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Interview Tips


  • Jonathan Davison · October 28, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Free Interview Tips

    Interviews are about presenting yourself in a positive and confident manner and we have interview skills and tips to help you. Many candidates are often worried that by “overselling” themselves they may appear arrogant and, as a result, they opt for mainstream answers which can sometimes appear fairly vague.

    Our coaching provides a number of interview techniques that you can apply to ensure that you do yourself justice and improve your interview skills to a level that will make you one of the strongest candidates. For some free interview skills and tips continue reading and we’ll tell you 9 crucially important interview skills and tips:

    Spend time to know yourself

    It may sound corny, but many candidates fail simply because they have not spent any time thinking carefully about what they can offer. Take time to think about your experience, why it would make you an ideal candidate for that post and how you can demonstrate it through concrete examples. Practising too early can be detrimental to your confidence as you will keep repeating the same mistakes and will get frustrated. Only practise and go through mock interviews once you have gathered your thoughts.

    Research the job and your future employers

    Your interviewers will want to know whether you are fit to join their company. At an interview, you will find it difficult to demonstrate that you are the best candidate if you don’t know what they are looking for and how the company may fit within your overall career plan. In addition, demonstrating knowledge of the company will ensure that you come across as a motivated individual. Use all the sources available to you, including any information sent to you by the company with the application, the company’s and other websites, their Annual Report & Accounts (which can usually be downloaded from their website – if not, ask them), etc.

    Keep your answers under 2 minutes

    Lengthy answers do not make the points clearly enough, whilst short answers tend to make too few points. No one will be prepared to listen to you for more than 3 minutes anyway. So as a general rule, ensure that your answers fit under the 2 minutes timeframe, with a bit more maybe for answers to some of the more open interview questions (such as “tell me about yourself”).

    Clearly headline each point in your answers

    Too many people waffle around a topic without stating clearly what they are trying to say. Once you have derived a clear structure, ensure that each section is headlined by the message that you are trying to convey. For example, if you are being asked a question such as “What are your main strengths?” you could structure and headline your answer as follows:

    •One of my key strengths is my ability to keep a team motivated, even at difficult times.
    •I am also a very approachable and supportive person.
    •Another one of my strengths is my resilience and hardworking attitude, and particularly my ability to complete projects.
    Expand on each point with your personal experience

    Simply stating a series of headlines will make your answer sound “cheesy” i.e. no more than a succession of sound bites which have no real impact by themselves. Interviewers do not only want to know your own opinion of yourself, they want you to back up the claims that you make with examples from your experience. If you adopt a structure to keep your answer under 2 minutes it will ensure that you keep your examples succinct and to-the-point.

    Use active verbs and power words to describe yourself

    Most candidates, in their fear of overselling themselves, use words which do not reflect their true level of confidence, skills, competence. If you want to make a strong impact you cannot use expressions such as “I was involved in” too often as they reflect a situation in which you played a role rather than the role itself. You should use words and verbs such as: “played a key role in”, “managed”, “elaborated/built on”, “was instrumental in”, “achieved”, “proposed”, “derived”, “proficient/competent in”, “confident in”, etc

    When answering questions use the STAR or CAR framework

    The STAR and CAR framework is a well-known (though often neglected) interview technique to answer questions asking for an example, and it is certainly a method which all HR professionals will have trained in and learnt to recognise. It is important that you practice it thoroughly so that you can use it naturally at your interview.

    Behaviour and body language

    Your body language will give a lot of information to your prospective employers about you. They probably will not be looking at it specifically (unless it is so bad that they can’t miss it!) but they will be subconsciously affected by it throughout the interview.

    After the Interview

    Follow up – a letter or call following the meeting thanking interviewers for their time is entirely appropriate.

    As trite as it might sound, treat it as a learning experience – it genuinely is the best way to hone in your skills for future interviews.


    Interview skills courses and one–to-one coaching interview skills coaching will help you improve your interview technique, gain confidence in your delivery and refine your body language.

  • Admin comment by admin · October 28, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Thanks for those useful comments Jonathan – I am sure there will be others who can contribute their good (and bad) Interview advice and experience

  • Interview Tips - www.jobblog.co.nz · November 2, 2009 at 7:31 am

    [...] Interview Tips [...]

  • Tom O'Neil · November 2, 2009 at 7:47 am

    How do you respond to taxing questions?…

    Typical Interview Questions

    Tell me about yourself…
    Relate a brief account of your achievements, work history and education. Make sure that statement relates to the position you are applying for and don’t be afraid to sell yourself.

    Why do you want to work here?
    This is a vital question, as they are attempting to find out your motivation for their business specifically. Share your knowledge of their business and comment on how your skills, experience and education would fit so well with their company.

    Why did you leave your last job?
    This is a standard question. Here the interviewer wants to understand why you have left (or are looking to leave) and see if there were any issues or problems that you may have had and could bring to their company. Always be honest! If there were problems, explain them briefly.

    What are your strengths?
    As you have done your research on the job as well as the company, you will be able to visualise what they are looking for. Phrase your answer in this context as well as giving an example of each strength.

    What are your weaknesses?
    Choose a weak area prior to the interview. Only state one weakness and say what you did in order to overcome it. Overcoming a weakness is actually developing a strength!

    Where do you want to be in five years?
    Respond in behavioural terms. For example do not say “In the role of Human Resources Manager” to the Human Resources Manager! Instead respond in a way that shows you are after a challenge, but does not say “get out of my way – here I come!” A good example could be “In a position that provides a strong challenge in the Human Resources (or whatever setting you are applying for) environment.”

    What remuneration / salary package salary are you after?
    Always be honest and not greedy. It’s a waste of time being in an interview for one hour and then find you and the interviewer have widely differing salary expectations. Try to do some research prior to the role and look at what the industry is offering for similar positions. If you are uncertain, phone a recruitment consultancy and they will give you some indication of the salary for the job you seek.

  • Interview questions - www.jobblog.co.nz · November 2, 2009 at 7:49 am

    [...] Interview Tips [...]

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