Winning Interview Tips

How to succeed at Interview - strategies in tune with the times

††††††††† "When we read his CV we were impressed.†When we met face-to-face we††

†††††††††† knew we'd have to interview more people," said Vicky of PerfectCareers.

So what exactly went wrong?

As it turned out, what the candidate gained in qualifications he lost in appearance, attitude, charisma - his personality characteristics†did not 'fit'†the†company's culture.

Whether you are looking to change jobs or to progress within your own organisation,†the following tips will†ensure you project a professional image

Research

1st impressions

Be professional

Keep your cool

Common mistakes

The recruiter's role

Differentiate yourself

Highlight your achievements

Preparing answers & questions

Finally, questions for you to ask


Research

So you've had the call and it's time to prepare for the interview. A good next step would be to research the company in detail, especially as you might well be asked 'Why do you want to work here?'

Find out all you can about the company's products, market, size and how they operate. Sources of information include websites, the stock exchange and annual and quarterly reports for public companies.

Visit or call the company and ask for their corporate brochure or product literature. Other sources of information include libraries, business magazines, trade associations and publications.

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First impressions

How you are first perceived by recruiters is crucially important as generally it is this first impression that tends to last. To create a favourable impression in this competitive world it helps to walk with confidence, shake hands firmly, make eye contact and smile.

Your presentation in terms of dress and grooming, how you carry yourself is critical. It is essential that your appearance is right for the job.

To avoid faux pas ...

  • Dress conservatively - keep to plain, classic and up-to-date fashionwear; suits look best in grey and blue shades with smart white or colour toned shirt; ties for men
  • Style - keep in line with the business environment; for a professional-like look, keep hemlines to either slightly above or just below knee-length - and check rear view
  • Jewellery - keep to a minimum and avoid face or body jewellery
  • Bare legs - neutral coloured stockings look smart, even in hot weather
  • Hair and nails - smartly styled and tidy; long talons and unkempt nails can be an absolute turnoff
  • Cologne - a definite plus but best applied sparingly

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Be professional

Engage - talk with the interviewer about the issues they're facing - and, importantly, how you would like to contribute solutions. In this way you're starting to build bridges and develop relationships even before you're inside

Demonstrate your interest in the position and enthusiasm for joining the company by asking probing questions about the company's goals, market, objectives, career path and so on ...

Weave into the language your approach, attitude and abilities.

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Common mistakes

Recruiter's often cite the following as reasons for rejecting candidates :

  • No confidence - Nervous and fidgety
  • Self-concern - Too much focus on money
  • Self conceit - Over-emphasises achievements
  • Communication - Unable to express information clearly
  • Thoughtless - Inappropriate responses to questions
  • Self important - Unwillingness to start at the bottom
  • No ambition - Absence of career plans or goals
  • Motivation - Lack of enthusiasm for the company or job
  • Etiquette - Little appreciation for other people's time
  • Presentation - Slipshod CV, resume and cover letter

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Keep cool

If asked about a difficult part of your past career, don't make unkind remarks about previous employers. Leave past grievances behind.

Take a fresh, positive step forward and only focus on your accomplishments when talking about your past career

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The interviewer's role

Compared to a few years ago, the marketplace today is far more fast-paced, cut-throat and complex.

Recruiters operate in a fiercely competitive market and are under increasing pressures to select the right candidate, at the right time and at the right price. Mistakes are costly in terms of jobs, client relationships and future contract renewals.

As a consequence, recruiters need to seek firm evidence of an applicant's capabilities and razor-sharp questions form a crucial part of the interviewing, screening and selection process.

The interviewer will need to know what sort of person you are in terms of your values, aspirations, goals and attitudes. Further, it will be important to identify what drives, motivates or de-motivates you, and which work environment, organisational culture and structure suits your style.

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Differentiate yourself

It's no longer sufficient to just talk about, say, your management skills; to differentiate yourself from the rest provide real-life examples of problems you've encountered, solutions implemented and positive outcomes.

Here a well written, achievement-orientated CV / resume should prove invaluable as you would be able to draw on the accomplishments listed, the problems you have overcome, issues you have addressed, and where your action has resolved problems.

It is not essential to focus on work-related achievements. Recent graduates can draw on work placements or project work as a student. Other life areas - sport, voluntary work and social activities - can be used to convey a wide range of valuable skills.

By being honest, factual and succinctly explicit you will engage the interviewer's interest so that he gains a clear insight into your key competencies, and considers you the ideal person for the job.

Use positive terminology and provide examples ...

  • My role requires the ability to reprioritise activities in line with changing demands, and I do whatever it takes to get the job done, even if this means working late to meet new argets; for example..
  • I enjoy the challenge of solving problems and when I have gained a great deal of job satisfaction when I have improved performance; for example ..
  • I especially like the client-service aspect of my role and the relationships I have built have contributed to contract renewals; for instance ..

For examples of questions that address key competencies

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Highlight your achievements

Recruiters are seeking problem solvers, which is why highlighting your past successes is important part of making a good impression

Questions might seek to identify your initiative, resourcefulness, determination, persuasiveness and forward-thinking, progressive 'can do' approach.

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Preparing answers and questions

It will not be possible for you to prepare for, or know what questions you will be asked. However, most questions tend to centre around common themes. Here are some of the most popular questions asked by interviewers

What is your major achievement?

What do you consider yourself good at doing?

How would you approach this job?

How do you get things done?

How would you decide on your objectives?

How do you manage your day?

What motivates you?

What contribution do you make to a team?

How do you react if you find that someone you work with does not like you?

Describe your worst work environment?

Tell me about a time when you successfully handled a difficult situation?

Tell me about a time when you felt that you dealt with a situation inadequately, and how has that changed how you would approach the same situation?

What decisions do you find difficult to make?

On taking this job, what would be your major contribution?

How do you get the best out of people?

Can you provide a recent example of when you were under stress, and how you coped?

In your view, what are the major problems/opportunities facing the legal industry?

As an exercise it is well worth writing out answers for each question rather than just think them through. There is a real difference between knowing what you want to say and being able to deliver a satisfactory answer despite the anxiety of the interview.

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Finally, questions for you to ask

The interview should be a two-way process, an opportunity for all parties to find the information necessary to make the right decisions

Whilst being careful to listen and respond to and not interrupt the interviewer's questions, it's important that you communicate your interest in the position by asking questions.

It is important that you find what is critical to the role, exactly what is involved, what the main responsibilities will be and the major tasks.

Your questions might include:

  • What are the key requirements for the position?
  • What is the most pressing, and what would you like to see done in the short/medium term?
  • Will the goals be clearly defined? How does this occur?

Your questions convey interest and can be made either during the course of the interview or at the end. Asking questions provides the interviewer with important feedback about your understanding of and interest in the role.

If you're serious about planning a career move,

if you want to enhance your job prospects†at interview,

why not consider A Perfect Career's Interview Consultancy.

Send an email and a Consultant will contact you to discuss your requirements

A Perfect Career©†All Rights Reserved

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