The Employment Interview
Interview as a Two-Way Process
The objectives of the interview are for each party to extract, provide and evaluate information. You will be responding to questions, but also asking your own. You will be assessing opportunities and being assessed on the benefits you offer.
Your performance at interview will be enhanced through effective preparation, for every interview. Preparation should include:
- Researching the organisation – industry, services/products, locations, size, customers, stated values/culture, turnover, competitors, articles.
- As much information as available regarding the specific opportunity
- Consideration of likely questions and planning of appropriate responses
- Establishing the person or people with whom you will be meeting, their positions within the organisation, the key decision maker and the anticipated interview process.
- Consideration of appropriate dress standard.
- Allowing time, both prior to and following the meeting
Suggestions to take with you
- Details of the company name, address, phone number and interviewer’s name
- Additional copies of your CV
- A list of your referees, with their contact details
- Your academic record, including evidence of qualification(s) and transcript
- Passport/visa if not a NZ resident
- Check your appearance
- Establish a rapport with the receptionist (if applicable) – he/she might be asked for their impression of you!
- Review your preparation in your mind, focussing on the company, the position, your achievements and the value you offer
Interview Styles and Formats
Some of the interview styles you might encounter include -
Each candidate is asked the same set of core questions, with the objective of providing equal opportunity for each applicant to present their abilities in response to the questions asked.
This is a more casual format, possibly allowing the candidate more opportunity to influence the direction of the conversation. Concentrate on the areas in which you can add value to the business. Allow your personality to shine through, but avoid the temptation of becoming too relaxed. It remains an interview situation.
Often used in public sector organisations or larger organisations, including representatives from different areas of responsibility – perhaps line manager, human resources manager, finance manager.
Competency-Based Behavioural Interviews
Behavioural questions are used to compare candidates’ capabilities against the specified core requirements of a particular position.
Be prepared to describe your achievements, selecting the most appropriate example in response to the question asked. Remember to concisely describe the circumstance, the action that you personally took, the result of that action and the subsequent benefit to the customer, team or organisation.
Presentation or Role Play Interview
As part of the interview process, you may be asked to make a presentation or to role play a specific situation.
Ensure you are clear on the parameters of the presentation, including the subject and the audience. In a role play, seek clarity as to the situation and try to visualise a similar situation from your previous experience.
The Assessment Centre approach involves several candidates at a time.
Consider the likely competencies being assessed and the type of exercises which may be used. Be yourself, engage cooperatively with others in the group, draw on relevant past experience and try to contribute creative ideas to the problem or situation. Asking for feedback at the conclusion of the assessment will provide you with information as to how you were perceived, as well as indicating your interest in the process.
General Questions you may encounter
There is a diverse range of questions which might be put to you in any interview situation, dependent upon the interview style, level of interviewer’s experience/preparation and the type of role for which you are being interviewed.
Be flexible in your responses, rather than giving rote answers. By being prepared with information about the organisation and the position before the interview, you will be in a stronger position to adapt your replies and examples, to reflect the best possible match of capabilities to requirements, thus impressing as a strong candidate.
General Question Examples
- Tell me about yourself
- What do you already know about our business and/or our products? Have you had any previous experiences with our company?
- What attracted you about this opportunity?
- Can you highlight the aspects of your previous employment experience which you consider most relevant in relation to this role?
- What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?
- Do you have any other applications currently under consideration? How do you feel about this role, in comparison with others for which you have applied?
- What is your remuneration expectation?
Behavioural Interview Question Examples
- Can you tell me about a time when you worked outside your own area of responsibility, to support a colleague or a team objective?
- What are your procedures for ensuring accuracy in your work? Are there any specific procedures you have put in place to manage complex details of an assignment or project?
- What part do you play in resolving specific customer problems? Can you provide an example of a particularly challenging issue?
- Tell me about a situation where you contributed significantly to improved communication and understanding within a business relationship.
- Have you had an occasion to address the performance of an under-achieving team member? Tell me about your approach.
Tips for Interview Success
In ensuring that you position yourself ahead of competitors, strategies for success include –
- Consider first impressions – be on time, be prepared, be dressed appropriately
- Remember the importance of body language – posture, expression and handshake all contribute to an early impression
- Confirm the reasons for your interest in the position. Display enthusiasm
- Demonstrate your knowledge of the organisation
- Take time to consider your answers to specific questions
- Provide clear, concise and relevant examples, highlighting your achievements
- Listen for opportunities to directly respond to stated ‘needs’
- Remember that the quality of the questions you ask will reflect your commitment, initiative and intelligence
- Ensure you have sufficient information for an effective evaluation of the opportunity
- Reconfirm your commitment to progressing
- Advise your availability and confirm the anticipated time frame for next contact
- Ask for a business card, or ensure you have relevant contact information
- Close the meeting with a positive, optimistic and appreciative acknowledgement
Computer Skills Assessments
When scheduling interviews with consultants, it is recommended that you ask whether skills tests will be required and how much time you need to allow.
The recruitment process for certain roles may include a requirement for psychometric assessments, which could incorporate personality profile questionnaires and/or abilities assessments. The resulting profile will be used to support the selection process, assessing personality characteristics against specified competencies, to gain an indicator as to potential success in the role under consideration.
Post Interview Reflection
From the information available to you, consider:
- Do my values align with the ‘culture’ of this organisation?
- Is it the type of working environment I had visualised for myself?
- Would this role potentially allow me to progress on my chosen career path?
- Does it present alternative opportunities which I had not previously considered?
- Will I be involved in the type of work I enjoy?
- Would I have the opportunity to apply my skills of choice?
- Will organisational expectations allow time for the other things which are important to me and my family?
- How does this role compare with others I have considered?
- Am I feeling really excited and stimulated at this prospect of working for this organisation?
- How will I respond if I am invited to progress to the next stage, or an offer is put to me?