Interview Coaching

Interviewing for Success...

The interview is still the most critical part of the recruitment and selection process, despite it's inability to determine a candidate’s suitability / fit for the vacant position. In fact, it is estimated that the interview process is only 15% accurate in predicting the future performance of an applicant in a vacant position, yet more than 80% of employers admit to filling their vacancies based primarily / solely on the results of the interview. For the interviewee, this is not something to be concerned about…in fact, this can be viewed as an opportunity!

First impressions

Amazingly (or not!), 78% of all interviewers admit that they make up their mind on a candidate in the first 5 minutes of the interview… they then spend the remainder of the interview trying to prove to themselves (and to others) that their 1st impression was actually correct and accurate.

Therefore, when discussing interview techniques, it is essential that we focus on this critical period at the start of the interview when your first impression will more than likely determine your fate.

Some practical tips for making a positive 1st impression…

  • You must make a confident entrance, walking tall and looking confident.
  • Your Hand-shake is going to make one of the biggest impressions of all – how often do we assume that a weak handshake is a sign of a weak character?
  • The opening exchange…this can be awkward as both parties engage in “small talk”. Be prepared for this and try to ensure that it continues for as long as possible. You must try to build a relationship with the interviewer in as short a time as possible before you begin the more factual discussions about the vacant position.
  • Smile…It might sound very simple, but most people are so nervous at an interview that they do not smile and therefore lose the ability to make others smile back. Making the interviewer smile will also make him/her like you… ‘a smile is the shortest distance between two people’…this will also help you to build confidence and be generally positive during the interview…
  • Your voice tone can demonstrate confidence, or alternatively, a lack thereof. It can / will also demonstrate enthusiasm which is critical for success at interviews.
  • Your appearance is critical in making an impression on others. An interview is a formal process – your appearance should both respect and reflect this formality. Dress & present yourself as well as possible.
  • Your posture is also important and should reflect the impression that you are trying to make. Sit upright and lean slightly forward to demonstrate enthusiasm…
  • Know as much about the company as possible. This will create a positive impression if the company feels that you have gone to the effort of researching their organisation.

Tips for Answers...

You should always know as much about the company and the position as possible in order to pre-empt the kind of questions that the interviewer might ask. You should also know your own C.V. very well and be prepared to talk through every aspect of your C.V. in detail.
You should focus on the positive aspects of your career and always talk in terms of what you achieved in each of your jobs. Refer to results and successes in each position thus demonstrating how you have added value to each company.

You should never be derogatory to a previous employer at an interview and always talk positively about what you have gained in each of your employments - Interviewers like positive people.

Questions & Answers…..

Some questions for preparation...

  • Talk us through your CV  / career to date?
  • What do you know about our organisation / company?
  • What do you look for in a job?
  • How would you go about making this role work if you were successful in the interview process?
  • How would you evaluate your present employer?
  • What were your key achievement in your most recent position? Discuss?
  • What would your boss say about you if we called him/her for a reference?
  • What are your key strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses? Where do you need to improve if you were appointed to this position?
  • Describe a situations in which your work was criticised?
  • In your most recent position, what problems did you identify that had been previously overlooked?
  • Why do you want to work with our company / organisation? Why did you apply for this role?
  • Why are you looking to leave your current position?
  • If you could start your career again, would you do anything differently?
  • How successful have you been in your career to date?
  • In your CV you say you are adaptable (or resilient, fast learner, motivator, etc).  Give us an example in your work / life of a situation that demonstrates this?
  • Why should we offer you this position? What will you bring to this position / company if you were successful in your application?
  • Describe your management style?
  • What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction in your career to date?
  • What are your short term / long term goals for your career? Where do you see yourself in 5 / 10 years time?
  • Have you any questions that you would like to ask us?
  • Is there anything else you would like to add to support your application?

Competency Based Questions:

When conducting competency based interviews, employers will most often use Behavioural Event Interview Techniques or Situational Interview Techniques (both techniques have been detailed earlier in this module). Regardless of the questioning technique, the interviewer will identify they key competencies required to fill the role and ask questions which are designed to assist the interview panel in assessing the candidate. In many cases, the interviewee will not be aware of the competency being investigated as the questions will be designed to ‘mask’ this information.

Samples are as follows:

Competency / skills: Organisational ability
Sample Question: Can you give us an example of how your organisational ability has made you more effective and efficient in the workplace…

Competency / skills: Leadership skills
Sample Question: Can you give us an example of a situation where your leadership skills were critical in achieving a result that would not have been otherwise achieved by the group / team …

Competency / skills: Assertiveness skills
Sample Question: Can you give us an example of a situation where you needed to be assertive with a work colleague to ensure that your opinion was respected or your goal / objective was achieved…

When preparing for an interview, it is important that you identify the core competencies of the role and identify suitable examples to demonstrate competency in each area.

How to close an interview

It is best not to make any reference to money or wages at an interview unless the subject is raised by the interviewer.

Also at the end of the interview, when given the opportunity to ask a question, try to ask at least one question that will demonstrate an interest in the position and/or the company. An example of areas where questions could be asked are as follows:

  • Reason the position is available
  • Culture of the company
  • Future plans of the company (growth / expansion etc.)
  • Who are main competitors
  • Induction and training program
  • Company's goals
  • Best-selling products / services
  • The next step of the interview process

Expression of interest…

Whenever possible, you should state expressly at the end of the interview that you are very interested in the vacant position and that you would relish the opportunity of giving it your best effort. This will demonstrate enthusiasm which is critical for success at interviews. It will also make a positive lasting impression which is also key in winning at interviews.


The Whole Nine Yards….

There may be an opportunity during the recruitment process to go ‘the whole nine yards’ or the ‘extra mile’ i.e. to do something extra or special that will differentiate you from other candidates.

This could involve your research into the company’s product range, the role itself or it could equally involve a presentation of a sample of your work.  Alternatively, it could involve the presentation of a report on your suggestions as to how you could contribute to the company and how you would achieve the objectives of the role.

There are many possibilities and opportunities – all it needs is a little imagination and creativity. Whatever you decide, it is always valuable to demonstrate that you are prepared to go ‘the extra mile’ and are committed to, and enthusiastic about the vacant position.  Employers will usually make the assumption that this extra effort and creativity are characteristics that you will bring with you into the vacant position, thus improving your chances of securing the vacant position.