Ace That Interview! How to prepare and perform successfully ∂ Peter Fox [email protected] Careers Advisory Service www.durham.ac.uk/careers-advice Or.. How not to make a mess of your interview! ∂ Why do companies interview? • To assess the knowledge and skills that you have indicated in your initial application • To evaluate your skills and competencies under pressure ∂ • To judge how you would fit in • To create a positive impression (on both sides!) Ultimately, the interview will determine: Can you do the job? Will you fit in? Effective Preparation Think about…… • Practical – How will I get there? What shall I wear? Interview panel size? • Intellectual ∂ – Which questions will they ask me and how should I answer them? • Psychological – I am very nervous, but I really want to succeed Practical Preparation • How will I get there? – Plan ahead to arrive early – Use company website for directions • What shall I wear? – Depends on industry – Smart = professional • Interview panel? – How many people? – Who are they? ∂ The interview begins before the questions…..as soon as you enter the building ‘First impressions last’ Think about: • • • • Shaking hands ∂ Body language Eye contact Nodding and smiling A positive start to the interview makes a big difference Intellectual Preparation If only I could have the questions before the interview..... Questions will be focussed around: • Role ∂ – Use person specification and job description to predict questions • Company – See website, annual reports • Sector – Read industry journals, business pages, FT Intellectual Preparation Examples of key skills employers seek are: – – – – – – Flexibility Self awareness Motivation to learn Interpersonal skills Numeracy Communication -Team work -Time management ∂ -Problem solving -Decision making -Business acumen -Leadership So questions are based around these employability skills plus job specific skills Intellectual Preparation Examples of questions: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Describe a situation where your planning and organisation resulted in the successful achievement of a task. What did you learn at university that you can bring to this job? ∂ Give an example of when you worked well in a team. Why do you want this job? What problem solving skills could you bring to this company? Who are our main competitors? More questions and information on DUO file Intellectual Preparation Preparing your answers: Use the STAR system: – – – – Situation Task Actions Result - describe with clarity outline what needed doing your actions taken a successful outcome? Your evidence can be from: – – – – – ∂ Achievements at university Work experience / outside interests College activities eg sport/societies Family commitments Travel Practice your answers - talk about your achievements – sell yourself and emphasise your positive qualities! Your Questions • Ask questions that you genuinely want answered • The interview may have covered everything you need to know. If that’s∂ the case say so. Don’t ask a question for the sake of it! • It's OK to take a short list of questions with you to use in the interview Psychological Preparation Practice and preparation will help you to succeed • At this stage they are looking for reasons to appoint rather than reject you • You are there to secure the position – use opportunities to make your points ∂ • It’s a chance for you to see if the company matches your expectations ? • Positive attitude – They liked your application and on paper you are suitable: It’s up to you to show your suitability in person! Top Tips • Listen carefully to the question • Don’t just give yes/no answers • Avoid going off the subject – stay focussed • Volunteer relevant information about yourself • Be flexible in your preparation. Eg evidence of good communication could come from a question about working with clients, in teams or problem solving • Don’t be negative about former colleagues • Don’t lie about achievements and experiences • If you need to think about an answer don’t be afraid to say so ∂ Sources of Information Videos/ DVD’s • The assessment centre video • AGCAS Selection Success in One • AGCAS Why ask me that • AGCAS Can I have a few minutes of your time • The 70% solution Books • Great answers to tough interview questions pub. Kogan Page • Mike Bryon, how to pass graduate recruitment tests pub. Kogan page • How to suceed at interviews and other selection methods. University of London Careers Service ∂ Websites – www.durham.ac.uk/careers-advice/appointmentsonline – www.shldirect.com – www.durham.ac.uk/careers-advice – www.prospects.ac.uk – www.targetjobs.co.uk Sources of Information Leaflets • Preparing for an assessment centre • Preparing for a job interview • Psychometric tests available from the Careers Service (£1) Tests Go to www.durham.ac.uk/careers-advice/password/events_menu/ for ∂ information about: • Graduate Aptitude Tests • MBTI Personality Inventory • Assessment Centre Workshops Additional slides on interview questions and answers will be on the slides on DUO Questions? ∂ Additional Information ∂ Questions about Working with others Skills you should try to demonstrate: • Working in a team- motivating and supporting others, forming productive working relationships • Influencing people- without domineering ∂ • Dealing with the public- providing a service, answering queries • Persuading- listening or informing others • Managing- Being in charge of others • Negotiating-or selling • Sharing- ideas, information/abilities/ experiences for common goals • Dealing sensitively to the priorities, needs behaviours and feelings of others The Careers Group University of London Questions about Working With Others Examples: Academic Life • Group projects, seminar discussions Work Experience • Part-time/ vacation work ∂ roles • Group work tasks/ any leading • Family commitments • Community roles Leisure Activities • Clubs and societies • Society Committee Posts • Voluntary/ community activities The Careers Group University of London Questions about Communication Skills you should try to demonstrate: • • • • • • • • • Explaining Discussing problems Listening accurately ∂ Understanding individual’s behaviours and motivations from body language/ verbal clues Writing reports and letters Reading, understanding and summarising Persuading people Debating and using well structured arguments Language skills The Careers Group University of London Questions about Communication Skills Examples Written: Think of all the different styles of writing (creative, formal, factual..) – – Essays, reports, memos and letters Articles for student publications Oral: Include responding to the ∂ views of others, expressing your own ideas and negotiating to reach group solution) – – – – Tutorials, seminars Presenting papers Participating in committees Speaking at club or society meetings Presentations – Preparation of material/ oral presentation The Careers Group University of London Questions about Problem Solving Skills you should try to demonstrate: • • • • • • • Practically employing your degree expertise Diagnosing and rectifying faults in procedures Adapting to change Logical or methodical approaches ∂ Identifying new/ improved ways of work Creative, lateral thinking to devise new solutions Dealing with unknown factors in a situation The Careers Group University of London Questions about Problem Solving Examples • Academic and Intellectual Challenges on course • Resolving difficulties between flatmates • Doing crosswords or other “intellectual puzzles” • Showing a logical approach to∂tackling a difficulty (childcare responsibilities; toddler with a tantrum!) • Overcoming unexpected obstacles during foreign travel • Thinking of a new way to tackle an assignment • Identification of new ways to promote/ develop clubs or societies • Overcoming difficulties when organising event/ party The Careers Group University of London Questions about Business/ Commercial Awareness Skills you should try to demonstrate: • Knowledge of the company you are applying for/ it’s market • Competition- Aware of market forces in business decisions • Strategic Thinking- Clarity of vision in knowing where to go and how to get there ∂ the needs and concerns of the • Customer Focus- Understanding customer • Innovative approach- Continually seeking and encouraging alternative and fresh courses • Creativity, bringing insights and original ideas • Analysis- Breaking problems down into manageable components and solving them • Conceptualising- Identifying and connecting underlying assumptions and patterns The Careers Group University of London Questions about Business/ Commercial Awareness Examples • Read the financial times/ business pages/ company literature/ University information • Interest in the financial market ∂ • Run your own shadow/ fantasy equity investment portfolio • Successfully take a commercial risk: e.g. buy goods and sell at profit at car boot sale/ EBAY • Raise money (How much?)/ keep accounts for charity/ club • Gain work experience in commercial/ customer care role The Careers Group University of London Questions about Organising/ Prioritising Skills you should try to demonstrate: • • • • • • • • Take responsibility for a project Set objectives Plan resources and activities towards a goal ∂ Anticipate and avoid difficulties Juggle several projects simultaneously Use time effectively to meet deadlines and time manage Cope when things go wrong See the big picture but also have an eye for detail The Careers Group University of London Questions about Organising/ Prioritising Examples • Show how you plan work for any projects • Show how you organise work to fit in with other people • How do you organise your time between classes (clubs/ family/ work experience) • Responsibilities you have been ∂ given in vacation/ work experience and how you dealt with these • Organisation of society/ club events: what did YOU do • Arranging holidays/ travel • Paying of rent/ bills/ buying joint items in shared house • Bringing up children The Careers Group University of London Questions about you Tell us about yourself • Clarify your • • • • With reference to: • • • • • • Skills Knowledge Experience Academic achievements Work experience Outside interests Your philosophy on life ∂ Ask yourself, ‘what are the top five things I want this person to know about me?’” Emphasize the most relevant topics http://www.datsi.fi.upm.es/~frosal/docs/25mdq.html http://www.collegegrad.com/jobsearch/ Questions About Leadership Would you say you were a follower or a leader? Describe aspects of both – • Follower – – How you are capable of following directions. Realise the importance of listening well and being part of a team effort. • Leader – ∂ Demonstrate leadership skills: • • • • • • • Leading by example Passion Organisation Delegation Ownership and responsibility Communication Honesty Provide examples of these using the STAR system Questions about you Can you tell us about a weakness? o The interviewer is seeing if you can reflect on your own development and express it sensibly. o This question is designed to show interviewer you are aware of your faults and can deal with them. o Identify your possible weaknesses and prepare positive ∂ explanations of them. o Talk about a weakness that you can prove you have improved on/ can be corrected o Choose examples that show you are realistic about your capabilities. o Avoid false modesty e.g.: I work too hard. It sounds phoney. (http://www.personalandfinanceconfidential.co.uk) Questions about you – I’m impatient but I’ve learnt that you can get more out of people if you can give them a bit of space to do something you have asked – I’m not familiar with Microsoft Word but I have used other word processing packages and I am a quick learner ∂ – At University I initially found it difficult to write reports - but am now producing top quality reports. – I can forget things, so I overcome this by being very organised, keeping a comprehensive diary, wall chart and notes Questions about you What are your greatest strengths? • Don’t just talk about your strength—relate it to the position ∂ • Let them know you are a qualified candidate with the skills THEY require • Think of the skills required for the position you have applied for • Give examples of where you have shown these strengths Questions about you How are your studies going? • Keep positive • Can mention it is hard work but say you are enjoying it ∂ • Discuss how you have prioritised your work • Discuss a schedule • Mention achieving deadlines, good results, meeting targets • Try to incorporate in outside interests/ work experience you have managed to fit into your spare time. Questions about your commitment to the industry, employer and job Are you applying for other jobs? • You need to show that you are interested in their industry or field of work. ∂ • You need to show that you have not just been applying for any 'graduate' job.. • Only mention jobs that are closely related to the one you're at an interview for. • You should demonstrate a particular interest and commitment to their company/ their area of work. Questions about your commitment to the industry/ employer and job What are your long-term goals? • The interviewer wants to know if you have any career goals (in general), if you have ambition and if you have thought about where you are going ∂ • Refer back to the planning phase of your job search. • Think about the career structure of the organisation/ career area • Relate your goals to the company you are interviewing: 'in a firm like yours, I would like to..." http://www.datsi.fi.upm.es/~frosal/docs/25mdq.html Questions about the industry, employer and job What do you know about our organisation/ Why this Company? • Discuss products or services, revenues, reputation, image, goals, awards, management style, people, history and philosophy. • Show you have researched, but make it clear that you wish to ∂ learn more. • You might start your answer in this manner: "In my job search, I've investigated a number of companies. • Yours is one of the few that interests me, for these reasons..." • The company is doing things you would like to be involved with, and that it's doing them in ways that greatly interest you. • Discuss how your skills and previous experiences relate to the company http://www.datsi.fi.upm.es/~frosal/docs/25mdq.html Questions about the industry, employer and job What can you do for us that someone else can't?/ Why should we hire you ? • Use your employer research to identify the skills ∂ the employer requires • Talk about your key skills relevant to the position • Mention specifics from your CV or list of career accomplishments: using STAR. http://www.datsi.fi.upm.es/~frosal/docs/25mdq.ht ml Questions about your career decision making What do you look for in a job? • Keep your answer oriented to opportunities at the organization. ∂ perform and be • Talk about your desire to recognized for your contributions. • Focus on the requirements and challenges presented in the position • Make your answer oriented toward opportunity rather than personal security. http://www.datsi.fi.upm.es/~frosal/docs/25mdq.ht ml Surprise Questions • Some interviewers incorporate ‘original’ questions • Handle these calmly and methodically • They are to see how you react under pressure ∂ Examples: • When did you last lose your temper? • If I asked you to get me a tiger by tomorrow what would you do? • You see this pen in my hand? Sell it to me. • Why didn’t you achieve better A Level grades? • If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be? Technical Questions •Read the competencies required for the job •Read your application and make sure you can talk ∂ about the technical abilities you have mentioned •Think of examples of where you have implemented these Your Questions Good questions are specific, concise and easily understood • When could I be expect to be given responsibility in this job? • What do you like about working here? • What training or career development opportunities are there? • How do you let me know if I’ve got the job? • Are there any opportunities to ∂work overseas? • What do you make of the recent news that….? • Will I be working in a team and who will the team comprise of? • I understand your firm operates performance appraisals. How do they operate? • How do you define the training period for graduates? • What would be the typical career pattern for a graduate entering….? (Some examples taken from the University of Nottingham Centre for Career Development) Additional Questions How well do you work under pressure? • Emphasise that you work as well under pressure as you do at any other ∂time • Discuss how you prioritise tasks so that your workload is manageable Questions about you Have you ever had a bad experience with an employer? • This is to test whether you can be discreet and ∂ tactful. • Never talk negatively about a former employer even if you hated the sight of each other. • Try to explain, generally the methods you use to deal with difficult people. • Emphasise the importance of flexibility, perseverance and good communication.
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