Most people find job hunting stressful and frustrating rather than exciting. It is perfectly normal you feel pressure, you want to get a job after all. Having a great CV may help you be shortlisted, but it only means that you passed the first recruitment stage. Once you are invited for a job interview, the real fun begins.
Yes, fun! You are expected to talk about your achievements for an hour or so and no one will judge you for talking about yourself - this opportunity doesn’t happen in real life very often. Here are some tips on how to stand out from other candidates and show recruiters you are the best person for the job.
First of all it is important that you know who you are meeting with. Before the interview check your recruiters profiles on LinkedIn. It will give you an idea of who your interviewers are. If there are any similarities in your background or you like similar things, make sure that they come up at the interview - it is psychologically proven that people like more those who they have something in common with.
Before meeting recruiters, read the job description and person specification very carefully. Think of possible questions for every item and write your answers down justifying them with an example from your work experience. For example, the person specification says that you need to have an excellent organisation skills. You can expect to be asked how you organise your workload, describe the time when you were working under pressure or how you prioritise your work.
There are a few types of questions that you can expect at the interview. At the beginning recruiters will be keen to understand who you are and why you applied for a position. For sure, you will be asked to introduce yourself. Don't repeat items from your CV word for word, a good recruiter should already have read that. Keep it short and professional with a personal touch, say a few words about yourself, what made you apply for a position, what you are looking for and why. Make sure it is something that you want recruiters to remember about you. For example, when I am interviewed for an event manager position I like to mention that I am a world record breaker, recruiters are always intrigued and want to know more.
Recruiters can also ask about your knowledge of the company and why you want to work for them. Company research is a must before the interview. Check their website, social media, read most recent blog posts. Make sure you understand what they do and why they do it. Never say you are applying for a job because of the benefits, even if a high salary and their pension scheme are why you want the job. Instead you can say that the company ‘ticks all your boxes’, it is (e.g.) internationally recognisable, non-for-profit, you share the same values etc.
Whilst finding more about the company you may also identify areas where they could improve. It is good to have a list of those at the interview, it shows that are unlikely to be a shrinking violet, willing to go the extra mile and can actually help the business to grow. However, be careful and use it only if you feel the recruiters would want to talk about it. Some people don’t like hearing that they could do something better, especially at the interview. The question is who do you prefer to work for.
Another type of questions you can expect at the interview are behavioural questions. They refer to your previous experience, for example: tell me about the time when you…
- worked in a team
- took initiative
- had to make a difficult decision
These questions are all about understanding how you behave in certain situations. You should answer them as ‘I’, avoid saying ‘We’. Keep your answers short and simple, without going into too many details. Don’t overcomplicate it, a few sentences will be far enough. You can use the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to help you structure your story.
Knowledge questions - these questions depends on the character of a job. They all link back to the core competences described in the job description here are a few examples:
- Explain what good customer service is
- What statistic tools do you know?
- Have you ever worked with CRM?
As a foreigner you may sometimes question your language skills. You really shouldn’t! So you speak with an accent, what’s wrong about that? Take an advantage of the fact you are bilingual and if recruiters hesitate about your language proficiency tell them that because you are not a native speaker you actually pay more attention to grammar then an average person. That’s true, isn’t it?
After checking your skills and experience, recruiters will want to know more about you to make sure you would be a good fit for a company. What motivates you? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How would your friends describe you? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Did your previous employer think you needed to improve in any areas? Be honest but keep your answers professional and related to the job you are applying for. When talking about your weaknesses, try to prove you are working on overcoming them. You may be also asked what you do in your free time. Many interviewees don’t take this question seriously but this is a great opportunity to stand out. Best to say something memorable, for example instead of saying that I like to travel I say that I just came back from a hitchhiking trip around Balkans. It is a simple way of showing recruiters your other qualities.
Job hunting doesn’t have to be a pain. You obviously want to get a job, remember though a job interview is for both sides - for a company but also for you. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, the better you understand the position the more likely you won’t be disappointed afterwards. The most important is that you are satisfied. And remember - everything you need is in a job description and person specification. Seriously. Recruiters will not ask you questions unrelated to the character of the role. So analyse the offer, prepare your answers and enjoy it!
This article was written by Ola Gasza ( https://www.linkedin.com/in/aleksandra-gasza/ ) a Project Manager and trained Psychologist. Bayswater is committed to educating and inspiring the next generation. Each month we run seminars to assist our students further their careers with topics like interview questions and how to prepare for an interview.