Interview Tips

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General Pointers

Think about your body language - you should aim to impress immediately, make eye contact, smile and shake hands firmly. Throughout the interview maintain good eye contact, be enthusiastic and open in your body language and remember to smile. If there is more than one interviewer present make sure that you look at & engage all of them even if only one is asking questions.

Compose yourself - do not interrupt questions, think first about what the interviewer has asked and take time before you answer. Clients prefer to hear a well-thought out answer after a pause rather than the first thing that comes into a candidate’s head.

Answer concisely - while you should not answer questions with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, clients will not want to hear you ‘waffle’. You should give examples wherever possible, keeping these succinct and to the point. When answering questions your responses should be S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time specific.

Give examples - simply saying you have that experience isn’t enough; think about strong examples that you can talk the interviewer through to back up your point. This should relate directly back to your CV experience.

Be honest - if you don’t know the answer to something, simply state that you are unsure, rather than guessing. You can say how you would find out the answer or what you would do to gain the skills you are lacking.

Enthusiasm - showing desire and enthusiasm for the role and organisation in a constructive manner will put you above your competitors. After all, you will be up against your peers for the role.

The interviewer(s) - Different interviewers have different styles. It is important that you adapt your interview style to reflect theirs and meet the demands of your meeting. So for example, if the interviewer is formal then you should be too. Beware of very informal situation though- don’t get lulled into saying something inappropriate.

Ask questions - show that you have thought about the role, the organisation and how it fits with what you are looking for.

Interview Questions

While we can never predict the questions that an employer will ask, below are some questions to give you an idea of what you should be prepared to answer.

  • What attracted you to this role?
  • What do you want to be doing career wise in 2 or 5 years time?
  • What do you see as your major strengths?
  • What are your main weaknesses or areas for further development?
  • What 3 words would your friends use to describe you?
  • How will your experience help you in this role?
  • Do you work best in a team or as an individual?
  • How would you establish a relationship with the Finance team and other departments?
  • What challenges would you expect to face coming into this role?
  • Examples of how you have added value to the business?
  • What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Your consultant will be able to discuss competency based interviews with you in more detail, give you advice on the sorts of questions you should expect and how to deal with them.

Competency Based Questions

Competency based questions are designed to test one or more specific skills and evaluate a candidate’s competence. They differ from conventional job questions that focus on a candidate’s previous experience.

Typically you will be assessed and scored on a predetermined scale based on your answers and all candidates will be asked the same questions.

Competency based questions can cover a wide range of skills depending on the sector, industry and level of the role you are applying for. Usually they will ask you to give situational examples of times in the past when you have performed particular tasks or achieved particular outcomes using certain skills.

Some examples of the types of questions that may be asked are below:

  • Tell us about the biggest change that you have had to deal with. How did you cope with it?
  • Describe a situation where you had to explain something complex to a colleague or a client. Which problems did you encounter and how did you deal with them?
  • Tell us about a project or situation where you felt that the conventional approach would not be suitable. How did you derive and manage a new approach? Which challenges did you face and how did you address them?
  • Describe a situation where one of your projects suffered a setback due to an unexpected change in circumstances and what you did.
  • Describe a situation where you were asked to do something that you had never attempted previously.
  • Describe a project where you needed to involve input from other departments. How did you identify that need and how did you ensure buy-in from the appropriate leaders and managers?
  • Give us an example of a situation where you knew that a project or task would place you under great pressure. How did you plan your approach and remain motivated?
  • Under what conditions do you work best and worst?
  • What is the biggest challenge that you have faced in your career. How did you overcome it?

Your consultant will be able to discuss competency based interviews with you in more detail and give you advice on the sorts of questions you may be able to expect and how to deal with them.