How to ace that next interview


Research

Research is critical to performing well in the interview.  Review company and industry websites, articles and annual reports and make sure you have a good understanding of the organisation’s products, services, location(s), size, financial situation and growth potential.  Speak to as many people who work for the organization as you can to get a real world view of the company (sort facts from individual opinions).  LinkedIn can be a good place to research the interview panel.

To get the edge over other candidates, aim to understand the needs of the interviewers and show how your experience and skills will help solve their problems.


Shaping their perception

Know when your interview starts – the interview begins the moment you have any interaction with anyone from the organization.  It is very difficult to change the first impression a person has of you so manage this process well.

You are making an impression:

  • when you speak with the interviewer or Human Resources Manager on the phone,

  • when they view your social media profile or other online content,

  • as soon as you are in view when attending a face to face interview, and

  • when you begin speaking and answering interview questions

Make sure your elevator pitch is polished and that you present professionally, at all times considering how you are demonstrating your ‘fit’ for the team and organization.

Prepare and practice responses to some of the most common interview questions as well as being able to discuss examples of your work in the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) format.


Common Questions

Expect the unexpected and prepare responses to commonly asked interview questions as well as behavioural questions (also commonly known as competency based interviews). 

Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself?

With your response, use an extended version of your elevator pitch, focusing their attention on the aspects of your skills and experience that are most relevant and overlap with what they are looking for.  By undertaking research prior to the interview you will be able to respond to this questions in such a way as to demonstrate how you will be able to solve their problems.  Discuss your unique selling points. 60 – 90 seconds is a rough estimate of the length of time to be speaking.


What are your strengths?

You will have many strengths that you could choose to talk about here.  Pick the three that are most relevant for the role and discuss these, providing a very brief example where possible.


What are your areas of development?

The aim of this question is to understand:

  1. Is there anything they should know about you that is a red flag?

  2. Do you take the time to self reflect? And, if yes:

  3. What steps do you take to improve on your areas of development?

So consequently the format to answer this question should cover all the above, ie.

  1. Choose something to talk about that will not raise any red flags (ie something that is not a core requirement of the role)

  2. Talk about it in the past tense,

  3. Discuss what steps you’ve taken to improve in that area, and

Round out your response with the result.


Why are you leaving or have left your job?

Share your transition reason and make sure it’s positive, putting your best foot forward.


What led you to apply for this role?

Ideas on how to answer this include, discussing how the role overlaps with your career plans and values, or how the role will allow you to utilize your strengths.  Discuss how you feel your skills and experience can make a difference and how you feel it will be a good fit for you.


What are your short and long term career plans?

The interview wants to make sure you understand where you want to see yourself in the future so that you won’t move on to another job / company in the short term.  Hiring you is an investment. Connect your goals to the role you are interviewing for, demonstrating how it overlaps with your future plans and avoid discussing anything that could raise a red flag.


Why should we hire you?

What they are really asking is, ‘what makes you the best fit for this position?’.  Show that you have done your research, prepared and listened during the interview and deliver a sales pitch that shows how you meet exactly what they are looking for.  Keep it concise, be confident and clearly demonstrate how you meet all of the requirements of the role (and if possible, more!).

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© Isabella Villani 

    Australia