General Hints and Guidelines
Think about yourself
It is important before a job interview to think about all the reasons why you are attending it and what you have to offer the organisation. Be ready to discuss both short and long term career goals in general terms.
Gaps in CV
You will also need to explain gaps in employment. If you worked in a temporary capacity but didn’t put it on your CV, know the details of which companies you worked with, what you did for them and the length of the assignments. If you did not work but did search for a job give some examples of the research you did regarding job opportunities and the process you went through to find the position.
Reasons for leaving
Prepare to discuss the reasons you left your previous jobs. If it was for a better opportunity, explain how it was an opportunity. If you left involuntarily, present the reason in the most positive light you can. Make sure your responses are honest and be positive.
Research the job
Before attending any job interview it is a good idea to research the organisation and familiarise yourself with the following:
- Size of organisation, number of employees.
- History, how long have they been operating – do they have any affiliated organisations or belong to an umbrella group?
- General information about their services/products/aims etc.
- Major competitors or other organisations operating in the same field.
- Job description – understand the skills required for the position.
- Relationship between the open position and other members of staff - have a sense for the department.
- Have some well thought-out questions that would help further your understanding of the organisation e.g. How will the organisation be affected by the new legislation on xyz… or How do you see the organisation developing over the next year/three years?
- Feedback to your consultant how you thought the interview went and tell us whether you would be interested in the job if it were to be offered to you.
What is the employer looking for?
Employers use interviews to confirm that an applicant has the required knowledge, skills and willingness to contribute and fit into the organisation’s culture. They also want to see if your career goals are in line with opportunities available with their organisation. They are looking for the potential in prospective employees to become valued, trusted, productive team members of their organisation.
You must try to consider how you can display your skills and experience in a good and honest light and provide employers with the evidence that you are the right person for the job. Here are some brief points to consider:
- Are you a self-starter, able to work without constant supervision?
- Can you be depended upon in critical situations and follow work through to completion?
- Are you enthusiastic and easy to work with?
- Can you work under pressure?
- Recruiters need to know what drives you to want the job and why you want to work for the organisation in particular.
- Can you manage your time effectively?
- How do you structure your day’s work?
- How do you plan your day and week?
- How did you handle sudden unplanned work or crisis?
- Can you handle constructive criticism in a productive manner?
- Are you objective in evaluating yourself and others?
Recruiters look for an objective analysis of your abilities. For strengths, recruiters want to know why you think it is strength and where it has been demonstrated. For weaknesses they want to know what steps you could take to improve.
You will rarely be working alone so being able to work as part of a team is valuable. Co-operation and ability to work well in a team environment are some the most valued skills in employees.
- Can you work well with a variety of people?
- What would you do to help a team of people work together better?
Points to consider throughout the interview
- Be prepared with answers to the traditional job interview questions. Rehearse your answers with a friend who will give you honest feedback about the content of your answer and body language.
- Aim for clarity, brevity and above all, honesty. Give honest answers with a positive tone.
- Concentrate on the employer’s needs, not yours.
- Emphasise how you can help the organisation achieve its goals.
- Describe your past responsibilities and accomplishments.
- Explain why you approached projects in a certain ways.
- Explain how the skills you bring will benefit the organisation.
- Don’t downplay your accomplishments or attribute them to luck.
- Be specific in your answers. Avoid rambling or getting off on a tangent.
- Ask for clarification if you are unsure of the question.
- Ask the employer if they think it would be helpful to add information about skills or experiences that you believe are relevant but which have not been covered during the interview. Take responsibility for communicating your strengths. Don’t rely on the interviewer to pull it out of you.
- Consider the types of skills and characteristics you think the employer needs in the applicant to be successful in the job for which you are attending an interview, e.g. attention to detail, diplomacy, leadership, persistence, problem solving and planning, stress management, team building, technical.
- Once you have determined what you think the employer will be looking for, write out examples of situations that showed your skills in those areas. Explain your past successes, the more you can clearly describe the experience, the people involved, the challenge and the solutions, the more you’ll stand out in the interviewer’s mind.