Interview Preparation

Before the interview:

  • Research the organisation and the role so you have a clear understanding of the position.
  • Be clear on why you want the job and why you are attracted to the organisation.
  • An interview is a two way process and is an opportunity for both you and the employer to discover what each of you need, value and have to offer will
  • match. As an exercise to prepare, you may like to list what you think the organisations needs, values and offerings may be and then in a separate column, list the same things for yourself. This will help you to frame your answers to include these key understandings.
  • Review your CV, written application and the position description again, it is important to know these documents inside out.
  • Review the Selection Criteria and what you submitted with your application. Ensure you are familiar with the examples provided in your application and have other examples to provide. Think of your best examples to support your claims for the role. Choose ones that demonstrate the range of selection criteria; for example a project you worked on that can demonstrate achieving results, strategic thinking, cultivating productive working relationships, communicating with influence, exemplifies personal drive and integrity. That way, whatever criteria the panel is questioning around, any of your examples should suit.
  • When reviewing your examples, think of the STAR approach. The Situation in were involved in, what the Task was that you were required to do, what
  • Actions you undertook and the Result you achieved. Remember the employer is looking for your examples and in particular what outcomes you achieved so it is important to use the word “I” when answering these questions i.e. not “we”.
  • Practice your answers with a friend or colleague.
  • Confirm the interview details. Know where you need to go and who you are meeting. Give yourself plenty of time, even just to find a car park. Rushing doesn’t help to calm the nerves.
  • You should wear appropriate professional clothing for the role and organisation. The first few moments are critical; greet them with a smile, maintain eye contact, shake their hand firmly and remember their name(s).

During the interview:

Convey confidence and genuine enthusiasm when answering each question and remember you are there to tell your story; this should help in trying to suppress your nerves.

  • Consider your body language (head up, shoulders straight, eye contact). Leave no doubt as to your level of interest in the position.
  • Make an impact – engage with the panel in a positive way. Try not to second guess what the panel are thinking and instead focus on articulating what you have to offer in positive language.
  • Again, when discussing your experience, remember the STAR approach. You want to be the biggest STAR the panel is interviewing that day. Remember to talk about your personal involvement and results – not the teams or the organisation’s contribution – but rather “What did I do to support this project?”
  • At interviews the panel will be wanting to confirm The Three C’s:
  1. Competency – Can you do the job? Do you have the skills required?
  2. Commitment – are you willing to do what is required in the role? Do you have the energy and drive to deliver? Are you interested and able to invest time in the role and with the organisation?
  3. Compatibility – Will you fit in with the team and the organisational culture? What is your leadership and management style? Do you share the same values as the organisation?
  • Tell your story – don’t be afraid to be yourself – otherwise how can either of you determine if you are completely compatible for the role and organisation?
    Have a few meaningful and constructive questions to ask the interviewers about the role or the organisation.

Types of interview questions

Opening questions

  • Tell us about yourself
  • Outline your experience for us
  • What has attracted you to this role?

Keep your responses relevant to the position. To answer a question regarding your strengths, focus on your strengths relevant to the position and indicate how you might use them in the role. Refer to your resume and selection criteria if this will assist you.

Hypothetical questions

What would you do in a situation where you had competing deadlines?

These questions are generally asked to test your problem-solving ability and your skill to think on your feet. Try and give a considered response, drawing on your past experience. There is generally no “right” answer, but does present an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to think through a problem.

Behavioural questions

Tell us about a time when you had to use your influencing skills to persuade others to consider an alternative solution to a problem?

Most interviews are based on the behavioural or competence based interview technique; where questions are asked on the premise that past behaviour is a good indication of future behaviour.

Some common examples are achieving results, teamwork, communication, problem solving, leadership, strategic thinking, initiative, independence, flexibility, acting with integrity and team management skills.

Common interview questions

  • Tell us about yourself
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Please tell us your key strengths that make you an exceptional candidate for this role?
  • What would you say differentiates you the most from the other applicants we have interviewed for the role?
  • Which areas would you need to develop further to be effective in this position?
  • Can you give me an example of a time when you showed initiative?
  • Can you tell us about a major decision you made recently referring especially to the process you followed and the methodology you used to reach your conclusions?
  • Tell me about a time when you showed determination and tenacity in order to achieve a successful result.
  • Tell me about a time when you were particularly successful in reaching your goals.
  • How would your peers or last manager describe you?
  • Can you tell us about a situation or project which wasn’t successful? What was your involvement and what did you learn from it?
  • Can you tell me about a situation when you had to work to an extremely tight deadline. What was involved and what was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a time when your communication skills played a key role in achieving a successful outcome. What was involved and what part did you play?
  • Describe your team work skills and give an example of when these have worked well.
  • Do you have any questions for us?

Suggestions of Questions You Can Ask at Interview

  • Why is the position open?
  • What are the main responsibilities of the position?
  • What are the major challenges in this position over the next 6-12 months?
  • What are the main problem areas that need attention in this new position?
  • How do the goals of this position fit into the overall goals of the company?
  • What are you personally looking for in the successful person?
  • What capabilities do you feel are most important in the role?
  • What are the resources (budget, staff, equipment, software) available to do the job?
  • What is the make up of the team I would be working with?
  • Who would I be reporting to?
  • What is the highest priority for the position?
  • How will my performance be measured?
  • What is the performance management process?
  • Is there an induction and training program?
  • What are the next steps in the process?

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