By Nicole Reynolds, Business Owner
Supply Chain and Logistics
Searching for a new position can be a daunting process. You may be the best person for the job but does it come across that way in an interview situation? Even the most talented people can struggle with securing their dream job! Interview preparation is the key. The more preparation the better – I say! Here are some tips and tricks to securing your dream job…
Preparing for an interview
- Find out as much as you can about the potential employer and any relevant industry news. You can do this via their website, LinkedIn and Google.
- Know who you will be meeting and their role in the company. Ask your recruiter about who will be interviewing you, review their LinkedIn profile. There may be some information about the individual on the company website.
- Have some questions ready about the particular role being offered. Don’t worry if your questions are already answered during the actual interview – just acknowledge this when you are asked if you have any questions.
- Think about your own skills and abilities and how they match the employer's requirements.
- Know your CV and be able to talk about your experience in detail without looking at your CV.
- Bring along any appropriate paperwork such as your CV, certificates, references, etc.
- Take a copy of the job advertisement in a folder – this is really impressive as employers like people who know what they want in their career.
Make a good impression
- Be on time for your interview (aim to arrive around 5 minutes before the agreed time).
- Have a practice run in getting to the employer’s premises if you are not familiar with the area.
- Dress to impress - conservative clothing (preferably a suit for men and skirt /pants with a corporate shirt for females, or a suit is even better) and neat grooming
- Be polite and friendly and remember to smile.
- Firm (not crushing) hand shake – limp hand shakes are very off-putting.
- Fresh breath!
- Show consideration to other staff present, especially the receptionist.
5 Key Areas the Employer will want to address
Why are you here? Why do you want to work for us?
Why do you want this position?
What kind of person are you? Can you fit in with our company values?
What makes you the ideal candidate?
Can we afford you?
Key areas the candidate should address:
What does the job involve?
What are the skills they are looking for in their ideal candidate?
Is this the style of company/ manager you could see yourself working for?
Closing Interview Questions
Are you a potential candidate for the role? Don’t be afraid to ask!
Am I a potential candidate for this role?
Is there anything else you would like to know about me or my skills and experience?
When can I expect to hear from you?
What is the process from here?
Practice your interview skills
Practice makes perfect! Try practicing your interview skills with a friend or family member. Have them ask you some typical interview questions and be aware of your body language and eye contact while answering. You are less likely to be nervous on the day if you have prepared beforehand.
Most people find it difficult to talk about themself in a positive way. Spend some time in your practice interview talking about your professional abilities, achievements and motivations.
People like confident individuals but certainly not over-confidence! The ideal interview style is a balance of confidence, sincerity and a down-to-earth approach.
Tips for a Successful Interview
Research the employer and interviewer.
50/50 rule – a good interview is a flowing conversation from both parties.
Do not talk over the interviewer and do not over-talk! You will do yourself out of a job. If you have a pressing question – store it and come back to it later.
Answer the question that is asked. Don’t veer off on a tangent! Provide clear and effective communication that makes sense. Provide an answer that is clear and concise. Do not ramble - offer examples of what you are trying to communicate.
Prepare answers for the standard questions, eg Why are you looking to leave your current employer? You can find hundreds more by Googling ‘Interview Questions’.
Do not bad-mouth or criticize current or previous employers/ managers.
Treat an interview as a two way street. You are finding out as much about them as they are about you!
Every answer needs to be great – you are trying to out-do your competition!
Send a thank you note/ email. If they offer you their business card email the interviewer to thank them for their time. But do not pester them!
The difference between a 1st interview and 2nd:
- Brief get to know you
- Not too specific
- Do you fit what I am looking for?
- More detailed interview and assessing if you are interested.
- This is when salary negotiation may come into play.
- More than likely you will be assessed by another member of the management team for a second opinion.
If you get to 2nd stage interview you have a good chance of getting the job so don’t blow it!
Only when the employer has advised that they want to hire you should you openly have a salary discussion. Once they have decided they MUST have you, this is the best time to negotiate - not before!
Never initiate a salary discussion.
If asked what you are looking for, try and throw the ball back in their court – ‘He who speaks first loses’
Employer: ‘What salary are you looking for?’
Candidate: ‘What would be the salary on offer for such a position?’ OR
‘What is your budget for the role?’ OR
Give yourself a salary range, ‘I am looking for a salary in between A to B.’
Research the market to see what you are worth in your field of expertise. Recruitment Specialists are an ideal place to start as they know the current market salaries.
Know what you want and need before entering into a salary negotiation. Similar to buying a house – you need to have a plan!
Know enough about the role to ensure your salary matches the job requirements.
If you agree to a lesser salary (because you want the job/ company), ask for a 6 month review – written into your employment contract.
When negotiating your salary, ask about bonuses, incentive schemes etc… BUT REMEMBER these systems can change at anytime and are usually up to the discretion of the management team and are never guaranteed.
As a general rule, big name companies pay less than smaller privately owned companies.
Behaviour based questions
If you have recently been to a job interview, you may have noticed questions starting with:
- ‘Give me an example of a time when you…’
- ‘Tell me about a situation where you….’
- ‘What steps did you take….’
- ‘How did they react…’
- ‘What was the outcome…’
These types of questions ask you to give specific examples of your past behaviour. This is the aim of behavioural interviewing. The underlying principle is that your past behaviour is the best predictor of how you will perform in the future.
The best preparation for this type of interview is to have some specific examples in mind and be ready to talk about them. There is no need to be overly rehearsed. Remember that the interviewer wants you to be honest and be yourself. The interviewer wants to know how you handled those past situations, what actions you took and the eventual outcome. Here are some examples of behavioural based questions grouped by skill:
Adaptability: Tell me about a situation where you had to adjust to change, which you had no control over? How did you handle it?
Analytical/ Problem Solving: Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem. What did you do? What was your thought process? What was the outcome? What do you wish you had done differently?
Communication: Have you ever had to ‘sell’ and idea to a co-worker? How did you go about it and did they accept your idea?
Decision Making: Give me an example of a time when you had to be quick in coming to a decision? What obstacles did you face and what did you do?
Initiative: Tell me about a time where your initiative caused a change to occur?
Interpersonal Skills: Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. Why was this person difficult and how did you handle it? How did the relationship progress?
You can Google behavioural interview questions for more examples. REMEMBER to practice some questions prior to going into an interview, preferably with a friend or family member.
Practicing in your head does not count – YOU MUST practise out loud!
Other common interview questions
Why are you interested in this role/company?
Why do you want to leave your current role?
Tell me about yourself?
(This is your opportunity to shine! Paint a picture of your career and how you got to where you are today. It should be a 3-5 minute snapshot. Do not ramble.)
How would your friends describe you?
What is your ideal role in the future? Where do you want to be in two years?
How do you handle conflict?
How do you work as part of a team?
Prepare – do your homework.
Practice your interview techniques – out loud!
Dress to impress – don’t underestimate the power of first impressions.
NEVER cancel or reschedule an interview – (unless you are genuinely unable of course).
BE 5-10 minutes early. If you happen to arrive 30 minutes early, do not go in yet as they will not be prepared for you and it will put pressure on your interviewer.
Your research on the company and the job should give you an idea of whether you should pursue an interview. If you are not excited about the opportunity, don’t go to the interview. DO NOT WASTE THEIR TIME if you are not interested. People move around and you never know where the interviewer will end up. They may be interviewing you for a future role. Trust me I have seen this happen!
ANSWER THE QUESTION and prepare your answers.
Debrief - if you are going for multiple positions at the one time they can get blurred so write a quick overview of your interview, who it was with, the job, who interviewed you, what was your gut feeling on leaving etc. Sometimes decisions or even 2nd interviews take a while so you don’t want any confusion.
Last but not least – be yourself! There is no point trying to be something you’re not. It will only end in disappointment for all parties. Be honest about your experience. If you get the job they will soon discover your abilities so there is absolutely no point in being dishonest. You will only find yourself preparing for interviews again in another 6 months!
GOOD LUCK! Nicole
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