the panellists and avoid keeping your bag or hand on the table. Keep your hands firmly on the arms of the chair.
Do sit with a straight back. Don’t slouch in your chair as this comes across as though you don’t want to be in the interview.
Do smile. Even if you are nervous, a smile will make you come across as relaxed and comfortable in the environment you are in. It will also make you come across as a more approachable and friendly person.
Always make sure that you keep your hands away from your face while you are talking.
Try not to have your arms crossed or fiddle with your hair. These kinds of things can make it look like you are bored and can also be slightly irritating to the interviewer.
What not to do at an interview
Don’t come across as too confident. If this is the case, you may be seen as arrogant by the interviewer.
Don’t fidget while in the interview. This can make you look really nervous and can also be seen as slightly annoying.
Don’t touch your ears or nose. By touching your ears or nose, it is often seen as an indication that you are lying so avoid doing it. It also isn’t very pleasant for the interviewer to see.
Don’t sit with your arms crossed. This makes you come across as not interested and unapproachable. You want to try and be as friendly as possible, so try resting your hands on your knees.
Don’t stare at the interviewer. Whilst it is good to hold eye contact, try not to over do it. If you stare, it will come across as very intense and make the interviewer feel uncomfortable. If you are staring at them blankly it may look like you are trying to distance yourself, therefore you will look uninterested.
Don’t lean on the interviewer’s desk. This is intrusive and restricts their personal space making it uncomfortable for them.
Don’t chew gum. It is considered rude to come into an interview chewing gum. It may look like you are not serious about the interview and it will give the interviewer a very bad first impression.
Don’t lean towards the door. This implies that you cannot wait to dash out of the door. The interviewer will think you are not interested, as it will seem like you just want to leave the room.
Example interview questions
When preparing for an interview you should put together a bank of example questions and prepare answers. Here’s a list of common interview questions to get you started.
Biographical interview questions
Tell me about yourself?
What are you strengths?
What are you weaknesses?
What five adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
Why are you leaving your current job/shifting the field you earlier chose to pursue?
Why have you applied to the particular organisation?
What motivates you?
Where do you see yourself in five years / ten years?
What is your greatest achievement?
Do you prefer to work as part of a team or independently?
Why should we hire you?
If I were to speak to your family / friends / previous employer, how would they describe you?
What element of this role do you think you would dislike the most?
What type of boss do you prefer?
Why did you choose this career?
Stress interview / difficult questions
You seem a little over qualified?
You seem a little under qualified?
What is the biggest mistake you have ever made?