21st Sep 2012
The training is just as key as the race
Performing at Interview
Last week I considered how getting a job has similarities to performing at the Olympics (or any other type of race - this is why they are referred to in the Public Sector as 'Competitions').
To get the job you have got to come first. I'm afraid a Silver or Bronze is no good unless the employer has what is called a 'reserve list' which means they will consider you in the future for a similar opening.
We have all read advice on how to do well at an interview but it is often easy to overlook the simplest things. For example you may know the address you are going to, but how easy is it to find parking? And will the car park be full when you arrive just before the interview?
As I mentioned last week preparation is key, but many of us are reluctant to put the time into it.
Just think of how hard serious athletes train. You should look at time spent as an investment. At interview you also have something to sell; yourself.
Firstly nearly every company has its own ideas on interviewing and if you can find out in advance this will of benefit. Don't be afraid to contact the company and ask who you will be seeing and their titles and how long the interview is likely to take.
If you are going through and Employment Agency or Recruitment Consultancy 'plague' them for more information. Make sure you 'swot up' on the Job Description.
While there is always the slim chance that this may upset it is unlikely to. Do find out as much as you can about the organisation and the job in advance.
You should have got the latter when you applied but do your research on the former.
The organisation's web site is always useful, but remember some the data may be out of date. It may be better to 'Google' them. If you know anyone who currently works there or worked there in the past do ask them.
Sometimes interviews are biographical (i.e. going through your CV or Application Form) while other times they are competency based (i.e. asking you to give an example from your past experience) or, if time permits, a mixture of the two. I wouldn't get too hung up on the subtleties of the different types of interview but more on preparing yourself for potential questions.
Be prepared for the question 'tell us about yourself'Â?. One of the problems here is how long should you take and where should you start.
Most employers are usually only interested in the last 10 years or so of experience, so is there any point in going back to school? My advice is, don't be afraid to ask: 'where would you like me to start?'Â?
Do keep an eye on the interviewers' body language. If you sense they would like you to move on, why not say 'Am I going into too much detail'.
Conversely if it seems your answer about yourself is too short, say to the Panel: 'Would you like me to go into more detail'.
Not only will this 'interactive' approach help ensure you provide the amount of detail being sought, it will start a two way dialogue which is an essential ingredient of a good interview.
Think about a time that you have sat on the other side of the table as an interviewer.
The good interviews are the ones that 'flow' and there are no pregnant pauses.
So be alert to clarifying (but not rudely interrupting) the question(s).
Some other generic things which you may be asked include what are your strengths, weaknesses and motivations, and what makes you think you can do this job?
You may also be asked for examples of how you have introduced changed and/or measured performance in you career.
And of course you are likely to be asked if you have any questions.
My advice here is to enquire about the future plans for the company and the resources/funding which it has? Be careful not to (under pressure) ask about silly things such as holiday entitlement as this may give the wrong impression.
If you are not opening the champagne, stay positive and learn from your experience. Determined athletes don't give up but try even harder at their next event. Good luck.
* Forde May is Managing Director of Forde May Consulting Ltd (02890 62 8877)