5 ways to ace that interview

22 11 2010

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Ok so this might very well seem obvious to some, however, working in recruitment, I’m often amazed at how people seem to miss the basic things that will help them succeed at interview!

So here goes…My 5 ways to ace that interview!

1) Turn up on time (not too early not too late)

How you present yourself is key to how the interviewer perceives you.  You’ve one chance to be on time – something you’ll be expected to do regularly when you work for the company – so make sure you’re on time.  If you’re early, walk round the block, visit the ladies/gentlemen’s or go for a coffee, before you’re called up to your interviewer.  Being about 5-10 minutes early is fine.

2) Have a copy of your CV to hand

This is really important if you have either filled in an application form online or an agency is representing you as again, it’ll help the interviewer see how you present yourself both on paper and in preparation for the interview.  Also, and you may find this shocking, I once had an agency candidate come to an interview based on the incorrect CV – it was totally unrecognisable to them bar their name at the top!  Fortunately they had a copy of their CV so we were able to carry on!  This is an extreme but accurate reminder of taking responsiblity for how you present yourself.

3) Research the company and evidence this where you can

We have so many tools available to us to find out about a business before we turn up on the door – their website, Linked In, the internet, other people we know.  Make sure you find out as much as you can about the business before you show up, aside from what they do!  When were they founded?  Where are they based?  What’s their business strategy?  Who works with/for them?

4) Address your interviewer by name and know who they are/what they do

Forgetful when it comes to names – now’s not the time to forget who you’re meeting.  But if you do get interviewnervitis and forget the details, how about you write the interviewers name down in folder/notepad and take it with you in the interview.  This can help remind you of who you’re speaking to and also is quite helpful if you’ve a list of questions prepared to ask on the same page.  Also, just as it’s important to know about the company you’re interviewing with, it’s equally important to know who is interviewing you.  Google them – check them out on Linked In….  Knowing who you’re meeting with can be really helpful to build that all important rapport.

5) Be prepared for questions

Before the interview, find out what sort it is going to be?  If its competency based then check out the job description to figure out what sort of things they’re going to want to know about what you’ve done in the past.  If it’s a situational interview then go through your CV with a fine tooth comb!  If there’s anything on it that you feel remotely concerned about (people usually over-embellish their interests/hobbies section for instance) then delete it.  If you’re uncomfortable about being asked particular questions – why are you interested in this job?  Why did you leave X employer?  etc etc, be prepared for those questions to be asked and have an answer.

To get a really competitive advantage, you could also take a look at our Essential Guide to Interview where we give advice to interviewers on what to do.

So there we have it.  My 5 sure ways to ace that interview.  What are you waiting for!  Go be amazing and ace that interview!

If you need interview help, career coaching or a friendly ear to talk to before you go for that job, get in touch today.  We offer career coaching, CV re-writing and key interview support via our sister brand Change Paths.


How to Interview – Step 9 – What to do if?

14 06 2010

The joy of working with people is that each situation is different, here are some handy hints on What to do if….

…The candidate hasn’t arrived

Give them or their agency a call and find out what’s happened.  It may be the traffic has got in the way or that they have gone to the wrong address.  Either way we recommend you allow them at least 15 minutes to turn up.

…The candidate really isn’t suitable and I don’t want to waste my time interviewing them?

Remember it’s important to leave a good impression of your organisation and to demonstrate a fair and consistent process for all candidates by providing all candidates with the same opportunities.   Therefore, it’s important that you still continue with the interview in all situations.

…I have no evidence?

There may be some occasions where some areas of the role profile or a particular competency have not been probed fully enough or even asked about. In this situation you should use the ‘0’ or “no evidence” from the rating scale.

…I have evidence spanning two competencies?

The evidence that you gather should only be classified under one area or competency, so that you do not fall into the trap of over-interpreting one piece of evidence by considering it twice. Consider the evidence that you have obtained and make a decision about where it is most appropriate.

…I have a similar amount of very good or very poor evidence?

If a particular piece of evidence is very good or very poor, make sure that your rating reflects this. You should be very careful that you do not over-emphasise the importance of just one piece of evidence. Refer back to the whole competency definition, and make sure the rating reflects this whole area.

…All my ratings are in the middle of the scale?

To be objective and fair to all candidates it is important to make use of the whole rating scale. Be prepared to use the 1 and 5 ratings. Remember, someone does not have to move heaven and earth to get a 5!  However occasionally candidates may perform satisfactorily across all competencies, therefore earning a 3 in all areas.

… The candidate is not prepared?

In today’s technologically friendly society, there should be no reason why candidates do not arrive prepared and equipped for the interview. If this situation does arise it is best practice to  ask the candidate if they feel comfortable continuing with the interview, or whether it needs to be rescheduled.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed our “How to Interview” Series which comes from our Recruitment Training for Managers programme.  For more information please get in touch with us at info@creative-leadership.co.uk.  We’d love to hear your feedback on how you’ve put our advice into practice.

How to Interview – Step 6 – The Competency Based Approach

19 05 2010

Competency Based Interviewing is considered to be one of the more robust methods of interviewing for likely job success (there are many views on how successful interviewing is as a predictor of job performance…)

Unlike situational interviewing (What would you do if…) competency based interviewing is essentially a structured series of questions that looks at how a candidate has done specific tasks in the past.  It’s intention is to determine the person’s likely behaviour against specific job-related competencies’.

Advantages of this type of interview are: –

  • Questions asked are based on the competencies required for the role and can be seen as relevant to the skills needed for the job by asking the candidate to provide specific examples.
  • The information can be gathered in the interview and evaluated on a rating scale against the particular competencies.
  • Information from the interview can be integrated with other sources i.e. role-play, if they are all based around the same competencies.

How to do it.

First things first, identify no more than 4 competencies  which are relevant to the job you’re recruiting for (speak to us if you need to know more about how to do this).  Some example competencies include – Communication, Initiative, Impact, Team work, Problem Solving, Leadership etc.  Determine before you start the selection process and what good and bad looks like for each of the competencies.

You may wish to share the competency headings with the candidates in advance of the interview, albeit most companies don’t.

At the interview here’s a suggestion for a framework for undertaking the competency based interview:

  • Introduction
  • Then, for each competency:
    • Introduce the competency
    • OPENING questions (tell me about a time, give me an example)
    • PROBING questions (use the B-A-C-K model to help you here by asking behavioural/appraisal/comparison and knowledge related questions)
    • Summarise what the candidate’s said
  • Close the interview
  • Candidate Question time

Summarising the evidence is a useful tool to ensure that you have understood the candidates’ example fully and also that you’ve written down what they’ve said.  The summary does not need to be a repeat of all of the evidence but should cover the key points, thereby offering the candidate an opportunity to add additional information.

During the interview you should write down as much of what they actually say as possible. This will allow you to fully evaluate your evidence against the competencies and associated behavioural indicators at the end of the process.  It’s important that you resist the urge to classify and interpret what the candidate is saying at this stage, as well as putting their comments into your own words.  Also, remember that all notes and summaries should be kept on file after the interview and can legally be requested by a candidate.  They can also be submitted as evidence in the case of an employment tribunal, so be mindful of what you write.

Once the interview is completed thank the candidate for the information they have provided and advise them of the next steps in the process.  Take some time after each interview to write-up your notes and evaluate the evidence.  We’ll spend some more time focussing on that next time.

For more information about how to competency based interview, please get in touch with Michelle on 01202 853647 or email us at info@creative-leadership.co.uk