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  1. What to avoid during the job interview

    March 4, 2015 by Jenna

    When a potential employer likes your CV and requests an interview it can feel like you are on top of the world. The next step is to then prepare yourself for the interview. While there are many ways to make a lasting impression, I would like to look at what to avoid doing during an interview:

    1. Don’t freeze up – While we can all be nervous at times, freezing up is not how you want to be remembered during the interview.

    To overcome this you need to practice, practice, practice. Practice your interview questions and the scenarios you think you will encounter during the interview. This is a great way to deal with nerves and build confidence in your manner and responses. It is important to have a positive mindset on how the interview will go. If you believe you will fail the interview, chances are you will. It’s okay to admit that you’re nervous, but it is important to believe that you will perform well.  How do you do this?  Practice, Practice, Practice.

    2. Don’t dominate – Confidence is essential to take into an interview, however, dominating an interview with your personal monologue is not what a potential employer is looking for. Remember the employer is making time to see you to learn specific information about you in order to assess your suitability for the role. If you are not allowing them to ask questions or cut them off mid-sentence, you will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

    Practice listening skills as well as answering questions prior to the interview. Active listening can provide you with valuable insight about the company and the role you are applying for. It shows your genuine interest in the company/potential role and helps you tailor your responses to the interview questions.

    3. Don’t be sloppy – Find out the company’s dress code standard prior to the interview. But no matter how casual the dress code – don’t be a slob. It should go without saying that whatever you wear should be clean, pressed and neat. It’s also better to be a little over-dressed rather than under-dressed. When someone comes to an interview looking like he or she has just rolled out of bed, it communicates lack of respect for the interviewer, the job and the company.

    4. Don’t throw anybody under a bus – There may be circumstances that have caused you to move on from your previous role and how you address these in an interview is very important. Describing your previous boss as ‘incompetent’ or saying that you worked with the ‘colleague from hell,’ doesn’t help you to shine as a potential candidate. Saying negative things about your past work life in an interview only gives the impression that you’re both a complainer and indiscreet.  Neither quality puts you on the ‘let’s hire’ list.

    If you have had a negative experience it may be better to portray it by commenting on what you have learned through the experience, and what you are hoping for in a future opportunity.

    5. Don’t focus more on perks than the job – When you are tailoring your questions for the job interview, focus what will be required of you in the role and where it might lead in the future. Questions such as; how many weeks can I take for annual leave, how many sick days can I have per year or what sort of computer do I get, may give the impression that you are only interested in the role for the perks. The employer, on the other hand is looking to understand what you can provide to the company and whether you will complement their culture.

    6. Don’t be opinion-free – To get the role doesn’t mean you need to be a ‘yes man’. If you need to ask more questions for clarification don’t be afraid to do so. It is important to show initiative and to have opinions as long as you can back them up with valid reasons, especially if you are applying for a leadership role.

     7. Don’t stretch the truth – Just don’t, it will come back to haunt you.

    8. Don’t be clueless about the company – In the age of the internet, there is no excuse for going into an interview not having a solid foundation of knowledge about the company. If you don’t care enough to find out about the company, it’s natural for the interviewer to assume you won’t be that interested in finding out how to do the job well, either.

    What are your experiences with interview dos and don’ts? What feedback would you provide to a candidate going in for the interview process?

  2. What is the hardest interview question you have ever been asked?

    November 27, 2012 by Jenna

    I’m sure you can relate to a time when you walked out of an interview feeling mentally and physically exhausted. You ran through the interview over and over again in your head, and what stuck was that one question that just completely threw you off guard.

    I know I have. I remember walking out of an interview feeling like an epic failure, only to then be called a few hours later and I was offered the job!

    The tough interview question I had to deal with related to how society viewed the Gen Y – how we are categorised as having a more relaxed work ethic and whether I a) agreed that this was true and b) whether I considered myself to be a part of this category. I froze and words stumbled out of my mouth with the general theme, although I can’t even recall what I actually said. Fortunately my overall response must have appealed to the interviewer as they offered me the job that afternoon!

    This month we asked you ‘what have been the hardest interview questions you have been asked?’ I consulted our recruitment experts here at Challenge Consulting, and provided below are their suggestions on how to prepare for these types of questions in the future:

    • What are some of your weaknesses? The reality is we all have weaknesses. The purpose of this question is to understand how aware you are of your weaknesses and also understand how proactive you have been in developing your skills to overcome your weakness. E.g. my biggest weakness is my perfectionism. I tend to not to want let tasks go until I know that I feel they are perfect. As my last job required me to juggle conflicting priorities, I had to develop my organisational skills to ensure that I prioritise and meet competing deadlines.
    • Where do you see yourself in 5, 10, 15 years’ time? Most people aren’t psychic so it is hard to say where you will be in 5 years, let alone 15 years! However, the purpose of this question is to better understand how you would like to develop your career. Explain why you have applied for that job and why you want that job. Next, you need to ensure you maintain the balance between being realistic and not too ambitious. Why are you committed to this job, how does it fit into where you want to go? What are the skills that you hope to develop in this job? Are you someone committed to this job or are you going to leave tomorrow when something better comes along?
    • What is a normal day like for you? This is a question that both candidates and employers get asked. It is hard, because most days aren’t “normal”. The purpose behind this question is to best understand how your time is most likely to be spent. What would be the percentage split of responsibilities? Are their seasonal influences on how your tasks will be split? Is your work project-based and therefore your workload will be dependent on the project? You may like to explain how your last week or month looked, to provide an example of how your workload is managed.
    • Give us a specific example of someone you found difficult to work with. What did you do? What was the result? The purpose of this question is looking at how you have adapted your own interpersonal style to meet the needs of the situation. Provide the steps that you took in building this relationship and what you learnt from this in the future. You can of course outline an example of where you were faced with someone that was particularly challenging, and outline the steps that you took to build this relationship. The key thing is explaining how you are proactive in resolving situations. We’ve also covered an article on this previously that you may find of interest.
    • Why shouldn’t we hire you? This is a tricky way of asking – what are your weaknesses? See above.
    • You have 1 minute to tell me why I should hire you – While this question may seem like it’s pressuring you to sum up your response, this question does allow you to outline key points and it is the opportunity to sell yourself in the interview. When the interview is being conducted, one minute can actually be quite a long time to outline your strengths. If you have never taken the opportunity to write down your key strengths, I suggest taking the time to do so, as this is a question that you can prepare yourself for.
    • How would you define ‘common sense’? Sometimes it can throw you off to be asked to define something as you may feel that you need to tell the employer what they want to hear as opposed to using logic and applying the term to something that you would use in a day to day situation. Here is the dictionary definition: Good sense and sound judgment in practical matters.

    We always recommend practising your interview skills. Last week we featured an article that explains the benefits of mock interviews. But despite all the practice sometimes you just cannot prepare the answer ahead of time. When faced with that tricky expert, remember nobody is a better expert on your key strengths and what you can offer the role better than you. Instead of going into panic mode (which is our natural response) give yourself space. Breathe. Listen to the question. Don’t be afraid of short pauses. Reflect on your key strengths and skills and give your answer.

    But remember nobody knows you better than you, so you are the perfect person to answer that tricky question that they are asking.

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