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Interview Guide
 
Overview
Although there is overwhelming evidence to show that interviews are a very inaccurate predictor of successful performance in a job, nonetheless, getting a job invariably involves an interview at some stage. So firstly, it may help to look at the interview through the employer's eyes.

The first interview is designed to allow the recruiter to test out whether you measure up adequately to the demands of the job and to assess you against other applicants. The selector will look more closely at evidence which you have supplied in your written application and explore your background in greater depth.

Broadly, the interview is likely to focus on:
 
Your intellectual qualities
What sort of person you are
How realistically you have assessed the job
How closely your skills and abilities match the criteria of the job specification
   
There is generally no secret about the list of selection criteria an employer will be looking for. Specifics may vary but all employers will be interested in your enthusiasm and commitment to the job and how you demonstrate it. Certain core skills will be very relevant to the selection process, such as:
 
Effective communication - can you express yourself clearly in speech and on paper?
Successful team-working - how well do you establish working relationships with others?
Managing people - can you organise others and set objectives?
Analytical and conceptual skills - can you understand the wider picture and see the implication of decisions by assessing facts and data accurately?
Time management - can you plan your work, set priorities and achieve objectives effectively?
 
It is important that you assess your strengths. Examine your weaknesses too, and think about what you can do to improve the situation. No employer expects superhuman qualities! A willingness to train and learn new skills is always important. The recruiter will, however, expect that you have analysed which are the core skills in the job for which you are applying. They will explore these areas in depth with the interview, so prepare well.
 
Different Interview Styles
 
The chronological interview
This is the traditional style of interview, based firmly on your written application, it asks you to explain what you have written on you form. It is predictable and includes questions like;

"How did you select you're A' levels?"
"What led you to study Economics at University?"
"Why are you interested in Health and Safety?"
"How do you see your career developing with our organisation?"
 
The competence based interview
Many employers are now using a structured criteria-based interview to ensure a fairer and more objective assessment of applicants. They will have decided on the selection criteria for each candidate and ask similar questions to supply evidence to determine whether or not they have the skills to do the job effectively. Applicants are marked on a set scale, according to how well they have demonstrated that they have the competencies required.

The competence-based interview is demanding and requires careful thought. For example, if the job requires you to "work closely with others to achieve an objective", the questions might be:

"How did you select you're A' levels?"
"What was your personal contribution?"
"Did you have to convince others of your viewpoint?"
"How did you persuade them?"
"Did you encounter any difficulties?"
"How did you deal with them?"
"Were you satisfied with the outcome?"
"Was it successful?"
"What would you change to make it more successful next time?"

In this style of interview, questions are more detailed and probing than in the traditional approach. You will need evidence, ranging from the general through to very specific. It is likely that the interviewer will challenge you on your opinions to test how well formulated they are. Make sure you prepare several examples from different activities to illustrate each criterion.
 
Preparation
Good preparation is essential. It will result in a confident performance, which will enable you to do your best. So work carefully through the following steps.
 
What have you to offer?
Look back through your application form and think about how you wish to project this information at interview. Remember that the application which you sent now sets the agenda for the interview.

Think about your skills. What evidence will you use in the interview to convince the interviewer that your claims to be a good organiser, an analytical thinker, a successful member of a team and a clear communicator, or whatever it may be, are valid?

You need to prepare as many examples as possible, using actual events in your life where you have displayed these qualities. It is important to link experiences in your academic life to other activities.

Prepare a brief word-picture which you can use in the interview, which outlines the circumstances, the action you took and the results you obtained. This example could be used to support your claim to be able to think creatively and analytically, to organise your time effectively and work successfully to achieve an objective. It might be helpful to remember the STAR approach = set the Situation, explain the Target, comment on the Action you took, and highlight the Result you achieved.
 
Research the employer fully
Be aware of any current issues affecting the organisation or its profession. Look at competitors' websites too.
 
Spot the question
Think of the obvious questions that you will be asked. Work out honest and persuasive answers such as:
 
- Why do you want to join us?
- What could you contribute to the company?
- What aspects of your recent job do you enjoy?
- Why are you leaving your current / last job?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
- How would your last boss describe you as an employee?
- What are your greatest weaknesses / strengths?
 
What to wear?
Work out what you are going to wear well in advance. Appropriateness is probably the key word here. It is important that you look smart but equally important that you are comfortable. Try your outfit on before hand and don't forget to clean your shoes!
 
Strong Openings
A useful tip is to think though the opening moments of an interview. Make sure you get off to an excellent start with a confident smile and a firm handshake. Remember that first impressions count. Make sure that you arrive 5 - 10 minutes early. This will give you a chance to focus on the interview ahead and relax.
 
Positive Thinking
"I am very good at..."
"I was successful in..."
Do consider your positive body language - maintain eye contact with your interviewer
Be yourself - smile, be honest and try to act naturally
   
Close of interview
Be prepared for the close of the interview and the inevitable, "What questions would you like to ask me?" Use this opportunity to gain information which may affect your decision about the job. Detailed questions on car parking policy, hours of work etc are not appropriate. If everything has been covered thoroughly, say so, and use the chance to establish what the next stage of the recruitment procedure will be.
 
After the interview
Remember, your interview finishes only when you leave the organisation. Any informal tour or meal could be part of the selection process, so act accordingly. Confirm your interest in the position when you leave and try and ask for their feed back. Good luck!
 
Please remember to call Convert to give us your feedback straight after the interview
Tel: 0208 420 4064