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Successful job interviews

In a competitive job market those who are best prepared for the job interview will be the ones who receive offers of employment. Always research the organisation and the role you have applied for to ensure you make the right impression.

Prepare

Research will ensure you have a good understanding of the company and the position you are applying for. Its also important to know what your strengths are, so take time to consider how best to promote your professional knowledge, skills and experience.

Arrive ten to fifteen minutes early. Take an extra copy of your CV

Practice

Improve your interview technique with trusted friends and/or family. This is particularly important if you have not been through the interview process for some time. Practice your delivery of statements about yourself that are truthful, concise and direct.

Competency based interviews

Competency based interviews are used to make the interview process as standard and fair as possible. They are based on the premise that your past performance is the best predictor of future performance.

The word competency refers to skills necessary to achieve an effective performance level in the job. Every job will have a set of key competencies, some are essential, others desirable, all are required to do the job properly. Many employers list competencies as part of 'person specifications' within the job application information.

An example of competencies include:

  • Communication skills
  • Delivering results
  • Interpersonal / customer focused skills

The interviewer will ask questions relating to each competency, all directed towards discovering if you have the necessary skills. These usually start with phrases such as:

  • Tell me about a time when you..
  • Describe a time when you..
  • Give me an example when you..

The interviewer is looking for detailed and specific information about an event, task, project or experience and in particular, your involvement.

Base your answer on real experience, and a useful technique to help frame your answers is calledSTAR:

  • S= Describe the SITUATION
  • T= Talk through the TASK that evolved
  • A= Talk about ACTIONS you took
  • R= Describe the RESULT- use figures/data to illustrate

Ensure you understand the competencies for the role. Prepare answers relating to achievements on your CV or application form. Ensure you have good references and include them in your responses .

Prepare questions you want to ask the interviewer.You are not simply trying to get the job you are also interviewing the employer to assess whether this company and position match your expectations.

Impress with your responses

Try to remain calm and always be truthful. Ask for clarification if youre not sure whats been asked and its acceptable to pause to think about your answer. Make sure you relate to your background and experiences.

Dont criticise former employers. Instead, explain you had a difference of opinion in work philosophies/styles. Dont dwell on employers where things did not go well for you and keep your answer short.

End the interview with a thank you to the interviewer and reiterate your interest in the position.

Other points to remember

  • Dress appropriately - wear a conservative suit with coordinating shirt/blouse
  • Wear shoes that are clean and well polished
  • Dont overdo perfume, makeup or after shave and limit your jewellery
  • Maintain eye contact with interviewers when talking
  • Switch off your mobile phone
  • Its better to be overdressed than underdressed
  • If you are unsuccessful then contact the employer and learn from the feedback they offer.