how to prepare for an interview for private and government jobs
how to prepare for an interview is question we have in our mind when we are going to face it,there will be an desire to us to get an job,so Boost your chances of success by following this advice on interview techniques.
Acquire more knowledge about interviews by reading by following
INTERVIEWS are 4 types
3.FACE TO FACE
Some graduate employers use an initial telephone interview to eliminate unsuitable candidates. Successful applicants are usually then invited to a face-to-face interview or an assessment centre. Telephone interviews usually last for around 30 minutes.
An alternative to the traditional telephone interview, some organisations, particularly those recruiting in sales, media and marketing, will screen candidates via Skype, FaceTime or YouTube. Video interviews usually last for around 30 minutes.
Video interviews are an increasingly popular way of assessing candidates across all job sectors – this advice should help ensure you’re ready to take on the challenge
Often used in the early stages of the interview process to filter out large numbers of candidates, video interviews can vary in style and length. You may be asked to answer pre-recorded questions with an allotted time given for each response. Or the interview may be live, in a similar format to a traditional interview and carried out on a platform such as FaceTime or Skype.
The obvious benefits of a video interview are the money and time savings for both the recruiter and the candidate. It also means that the recruiter and their colleagues can watch the interview again rather than just relying on notes. They’re not without their disadvantages though, the main one being connectivity problems and time delays. Also, not everyone is comfortable on camera and this may put some candidates at a disadvantage. With some preparation these issues can be overcome and help you move on to the next stage of the process.
a) Be prepared
Talking on camera doesn’t come naturally to some people so it’s important to do some test runs to help you get used to it. Record yourself and watch it back to see how you look and sound. This is also a good opportunity to review your body language and make sure the background and lighting are okay.
As with any interview you should research the company and prepare answers to some of the most common interview questions. Another benefit of a video interview is that you can have some notes to hand. These need to be kept away from the camera and you shouldn’t fiddle with them during the interview as paper rustling will affect the sound and distract you from what’s being said.
b) Choose your location
Plan well in advance where you’re going to do the interview. Use a quiet location, where you won’t be disturbed by noises and people. Make sure the room you choose is tidy and use a clean and simple background so that the recruiter focuses on you.
Close any software on your computer that might play notification sounds, and switch your phone to silent, to guarantee you won’t be distracted. Also, let everyone in the house know you’re about to start the interview so they don’t interrupt.
You may be at home but it’s still a job interview and this is your opportunity to give a professional first impression – this means dressing appropriately. You should wear the same outfit you would have chosen for a face-to-face meeting with the employer. Although you should think about how your clothes will look on screen and avoid busy patterns and stripes for example.
d) Use positive body language
You should avoid slouching, moving too much or touching your face. Instead employers will be looking for you to make good eye contact, smile, listen and take an interest in what they’re saying. To help you do this your camera should be at eye level and you should look into it rather than at the screen.
If you’re nervous it can be easy to rush what you’re saying but remember that the employer wants to hear your answers. So speak clearly, and be careful not to interrupt as this is more easily done with the slight delay over the internet than during a face-to-face meeting.
e) Get technical
You also need to think about the lighting as it won’t be a great interview if you can’t be properly seen. To ensure you don’t get a shadow either use natural light from a window or put a lamp in front of the camera and adjust the distance to get the best result.
A few days before the interview you should test the computer, camera and any software that you’ve been asked to use. Make sure the picture is clear and the sound quality is good. It’s also worth checking your internet connection and ensuring that nothing on the day will affect it.
On the day of the video interview make sure everything is fully charged or plugged in as you don’t want the battery to run down. You don’t want to be still sorting things out as the interview starts so switch everything on at least half an hour before the interview and sign in to any software that you’ll need.
If there are any technical hitches, for example if you can’t hear the questions very well, don’t struggle through as you won’t put in your best performance. Mention the problem. It may easily be fixed, or the interviewer may be happy to end the call and redial.
The most common type of interview, face-to-face encounters can take place with either one interviewer or, more commonly, a panel. In some rare cases, you may interview alongside other candidates and questioning can either be strengths-based or competency-based. Face-to-face interviews usually last for between one and two hours.
What is a strength-based interview?
A strength-based interview focuses on what you enjoy doing, rather than what you can do like in a competency-based interview. But don’t be fooled, while you’re talking about what you like and dislike the employer is learning about what you’re good at, and not so good at. Strength-based interviewing has its foundations in positive psychology. The theory is that by identifying your strengths and matching them to the role you’ll be happier in your work, perform better, learn quicker and stay with the company for longer.
Unlike their competency counterparts, strengths interviews are more personal and allow recruiters to gain a genuine insight into the personalities of candidates and to see if they’d be a good ‘fit’ for the company. They also allow you, as the interviewee, to be selected on the basis of your natural abilities.
Why use strength interviews?
Competency-based may be the most common type of interview, but strength-based interviews are gaining in popularity as an increasing number of organisations recognise the benefits of such a method, of which there are many.
The strength-based approach is particularly useful when recruiting individuals who don’t have a lot of work experience and companies such as Aviva, BAE Systems, Barclays, Cisco, EY, Nestle, Royal Mail and Unilever all use strength interviews as part of their graduate recruitment process.
Another reason that employers are beginning to favour strength interviews is that candidates have less opportunity to prepare and rehearse their answers, meaning that interview questions are more likely to bring out the genuine interest, motivation and aptitude of interviewees.
An added benefit is that most people come across best when they’re talking about things they enjoy so strength-based interviewing makes for a more pleasurable interview experience all round, for both the interviewer and interviewee.
Strength-based interview questions
The strengths that employers look for depend on the job. For example, for a client or customer-facing role you’d be expected to enjoy, and be confident in, communicating with a variety of people and have experiences to back this up. Supporting examples could include volunteering with community groups, being a member of your university debate or social team or part-time retail work. As the recruiter is trying to get a sense of who you are in a short space of time, expect to answer a lot of questions. You could be asked as many as 30 questions in an hour-long interview.
Here are some examples of strength-based interview questions:
- What do you like to do in your spare time?
- What energises you?
- How would your close friends describe you?
- Do you most like starting tasks or finishing them?
- Do you prefer the big picture or the small details?
- Describe a successful day. What made it successful?
- What are you good at?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What did you enjoy studying at school or university?
- When did you achieve something you’re really proud of?
- What do you enjoy doing the least?
- Do you find there are enough hours in the day to complete your to-do list?
- What tasks are always left on your to-do list?
- How do you stay motivated?
- How do you feel about deadlines?
- Have you ever done something differently the second time around?
- Do you think this role will play to your strengths?
Strength questions don’t have a right or wrong answer, so don’t worry on that score. It is however important that you answer all questions honestly, failing to do so will give the interviewer a false impression of you.
Just like in any other interview you’ll need to include examples to back up, and illustrate your responses. You can draw these examples from all areas of your life including your studies, work experience, previous employment, volunteering or extra-curricular activities.
If you’re asked to identify your weaknesses stay away from generic responses such as ‘I’m a perfectionist’. Think of things that you’ve struggled with in the past and select a real weakness, such as a lack of organisational skills which impacts on your ability to meet deadlines, or low confidence when it comes to networking or public speaking. Ensure that you explain how your strengths compensate for this weakness and what you’re doing to overcome it. For example, for a lack in organisational skills you could explain how you’re using alerts and apps on your smartphone to positive effect and how a combination of lists, spreadsheets and a day planner help keep you on track. End this response on an upbeat note.
When you’re answering their questions interviewers will be taking note of your body language and tone of voice, which can provide clues to your sincerity. If you’re genuinely describing something you enjoy you’ll be animated and your enthusiasm and motivation will shine through.
Preparing for a strength-based interview
Many recruiters believe it’s impossible to prepare for a strength-based interview. The technique is designed to prevent candidates from planning or rehearsing their responses, plus, you have no idea what you’re going to be asked.
However, just because you can’t practise your answers doesn’t mean that there aren’t other things you can do to make yourself interview ready.
No matter the interview technique you still need to do your research into the company and the role. Read the person specification to identify what strengths and qualities the company is looking for. Then make a list of your own strengths. Include your academic, work and social achievements, when you’re usually at your best and what motivates you. Think about activities you enjoy doing, subjects you’ve enjoyed learning about, and also about things you don’t like doing and your weaknesses. Think about how all these strengths could be used to the advantage of the organisation you’re hoping to work for.
What is a competency-based interview?
Competency-based interviews (also known as structured, behavioural or situational interviews) are designed to test one or more skills or competencies. The interviewer has a list of set questions (each focusing on a specific skill), and your answers will be compared to pre-determined criteria and marked accordingly.
Competency interviews work on the principle that past behaviour is the best indicator of future performance. They can be used by employers across all sectors but are particularly favoured by large graduate recruiters, who may use them as part of an assessment centre.
They differ to normal or unstructured interviews, which tend to be more informal. In unstructured interviews recruiters often ask a set of random, open-ended questions relevant to the job, such as ‘what can you do for the company?’ to get an overall impression of who you are. A competency-based interview is more systematic and each question targets a skill needed for the job.
Key competencies regularly sought after by employers include:
- commercial awareness
- conflict resolution
- problem solving
Competency-based interview questions
Questions asked during a competency based interview aim to test a variety of skills and you’ll need to answer in the context of actual events. Which skills are tested will depend largely on the job you’re interviewing for and the sector you’ll be working in.
Expect questions opening with ‘Tell us about a time when you…’, ‘Give an example of…’ or ‘Describe how you…’
Competency questions you may be asked at interview include:
- Describe a situation in which you led a team
- Give an example of a time you handled conflict in the workplace
- How do you maintain good working relationships with your colleagues?
- Tell me about a big decision you’ve made recently. How did you go about it?
- What has been your biggest achievement to date?
- Describe a project where you had to use different leadership styles to reach you goal
- Tell me about a time when your communication skills improved a situation
- How do you cope in adversity?
- Give me an example of a challenge you faced in the workplace and tell me how you overcame it
- Tell me about a time when you showed integrity and professionalism
- How do you influence people in a situation with conflicting agendas?
- Give an example of a situation where you solved a problem in a creative way
- Tell me about a time that you made a decision and then changed your mind
- Describe a situation where you were asked to do something that you’d never attempted previously
- Tell me about a time when you achieved success even when the odds were stacked against you.
How to answer competency questions
Using the STAR (situation, task, action and result) method to structure your answers is a useful way to communicate important points clearly and concisely. For every answer you give identify the:
- Situation/task – Describe the task that needed to be completed or the situation you were confronted with. For example ‘I led a group of colleagues in a team presentation to potential clients’.
- Action – Explain what you did and how and why you did it. For example ‘We presented to around 20 big industry players in the hope of winning their business. I delegated sections of the presentation to each team member and we discussed our ideas in a series of meetings. After extensive research and practise sessions our group presentation went off without a hitch’.
- Result – Describe the outcome of your actions. For example ‘As a result of this hard work and team effort we won the business of 15 clients’.
Where possible try to relate you answers to the role that you’re interviewing for. While your responses to the interview questions are pre-prepared try to avoid sounding like you’re reading from a script.
Don’t attempt to wing it by thinking on your feet; the quality of your answers will suffer. Also avoid embellishing the truth at all costs. Any lies or invented examples can be easily checked.
The key to providing successful answers to competency questions is preparation, and the good news is, competency-based interviews are relatively easy to prepare for. Firstly, it’s essential that you read and understand the job advert. Next, from the job description or person specification pick out the main competencies that the employer is looking for and think of examples of when and how you’ve demonstrated each of these. Try to draw upon a variety of experiences from your studies, previous employment or any work experience you’ve undertaken.
Familiarise yourself with the STAR approach to answering questions and practise your responses with a friend or family member. You could also make an appointment with your university careers service to practise your technique at a mock competency interview.
Used primarily by large graduate employers to compare the performance of several candidates in a range of situations, assessment centres typically involve tasks such as presentations, group work, written tests and in-tray exercises. They usually last for one full working day.
Before the interview
Regardless of the type of interview you’re preparing for, doing plenty of research and planning is key. Generally, you should:
- Consider how you’ll explain problematic aspects of your career, such as gaps in your work history.
- Identify the skills, interests and experiences that the organisation is looking for by looking at its website and social media channels.
- Plan your journey in advance, aiming to arrive ten minutes before your interview is scheduled and ideally completing a ‘dry run’ beforehand.
- Prepare answers to common interview questions, as well as your own questions to ask at the interview.
- Find out about the people who’ll interview you.
- Research the issues, trends and opportunities affecting the organisation and the wider job sector.
- On the night before your interview, avoid alcohol, prepare your outfit and get plenty of sleep.
On the morning of your interview, eat a healthy breakfast and don’t consume too much caffeine. You can combat nerves by exercising – if you have time, of course – as this creates feelings of well being.
COMMON INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
This question, usually the opener, tops the list of typical interview questions. It’s incredibly important, as you can provide the interviewer with a great first impression. Preparation is key, but your answer mustn’t sound rehearsed. Focus on your skills, characteristics and successes, and how they make you a strong candidate in terms of the job description.
Keep your answer to less than five minutes. Generally, you should begin with an overview of your highest qualification and greatest achievements, before running through your work experience and giving examples of the skills that you’ve developed. If you’ve little work history, focus on the areas of academia that you’ve most enjoyed and how this relates to the job.
Why do you want to work here?
Demonstrate that you’ve researched the role by discussing the skills and interests that led you to apply. Draw upon what you enjoy; use examples from your academic, professional or extra-curricular life that suggest you’re strongly motivated for the role and can relate closely to the organisation. Tell the interviewer what particular aspect of the job advertisement enticed you.
Similar questions include:
- What do you know about the company?
- What motivates you?
What are your strengths?
Pick three or four attributes desired by the employer in the person specification; teamwork, leadership, initiative and lateral thinking are common examples. Whichever strengths you pick, ensure that you can evidence them with examples.
Similar questions include:
- How would a friend describe you?
- How would you describe your personality?
- What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
What are your weaknesses?
You can positively frame your answer by picking characteristics that you’ve taken steps to improve. For example, self-confidence issues could have previously led to difficulty accepting criticism; but tell the interviewer that you’ve learned to embrace constructive feedback as it allows self-improvement. Alternatively, discuss how you overcame a potential downside of your greatest strength; for example, you might have had to learn how to cope with conflict if you’re a great teamworker.
Never say that you have no weaknesses, that you’re a perfectionist, or that you work too hard. These are clichéd responses that portray you as arrogant, dishonest or lacking in self-awareness.
Similar questions include:
- How do you respond to criticism?
- How would your worst enemy describe you?
Give an example of a time when you had to cope with a difficult situation
This question is one of the most popular competency-based interview questions. It allows the employer to assess how calm and reliable you are under pressure. Outline an instance where you’ve coped with an unexpected problem, discussing how you reorganised and managed your time. Think about times where you’ve had to meet tight deadlines or handle difficult people.
Similar questions include:
- Give an example of a time when you had to cope under pressure.
- Give an example of a time when you’ve handled a major crisis.
- How do you manage your time and prioritise tasks?
- How do you respond to stress and pressure?
What has been your greatest achievement?
Ideally, your answer should evidence skills relevant to the job; teamwork, initiative, communication, determination and organisation, for example. For inspiration, think about a time when you’ve received an award, organised an event, learned something new or overcome a major fear. Always prepare several examples.
Avoid the achievement of graduating from university; this won’t distinguish you, unless you’ve had to deal with major difficulties such as illness or personal problems.
A similar question that you may be asked is ‘What are you most proud of in your working life?’
What are your goals?
This is your chance to show the recruiter that you’re ambitious and professionally determined. Talk enthusiastically about your realistic short- and long-term targets, basing your answers on the employer, the industry, and your skills and experiences.
Outline the various steps to your ideal job, but only in relation to the position that you’re applying for and the company’s career development offering. It’s vital that you explain how your goals make you valuable to the organisation. You could even mention your knowledge of relevant professional bodies and qualifications, or reveal that you’ve researched the career paths followed by other graduates.
A similar question is ‘What do you expect to be doing in five years’ time?’
This question, often the closer, allows you to demonstrate your unique selling point and other major strengths, outlining how your skills, interests and experiences fit the job. Ensure that you’re positive and perhaps even reemphasise your greatest achievements – but don’t boast.
Similar questions include:
- How would you improve our product or service?
- What can you bring to the team?
- What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?
- Why do you think you’ll be successful in this job?
Do you have any questions?
Anything that you ask should cover the work itself or career development. Prepare questions in advance; if all your queries have been answered, mention that the interviewer has covered everything you need to know. Remember to ask questions if the moment naturally arises during the actual interview.
Good interview questions to ask the employer include:
- How could I impress you in the first three months?
- How often is a graduate’s performance appraised?
- Is there anything that you would like to improve in your department?
- What are the travel requirements of this job?
- What development plans does the organisation have?
- What is a typical career path in this job?
- What training and development is provided?
- What’s the proposed start date for the role?
- What’s your personal experience of working for this organisatio
What to take
- a bottle of water
- a pen and notepad
- photo ID (e.g. your passport or driving licence)
- the job description and person specification
- your academic certificates and work examples
- your CV, application form and interview invitation.
The typical interview dress code is usually fairly straightforward for men: a dark suit and tie combination is the safest option. However, things are slightly more open for women. You could wear a dress, trouser suit, or a skirt and blouse; black, navy or brown are the safest colours.
You should also:
- avoid wearing too much jewellery or make-up
- cut and clean your fingernails
- ensure that any briefcase or handbag you take is smart
- polish your shoes
- tidily arrange your hair
- use aftershave or perfume sparingly
- wash and iron your outfit.
4 ways to make a good impression
Winning interview techniques include:
- Positivity – Be well-mannered with any staff you meet before or after the interview and, if you’re feeling particularly nervous, remind yourself that the very worst thing that could happen is you simply not getting the job. During the interview, avoid talking about any personal problems unless completely necessary, and never badmouth your previous employers.
- Body language – Give a firm handshake to your interviewer(s) before and after the session. Once you’re seated, sit naturally without slouching in your chair or leaning on the desk. Throughout the interview, remember to smile frequently and retain eye contact.
- Clarity – Answer all questions clearly and concisely, evidencing your most relevant skills, experiences and achievements. It’s perfectly acceptable to pause before answering a difficult question to give yourself thinking time, or asking for clarification if, at first, you’re unsure what the question means. When answering, don’t speak too quickly.
- Enthusiasm – It’s important that you allow your personality to shine throughout, as well as ask thought-provoking questions at appropriate moments. Both of these strategies will demonstrate that you’re genuinely interested in the role and listening closely to the interviewer.
Most university careers and employability services can help you to practice your interview technique. However, alternative methods of preparation include:
- Treating formal scenarios, such as dissertation discussions with your university tutor, with the same professionalism as you’d treat a genuine interview.
- Scripting and practising answers to common interview questions with someone you trust, perhaps even recording yourself and reviewing your performance.
After the interview
When leaving the organisation, let the interviewer know that you’re available to answer any follow-up questions. If you feel things went particularly well, you could email the interviewer the next day, thanking them for their time.
In most cases, the organisation will now have enough evidence to make their decision. In some cases, however, you may be asked to attend a second interview, which aims to more closely scrutinise what you and any other remaining candidates can bring to the role. Prepare for your second interview just like your first, but you should also:
- Request feedback from your first interview, before addressing anything that caused you difficulty.
- Research the organisation in even greater detail than for the first interview, preparing examples that demonstrate how you can benefit the organisation.
Don’t worry if you don’t get the job. Simply ask the recruiter for feedback, and follow these tips on how to respond to job rejection.