How to Prevent an Interview Disaster and Ensure a Perfect Interview

Ever feared an Interview Disaster? Missed the perfect opportunity to shine? Let´s make sure this doesn´t happen to you.

“When we read Kirstie´s CV we thought great!  But, ten minutes

into the interview, we knew we’d have to continue our search.”

Ann, Senior Consultant, A Perfect Career

So what happened?

When Ann invited Kirstie for a job interview, she wanted to hear what set her apart from other candidates.  Moreover, she wanted proof.

Unfortunately, Kirstie´s interview technique lacked preparation and she failed to convince Ann of the value she had to offer and missed the chance to get the job.

An all too familiar interview scenario!

It helps to know exactly what interviewers look for.

As MBAs, HR managers and recruitment consultants, we understand what the interviewer is looking for.  But, to be honest it is not a mystery!  Whichever recruitment job site,  whichever employer website or whichever vacancy column you read, the same key competencies and `soft skills are specified time and time again …

  • Initiative
  • Flexibility
  • Self-confidence
  • Orientation to change
  • Management of pressure
  • Consistency of performance
  • Customer service orientation
  • Creativity
  • Solutions driven
  • Ability to influence
  • Relationship building
  • Cultural / Diversity awareness
  • Interpersonal understanding
  • Teamwork and team leadership

Just look at extracts from job advertisements – all seeking people who will:

·       provide value-added

·       be influential and credible

·       have a solution led approach

·       demonstrate a flair for communication

·       possess outstanding influencing skills

·       be business and performance-focused

·       take a commercially strategic approach

·       collaborate and build relationships across the business

·       be capable of devising and delivering successful strategies

·       be able to inspire confidence, and make balanced judgments

·       have ambition – a self-starter, with enthusiasm and fresh ideas

·       be able to inspire and lead your team to deliver first-rate results

·       be a team player but able to work and make decisions independently

So when conducting job interviews, recruiters have clearly defined expectations!  They know what they are after – and rest assured, they never ask a question without knowing the answer they want.

While some deceptively simple interview questions might be easy to field, others are more subtle.  Your answers to interview questions will speak volumes about your capabilities, personality and style – whether you fit the job profile and employer’s culture –  and whether you get the job.

Tips to ensure a Perfect Interview

The best way to prepare for a job interview is to research the company and market in-depth to enable you to answer questions relevant to that particular work environment. Visit the company website to gain an insight into their business, culture, market environment, goals and the challenges to be overcome. Successful candidates are the ones who have really done their research and can express genuine interest! Don’t try to “wing it”!

Related:  Interview Checklist: Things To Do Before, At The Day and After the Interview

Review sample interview questions and answers and carry out a mock interview by formulating and perfecting your own answers to potential questions.

Sample job interview questions and answers

These interview questions seek to cover issues that concern employers today:

  • How do you think you could add value to this company?
  • If we contacted one of your colleagues, what would they say about you?
  • Do you enjoy working within a stimulating, yet challenging environment?
  • It seems your company went into liquidation, which key factors caused this?
  • It appears you have held quite a number of jobs, why do you suppose this is?

Use the STAR-L approach when responding to interview questions:

Situation: Outline a situation where you developed a particular experience or used the required skills or qualities.

Task: What was your role and what did you have to do?
Action: What did you do and how did you do it?
Result: What did you achieve? What were the results?
Learning: What did you learn. What would you do differently next time?

Interview preparation will help you respond easily and convincingly to the above and other questions that can be tailored to your level of career

Sell yourself!  This is no time to hold back!  A successful interview technique is to give an example of one of your accomplishments that relates directly to the job vacancy. Review your CV Resume and job profile and find an example that would be beneficial to the company.

If you applied with a targeted cover letter, draw on that for your response. For instance, if a recent graduate and you are interviewing for a job involving teamwork, explain to the interviewer how during your degree you worked on many team projects and this involved brainstorming ideas, pooling resources, providing support and working together to deliver a presentation within timescale and with a high 2:1 result

Interviewing tips – a few guiding principles

• Listen carefully to the questions and think through your reply before responding

• If you don´t understand the question, ask for it to be repeated, then take your time and don´t panic!

• Before speaking, consider: “Is what I am about to say relevant and will it demonstrate my suitability for the role”

• Support what you say with a specific example

• Choose a topic that is easy to explain and easy for the interviewer to grasp

• Take the time to set the scene – we often assume that because we know what we are trying to communicate, the person we are speaking to understands the message. This is not always the case

Related:  How to Promote Yourself in a Job Interview [INFOGRAPHIC]

• Provide a balanced answer (a) a beginning   …. the background situation, (b) what you actually did  and (c) always end with a positive outcome

• Pause, measure your words, be concise, avoid repetition, don´t be negative

• Keep light and bright – present a confident, relaxed demeanour

• Always end on a positive note – you are paid for bottom-line result and this is what recruiters notice and remember during and after the interview

Questions to ask

At the end of the interview demonstrate your interest and confidence by asking them questions about the job you will be asking once appointed; for example: what systems do you use, how do you measure performance, what future challenges does the company face, are there any current issues to be resolved, etc etc.  Asking questions now might save finding out you are in the wrong job later!

Here is a sample an Interviewer might pose for CONCEPTUAL THINKING

The following question seeks to identify the degree to which a job applicant can recognise an opportunity and use initiative to improve business performance by identifying the key issues and recommending proposals

Question: Describe a situation where you were able to identify and suggest a solution to a problem.  What was the problem? What did you suggest?  Describe your thinking processes.  What was the outcome?

Sample interview answer

“When I joined the company I did some competitor research and noticed that the other businesses were winning clients by using a telesales strategy, whereas this company relied on online applications.  We were the only business in the market not using a telesales approach to generate business

“I suggested we trial telesales approach as competitors appeared to be doing well.  I presented a proposal to my directors which involved paying for 200 leads on people with debt problems – at a cost of £2,000.  I did a cost-benefit analysis which indicated that if just one lead turned into a case we would achieve a good ROI (return on investment)

“We are currently implementing the telesales strategy and although it is early days the indications are that we will exceed profit forecasts”

Feedback on interview answer

This answer to the question was excellent as it demonstrated the candidate´s drive, initiative and commercial awareness.  It is clear to see that a future employer would be lucky to have this person on their team!

Related:  Top 10 Things to Take to a Job Interview [INFOGRAPHIC]

So how else can we ensure your success?

With 1-to-1 Advice

A Perfect CV offers a 1-to-1 interview consultancy individually tailored to you, your career aspirations and the job you want.

Although interviewing is something of an art form, it is definitely one that can be learned or improved quite quickly.  Your consultant is highly trained to stimulate your awareness of the skills and capabilities required, advise you how to think strategically and improve your all-round presentation.

With your personal consultant, you will fine-tune the skills necessary to build a rapport with interviewers and demonstrate your ability and confidence through innovative communication techniques.

We will help you prepare:

  • think ahead to anticipate the information interviewers require
  • take control of your nerves and convey a confident manner
  • adapt your tone and emphasis to convey a different meaning
  • build into the conversation examples of your competencies and achievements
  • provide a compelling insight into your skills and how you add value
  • use positive phraseology which places you in charge
  • handle the trickiest questions with confidence and polish
  • build rapport by using the power of your voice to add impact and be influential
  • communicate effectively and present your ideas for maximum effect
  • address any weak areas in your background without jeopardising your success

Visual presentation

Words are just part of the process.  Your consultant will advise you of unintentional messages you might send by your visual presentation, expression, body language, attitude, the warmth of manner and level of receptivity. You will learn how to overcome nerves by looking and feeling confident and ensure you leave a really positive impression

What format does the interview consultation take?

  • Your consultant will review your CV and the job, and brainstorm with you the personality characteristics and specific key competencies required
  • The consultation comprises a mock question and answers interview
  • There will be plenty of opportunities for you to talk through any concerns you may have about the interview (for instance, questions or issues you anticipate having difficulty with)
  • Guidance and support with answering interview questions in the best way will be provided throughout the consultation
  • Immediately following the session, your consultant will produce and email to you a detailed written report – constructive feedback on your performance
  • The report will highlight the positive aspect of your interview, together with         recommendations on how to improve your presentation, ensure you send out the right messages and show your creative and original character
  • A follow-up interview consultation will be scheduled to discuss the outcome of your interview, and define and summarise areas for future development.

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