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How to prepare and approach an interview

 
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How to prepare and approach an interview
by Fairfield Connect Admin - Friday, 19 June 2020, 4:40 PM
 

Welcome to the 3rd Blog from the FSB Employability team: 

How to prepare and approach an interview 

Where to begin 

An interview is the key step towards your future job, it gets you a foot in the door and it is your chance to sell yourself and prove to the organisation what you are capable of.

For your best chances of success, you should take the time to prepare thoroughly to perform as best as you can.

Checklist

Research the organization.

Employers will expect you to know background information on their organization, so be ready.  Spend time researching information about the company, this can be done by checking their website or social media platforms i.e. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn   etc.

Find out the organization’s background, reputation, primary population they serve, their mission/vision statement etc.


Understand the position. 

Read the job description carefully and try to find examples that show you have the necessary skills.  

If you have not been given a position description, request one from the organization. What specific qualifications are they seeking? What particular strengths are they looking for in a prospective employee.


Know what you have to offer. 

Employers desire employees who are self-aware and able to communicate clearly about what they have to offer. After reflecting on your diverse experiences, what have you learned and how does this relate to the position for which you’re applying? Write down specific examples that would illustrate your match to the job description. Study your resume and be prepared to articulate the transferability of all experiences listed. Remember, many experiences could serve as a good example for multiple questions, so be prepared to think about your experiences from different vantage points. So think about likely questions and prepare your answers.

 

During the Interview

 First impressions – It is said that it takes up to 30 seconds for somebody to form a first impression.  Here's how to make a good first impression

·         Direct and sustained eye contact, a firm handshake, a warm smile, good posture, and introducing yourself in a confident manner are very important.

·         Pay attention to your dress code; make sure your appearance is clean, smart and business-like, even if the company has a dress down policy

·         Avoid criticising former employers or colleagues as this will reflect badly on you. (even if you left your last job because you fell out with the boss!) Do not interrupt or argue and avoid looking down

·         Be relaxed, but keep your back straight and SMILE, keep eye contact with the interviewer (but don’t stare them out!) Avoid fidgeting, playing with a pen or hair. Listen carefully and show interest. 

 

Additional tips

• Think about three or four key points that you want to make about your personal characteristics, skills you have learnt, and relevant experiences that demonstrate that you could perform the job well.

• Find specific, rather than general, examples from your experience that illustrate important points about yourself.

 • Focus on presenting a positive, enthusiastic tone.

• If you are asked to describe a weakness, mention lessons learnt, and steer away from negative descriptions.

 • When answering questions, focus on experiences that demonstrate flexibility, adaptability, responsibility, progress, achievement, creativity, initiative, and leadership

 

Frequently asked questions at interview 

The main part of any interview and of greatest importance is answers you are going to give to the questions you will be asked. You should try to think about the more difficult questions that may arise, but do not worry too much about them as about 85% of the questions are predictable.  

Preparation will give you confidence and decrease the chances of being taken by surprise by something you have not thought about.  If you need a moment to think about what you are about to say, you can state “That is a very interesting question. Could you give more information about…” 

 

The STAR technique is a very useful tool that you should keep in mind when answering questions: 

Situation: describe the situation that you were in or task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe an actual situation you took part in, not a generalized description. Be sure to give enough details to make the situation understandable and clear. It can be from your previous job, a volunteering job or any other relevant event. 

Task: What goal were you working towards? 

Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail and keep the focus on you. What specific steps did you take and what was your particular contribution?  

Result: Describe the outcome of your actions and don´t be shy about taking credit for your behaviour but try not to lie or exaggerate either. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Make sure your answers contain multiple positive results and reflects how you used skills that are transferable. 

 

Finally, here are some of the most frequently asked questions and how you can shape your answers   

Tell me more about yourself. 

The interviewer has already read your CV, so you should emphasize those skills and abilities that are required for the job at hand and bring something new that may be relevant. You might be asked to clarify or give more information about something you mentioned in your CV. 

 

What do you know about the organisation?  

Use the knowledge you gathered while browsing internet. If you have any questions, it is better to leave them for the end. 

 

Why do you want to work for us?

Here is your chance to show what motivates you and what you find attractive in the position. Show interest and commitment. 

 

What are your strengths?  

Emphasize your qualities, don´t be afraid to talk about your achievements, but do not exaggerate the truth. Also, connect your answer to the qualities mentioned in the job advert. 

 

What are your weaknesses?  

Present your weak points and explain how you try to overcome these. 

 

Why is there a gap in your work history? 

A tricky question. Be honest here. It might be you tool a career break to support family, or you had a period of unemployment.  Don’t be thrown by this question, make sure you are clear that you didn’t waste this time. While you were busy perhaps you were able to think about the direction you wanted for your career, or maybe you undertook some personal/professional development. Be brave and tell the interviewer what you learnt about yourself during this time. 

 

Sample Questions to Ask an Employer

· What would it take to exceed your expectations for this position?

· Can you tell me how the different departments within the company work together?

· How are performance reviews conducted?

 · What would you expect me to accomplish in the first 60-90 days?

· What kind of opportunities exist for me to improve my professional skills within the organization?

· What are some recent challenges and opportunities faced by your organization?

· Can you tell me the next steps in the selection process?

· Could you describe your company’s management style and the type of employee who fits well with it?

 · Do not ask about salary, benefits, vacation time, etc. during the first interview

All good things take time! Best of luck! And remember we are here if you need us. 


After the Interview

 

Attending interviews should not be the end of it all, there are still few steps to take to follow-up.

Contact your references to let them know how it went and to potentially expect to hear from the company. If the employer indicated that they would contact you by a specific date and they have not, contact them. It is reasonable to follow up after a week or two following your interview. This demonstrates your interest. And be sure to complete any follow up request from the employer.

 

While you Wait

While you are waiting to hear from the employer after interview, you should be doing the following:

 

·         Research salary of same position in the geographical area and prepare your salary negotiation points

·         Is there a second or third interview in place? If so, start preparing

·         Maintain an active job search. Don’t wait to hear from each employer.

 

Please contact us: 

If you have any further queries, don’t hesitate to contact our team. Despite the lockdown, we as a team are working hard to offer our services to you virtually. 

 

Work Placement, Employability and Careers Team 

work.placement@fsb.ac 

 

Dr Wendy Wigley: Head of Student Support and Enhancement–  wendy.wigley@lsst.ac 

Larry Oseni: Student Support/ Work Placement. Employability and Careers Officer Croydon -  Larry.oseni@fairfield.ac

Digbeth -    Saravjit.singh@fairfield.ac 

(Edited by Fahim Hasan - original submission Friday, 19 June 2020, 4:40 PM)