Interview Techniques

An interview can be a daunting experience - especially if you haven’t had much practice recently. To help you control your nerves it is worthwhile preparing for common questions that you may get asked. But what are the most common and sometimes the most difficult interview questions?

"Tell me about yourself"

As first impressions are very important, take the opportunity to present yourself in the most positive light. Start with an outline of your best achievement and then link this to the other work you have done. Don't go into too much detail and be careful not to waffle.

"What are your strengths?"

Select your three main strengths/qualities that are most relevant to the job you are being interviewed for. Aim to give a specific example of how you have applied that strength to a work situation.

"What are your weaknesses?"

Try to consider something you have recently identified as a weakness and think of the positive steps you have taken to improve the situation. It is possible to turn the weakness around to become a strength is you can demonstrate what you have learn't.

Coping with competency based interviews

What are competency based interviews?

Competency-based interviews are interviews where each question is designed to test one or more specific skills. The answer is then matched against a pre-decided set of criteria and marked accordingly. For example, the interviewers may want to test the candidate's ability to deal with stress by asking first how the candidate generally handles stress and then asking the candidate to provide an example of a situation where he worked under pressure. Local authorities, the public sector, charities and the banking industry are choosing competency based interviews as their preferred interview method and a comprehensive application form is normally completed in the first instance.

How do they differ from normal interviews?

Normal interviews usually consist of a conversation where the interviewers ask a few questions that are relevant to what they are looking in order to gain an overall impression of a person as an individual. Questions are fairly random and can sometimes be quite open, designed to ascertain how well a candidate might fit into the culture of the company rather than testing specific competencies. The candidate is judged on the general impression that he/she leaves; the process is therefore likely to be more subjective.

Competency-based interviews are more systematic, with each question targeting a specific skill or competency. Candidates are asked questions relating to their behaviour in specific circumstances, which they then need to back up with concrete examples. The interviewers will then dig further into the examples by asking for specific explanations about the candidate's behaviour or skills and they will be looking for

Which skills and competencies do competency-based interviews test?

The list of skills and competencies that can be tested varies depending on the post that you are applying for. For example, for a Personal Assistant post, skills and competencies would include communication skills; ability to organise and prioritise; and ability to work under pressure. For a senior manager, skills and competencies may include an ability to influence and negotiate; an ability to cope with stress and pressure; an ability to lead; and the capacity to take calculated risks.

For further information about interview skills and techniques contact Michelle on 07831 308519 or complete the general enquiry form.

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