Preparing to interview
- Getting an interview is a big step and an achievement in itself – take confidence in this and get ready to showcase what you are capable of.
- It goes both ways – you need to learn if it’s right for you too. Be prepared and be yourself, show authenticity.
- To prepare well, you need to know yourself and research the role and the company.
- Plan your journey – make sure you know where you are going and take time of the day and traffic into account.
- Dress appropriately for the role and the business.
- Be on time, 10 minutes early is good but not too much earlier than that. Rather stay in the car and then head in 10 minutes before to sign in as required.
- Research – make sure you research the company and also the interviewers beforehand.
- Preparation – make sure you have read the job description and/or the job advertisement again so you know what the position is and what the company will be looking for.
- Body language – have a good strong handshake to start. Don’t move or fidget too much but do use hands and affirmations and don’t forget to smile even if you are nervous.
- Maintain a good eye contact.
- Do not smoke just beforehand or chew gum throughout the interview.
- An interview is an interview even when it is conducted over the phone, so make sure you prepare as thoroughly as you would for a face-to-face interview. You still need to present your strengths and put your best foot forward.
- Keep your answers concise, sometimes you can over talk when you are on the phone.
- Do not feel the pressure to rush to answer simply to avoid any silent gaps. Take the time to think before answering if you need it.
- Think about body language – even though you are not face-to-face, it is best to maintain a good posture, smile and even stand up as this can all be heard in your voice!
- Be ready to take the call early and be in a quiet place where you can talk freely and away from distraction.
- Some phone conversations are done as initial screening calls rather than a full-on interview. This is when a recruiter or the hiring manager will ring to have a quick chat to see how you align with their position and whether they will proceed to the next stage. This is a reminder to make sure you know what roles you have applied for.
This could be a second interview, or it may be more of a ‘meet the team’ approach. It may feel less formal which might help you relax but keep your conversation and language professional and be aware of your environment.
- Make sure you plan the logistics around where you are going and any traffic.
- Even though it may not be as formal as a typical interview it is still best to prepare as best you can.
Virtual interviews (Skype and other online platforms)
Ensure you have the platforms downloaded and set up correctly so you have the means to do this remotely. As an earlier step you may be invited to record a digital interview, where you will see yourself on the screen and record your answers to pre-set questions. If you have done the preparation on your CV and using the STAR format, you should be adequately prepared for a digital interview.
- Do a trial and make sure your connection is working well.
- Set up your camera at the right angle and make sure the lighting is good.
- Even though this is not face-to-face ensure you still dress appropriately.
- Eye contact is important – while it is tempting to look at yourself on the screen, try and make the eye contact with the camera.
Interview question types
- Skills-based questions
- Behavioural questions
- Situational questions
- Open questions
- Closed questions
- Leading questions
- Probing questions
- Skills-based questions are directly related to getting to know your experience with tools, technologies and industry standards.
- They help recruiters find the difference between theoretical and practical knowledge.
- Behavioural questions allow the recruiter to deep dive into your aptitude and approach to a task/situation based on your past experiences.
- They are useful for revealing soft skills like trustworthiness, attitude and work ethic.
- Situational questions give the recruiter the chance to see how you would react to specific scenarios within your environment/office.
- They give a sneak peek into your instincts, confidence and decision-making abilities.
- Open questions allow the recruiter to ask for elaborate/explanatory answers to a question.
- They begin with: what, why, how, describe, explain, where, which and when.
- Closed questions allow the recruiter to ask a question where they want a definitive and short answer like “yes” or “no” or to answer with a word or two.
- Some of the words used in closed questions are: are, do, did, could, should etc.
A common approach to best answering interview questions is to use the STAR model – this is where you break down your answer into the following: Situation, Task, Actions, Results
This is where you set the scene and give some backstory to describe the who, what, where and when. This can show the kinds of situations you've been in, as well as the limitations of the situation.
This is where you describe what your role was and your exact part of the situation above was. A good way to answer this is by starting with “On the project, I was assigned to ….., I saw it was an opportunity where …”. Give a response that shows your exact role in the task, as well as your plans to solve the problem.
This is where you describe what the steps were that you took to solve this challenge, how you thought about any problems, and how you overcame the roadblocks to get results. You can also add in anything unique about your actions or your method that you think may be worth mentioning. In addition, some interviewers may ask follow-up probing questions to ask more in-depth questions.
This is where you sum up the tangible results of your work. For instance, describing how things were better off because of what you did, and any lessons you took from the process.