27 Aug 2014

Preparing for an interview

27 Aug 2014

Interviews can take many forms, from a casual chat to a structured interview panel. Whatever the case, you will perform best if you’re prepared. There are many ‘typical’ interview questions that it would be worth considering your responses to in advance, rather than just ‘winging it’ on the day.

These may well include:

“Tell me a little about yourself?”

“What are your strengths?”

“What are your weaknesses?”

“Why should I hire you?”

“What has been your greatest achievement?”

“Why do you want to leave your current job?”

“What salary are you seeking?”

More experienced interviewers may employ a method called Competency or Behavioural Based Interviewing. These questions are designed to uncover desired skills and behaviours (‘competencies’), and require you to give examples of experiences from your past.

To prepare for this kind of interview, you need to review the job description and identify the skills and traits most likely to be assessed. Then decide upon the experiences you want to refer to in the interview to demonstrate your appropriateness.

The key to answering these questions is to be as specific as possible. Well structured answers are powerful and will win you the interview. The STAR model will provide a good structure for your answers:

(S) Situation – describe the situation
(T) Task – describe the task the situation required (or your ideas for resolving the problem)
(A) Action – describe the action you took, and any obstacles you overcame
(R) Result – describe the outcomes you achieved

Sample questions include:

“Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to achieve it.”

“Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful work experience that demonstrated your coping skills.”

“Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.”

“Tell me about a time when you were able to successfully deal with another person when that person may not have personally liked you or vice versa.”

The key is to bring your experience to life. Even if a company isn’t using the STAR system, if you use the STAR model to explain your experience with examples, the outcome will be a sucessful interview.

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