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How to play the interview game
How to play the interview game
Sadly, it is a fact of life that having the right range of technical skills, as outlined in your CV, is not sufficient in itself to ensure success at interview.
At IDEX, we cannot stress enough that this is the key to interview success.
As an absolute minimum you need to:
- Read the job description carefully and take notes.
- Read the version of your CV that has been submitted carefully and take a mental note of key experiences that match the Job Description.
- Establish the correct location and how to get there.
- Study company brochures/literature and/or website.
Where possible you should:
- Look at recent independent company news; for this, we recommend www.ft.com or www.telegraph.co.uk.
- Identify exactly whom you are meeting, their position in the company and the recruitment process.
- Know something of the company's history.
- Who are their competitors?
- Understand the company's products and services.
- Revenues and profitability?
Most companies incorporate some form of Competency Based Interviewing Technique. This is designed to give a systematic, structured and goal-oriented selection interviewing technique to facilitate well-informed, reliable and accurate hiring decisions. What you will get, in effect, is an interview where there is an "even playing field" since the interviewer will be focused on the same set of competencies for each applicant.
TIP: Read the job description again to establish the competencies required. From this, you can deduce what questions are likely to come up.
Answering interview questions
Not all interviews will be formulaic, however. They can vary tremendously, from very informal to formal.
However, some questions can be anticipated, as can the subject matter. If you are well prepared, as mentioned above, then the majority of questions will not cause you a problem.
Example interview questions:
- What are your career aspirations?
- Why do you want to work for our company?
- What interests you about our product/service?
- Of your previous jobs, which did you enjoy most and why?
- How have you managed conflict in the past?
- Describe what you have done in your career that shows your initiative.
- What are your weaknesses? Your strengths?
- What does teamwork mean to you?
- What style of management gets the best results from you?
- What have been your major achievements to date?
A few general rules
- Ensure your shoes are polished, you look professional and you have had the chance to freshen up. (Men – still wear a tie for interviews, the casual look is too risky.)
- Speak up when answering questions.
- Answer briefly, but try to avoid "yes" or "no" answers unless it is required.
- Don't worry about pausing before you answer, it shows you can think and are not delivering rehearsed answers and sound bites.
- Don't embellish or try to waffle through answers. It is always better to admit you don't know the answer to something. If your mind has simply gone blank, come back to the subject. Be prepared for hypothetical situation questions and take your time on these.
- Be prepared for the unexpected question designed to see how you cope in less predictable circumstances.
- If you ask questions, keep them brief during the interview. Remember, you're the interviewee. At the end of the interview, ask your questions in an open manner, i.e., questions which cannot be answered yes or no. E.g., How? Who? What? When and Why?
TIP: Thank the interviewers for their time and try to leave quickly and calmly. Remember to smile no matter how you feel the interview went. If you are interested in the opportunity, make sure you leave them with that impression - without going overboard and sounding desperate!
- Give a firm handshake and good eye contact.
- Bring spare copies of your CV in case they are needed.
- Accept a drink - water is best. Even the most confident interviewee gets thirsty. Moreover, it establishes time for rapport and gives you more time to settle down.
- Ask for permission to take notes if you want to. This can show genuine interest and good technique - although be sure they are only for "key words" to refer to when you want to ask questions later.
- Ask good, relevant questions. These questions can be prepared in advance, but be sure that you do not repeat subjects already covered.
- Try to smile occasionally, as you would if you were in any other kind of meeting. Interviews are not firing squads.
- Mirror - if you know what this is, don't do it. Most interviewers will be aware of a deliberate use of it - it is very irritating and distracting.
- Fidget and fiddle or play with your hair or jewellery.
- Use your question time to ask about pay and benefits.
- Take verbatim or copious notes; you're there to listen!
- Stare, but at the same time, try to avoid looking down when answering questions.