Interview skills


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  • Do: IntroductionsVery informal learning session today. We are restricted by time but would like all to openly discuss and ask questions when they need to. Handouts: n/aDuration: 2-3 mins "The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career!"-Earl Nightingale was an Americanmotivational speaker and author
  • Do:Talk through.Duration: 1 min
  • Duration: 1-2 min
  • Say: Preparation is about more than just feeling ready to face a ‘daunting’ situation, or showing an interviewer your knowledge of and suitability for their organisation. Preparation, is an indication of how likely you are to work if they are successful in securing the position. Activity:Group discussion of what they prepare for before an interview. Flipchart and cover the below.Share HR / Manager storiesWho owns the company and how is it funded? Is it part of a larger group, or does it have smaller subsidiaries? Gain a broader understanding of the market and industry sector in which the company operates? Who are their main competitors? What are potential issues in the medium to long term of being within that market? What are the biggest threats to the business? Do a search of recent press cuttings concerning the company. You can then make educated comments on relevant issues during the interview. Make sure you are extremely familiar with the company’s website. This should contain relevant press releases as well as access to recent annual reports, accounts and other corporate information. Look at past and predicted growth of the business and ask for the client’s view on this in the interview. This will emphasise the fact that you do not have a short-termist or uneducated approach. To avoid any basic ‘schoolboy’ errors, make sure you know the exact location and time of your interview. Make sure you are ten minutes early and, fundamentally, that you can pronounce the name of the company correctly!Overall: The companyYour CV/experienceExamples (with STAR approach answers)Duration: 5-10mins
  • Say: Whatever environment your job interview is taking place in, a conservative company or a more relaxed workplace, some basic business clothing rules apply.Activity:Ask group to discuss their appearance prep.
  • Say: Whatever environment your job interview is taking place in, a conservative company or a more relaxed workplace, some basic business clothing rules apply.Scuffed shoes are an indication of lack of attention to detail. Dirty shoes are one of the most detrimental dress mistakes. Make sure that your shoes are clean and polished. They should also be comfortable enough to walk with ease in, particularly if you are doing a tour of the company or department.Hair should be neatly combed and styled. Avoid a hair style that requires you to constantly brush or flick your hair back during the job interview. Fiddling with your hair is off-putting for the interviewer - it sends the message that you are nervous and unsure.Sunglasses pushed up in your hair look messy.Carry a small briefcase or portfolio in place of a bag to your job interview. If you feel you need a bag, a small structured bag is preferable to a large floppy bag. Avoid canvas and straw bags, these look very unprofessional.Make sure you have cleaned and trimmed fingernails. Understated, natural -colored nail polish is acceptable. Flashing red fingernails can be distracting. The interviewer needs to focus on what you are saying.Duration: See next slide
  • Avoid tight fitting or transparent job interview clothes, plunging cleavages, short or slit skirts. Sexy clothes send the message that you are relying on your looks and not your skills to get the job! Leather clothing tends to give the impression that you are trying to be trendy.Wear understated make-up. Shiny eye shadow, heavy eyeliner and overdone lipstick distract the interviewer from what you are saying.Before your job interview cover up tattoos as much as possible and take out body piercings including earrings if you are a man.Also avoid wearing baggy interview clothes. Sweats and clothes that are too big create an impression of untidiness. Pants pulled down around your hips look unprofessional.Don't bring gum, candy, cool drinks or sodas into the interview. All these send the message that you are not taking the interview process seriously.Wear understated jewellery. Ostentatious, in-your-face jewellery is a big distraction and gives the impression of flashiness. Big, dangling earrings and jangling bracelets are particularly distracting as they bounce about as you talk and move your hands. Anklets can make your feet a focal point. You want the interviewer to concentrate on your face and what you have to say.Men should avoid necklaces or bracelets. One ring per hand and a watch are enough jewellery.If you are having to travel any distance to your job interview consider how wrinkled your clothes may look after a couple of hours traveling. Select job interview clothes that do not crease easily.Too much perfume / fragranceHandout: Your interview dress guideDuration: 3-5 mins
  • Body language This is more important than many people give it credit for. As well as considering bad/off-putting habits which you may have, Using effective non-verbal communication techniques, including appropriate interview body language, in your job interview is essential to your success.Ask:What % of your words are effective in communication? (7%)What % of your voice tone is effective in communication? (38%)What % of your body language is effective in communication? (55%)Duration: 3-5min
  • Body language This is more important than many people give it credit for. As well as considering bad/off-putting habits which you may have, Using effective non-verbal communication techniques, including appropriate interview body language, in your job interview is essential to your success.What % of your words are effective in communication? (7%)What % of your voice tone is effective in communication? (38%)What % of your body language is effective in communication? (55%)Blue, Red = Non-verbal communication accounts for over 90% of the message you are sending in your job interview.Green = Your verbal content only provides 7% of the message the interviewer is receiving from you.As you can see your non-verbal signals, both your body language (55% of the message) and the way you speak such as voice tone (38%) are as important as the actual words you use in your job interview answers.Duration: 2-3min
  • Ask: when does your interview start? Your interview starts when you enter the building. Consider your interactions with everyone you meet!Say: Lets take one example of body language – the handshake – often the first face-to-face interaction you will have with the interviewer.Cover: sitting in the waiting area.Activity: Say Hi In pairs practice the hand shake. Discuss as a group.Handshake again – give each other feedback.1. Begin With an Oral Introduction of YourselfBefore extending your hand, introduce yourself. Extending your hand should be part of an introduction, not a replacement for using your voice. Extending your hand without a voice greeting may make you appear nervous or overly aggressive.2. Pump Your Hand Only 2-3 TimesA business handshake should be brief and to the point. Consider a handshake a short “sound bite” greeting, not a lengthy engagement. Holding on for more than three or four seconds can make other people feel uncomfortable.3. Shake From Your ElbowIf you shake from the shoulder, using your upper arm instead of just your forearm, you risk jolting your handshake partner. The idea is to connect, not be overbearing.4. Do Not Use a Forceful GripA handshake should be a friendly or respectful gesture, not a show of physical strength. An uncomfortable handshake is never a pleasant experience for anyone. Imagine you are opening a door handle and use about the same level of grip in your handshake.5. Avoid Offering a “Fish Hand” A limp hand is never a good idea when it comes to a business handshake. Do return the grip, but do not get into a power struggle, even if the other person squeezes too hard.6. Forget “Lady Fingers”This is not a Southern Cotillion, this is business. Offering only your fingers to shake may be appropriate in some social settings, but in business settings you are an equal, not a “lady.” Extend your entire hand, and be sure to grasp using your entire hand as well.7. One Hand is Better than TwoAvoid the urge to handshake with two hands. It is always better in business introductions to use only one hand – your right hand – for the shake. The use of two hands with strangers is seen as intrusive, and too personal. In fact, a two-handed shake is called the “politician’s shake,” because it appears artificially friendly when used on people you barely know.8. Shaking a Sweaty HandIf you shake hands with someone who has sweaty palms, do not immediately wipe your hands on your clothing, handkerchief, or tissue. This will further embarrass the other person, who is probably already aware they have sweaty hands. You can discretely wipe them on something after you are out of site, and wash them later.9. Ending a HandshakeEnd the handshake after 3-4 seconds, or 2-3 pumps. In order to avoid creating an awkward moment, your shake should end before the oral introduction exchange does. Without conversation taking place during the entire handshake, it becomes too intimate, and can feel more like hand holding.10. Covering Your MistakesEven if you make a mistake, do not panic. There are many ways to save the moment. If you are worried that your handshake did not convey the right message about yourself, simply change the focus of the moment by offering a quick compliment or asking the other person a question.Duration:5-10min
  • Flipchart and discuss, then go through slides.Ensure that your handshake is firm.Always maintain a good posture, comfortable yet assertive – do not slouch! Make sure that you listen as well as you speak. Make sure that the interviewer is aware that you are taking on board their comments, whether by nod or timely interjection, and if there is more than one interviewer present then switch your glance between them at regular intervals. Whilst gesticulation can often help to get a point across, make sure that this is limited as it can also suggest nervousness. Sitting upright =comfortable and feeling confident. Hunching down in your chair=nervousness and low self-esteem. A sloppy posture = careless attitude and a lack of energy. Sitting on the edge of your chair = being nervous and tense.Relax and lean slightly forward, about 10 degrees, towards your interviewer = interested and involved. Leaning back = too relaxed and casual. Leaning to the side = not feeling comfortable with the interviewer.Head tiltHow you position your head also sends a message. Tilting your head very slightly to one side=friendly and open. Keeping it straight comes across as self-assured and authoritative. It is also important to pay attention to the posture of your interviewer. Sometimes you can establish rapport by adopting the same posture as the other person. This is called mirroring. If they have adopted a more formal posture do the same until you see that the interviewer has relaxed and become less formal.Duration: 2-3min
  • If you are unsure of what to do with your hands, rest them, loosely clasped in your lap or on the table. Control your hands by being aware of what you are doing with them.Having your hands above the neck, fiddling with your face or your hair, is unprofessional and conveys nervousness and anxiety. Keep your hands away from your face. Interview body language experts will tell you that touching the nose or lips can indicate that the candidate is lying. Holding a hand behind your head is often a sign that you are annoyed or uncertain.Folding your arms across your chest = closed and defensive attitude. Waving your hands and arms around = uncertainty and a lack of professionalism. Common wisdom is that the less you move your arms and hands about the more confident and in control you are. Practice a comfortable way to loosely place your arms and hands while you are sitting, both at a table and in a chair on its own. Be aware of the interview body language message your legs are giving. Lots of leg movement is both distracting and indicates nervousness. Resting one leg or ankle on top of your other knee makes you look too casual and comes across as arrogant. Crossing your legs high up conveys a defensive attitude in the one-on-one context of a job interview. Crossing them at the ankles or placing both feet flat on the floor conveys a confident and professional look during the job interview.Duration: 2-3min
  • To show actively listening, you need to instigate direct eye contact and maintain it. Avoid appearing as if you are staring aggressively by blinking at regular intervals and moving your head every now and then, such as giving a small nod. Interview body language experts suggest that when you are doing the talking you need to hold eye contact for periods of about 10 seconds before looking away briefly and then re-establishing eye contact. Overusing direct eye contact when you are speaking can come across as lecturing or challenging the interviewer. Typically the listener maintains direct eye contact for longer than the speaker who breaks it off at intervals.Looking constantly downwards makes you appear insincere or submissive. It is acceptable to look down if you are making notes or referring to information in front of you. However if you are speaking, or the interviewer is asking you something, raise your head and make regular eye contact to show that you are actively involved. With panel interviews it is best to look at and direct your answer to the person asking the question, with a glance periodically at the other interviewers.Eye contact is essential interview body language to establish rapport with your interviewer. Not making eye contact makes the interviewer feel disconnected from you. Eye contact should be a positive aspect of interview body language, if it is not used properly however it can quickly become negative.Voice DeliveryAvoid speaking in a monotone by varying your tone and pitch, however don't overdo it and come across as overly excited or emotional.Breathe and pause before answering a question, this gives you time to react in a considered way and it ensures that the interviewer has finished the question. You should interact with the interviewer as an equal, not a subordinate. Ensure that your voice tone is not apologetic or defensive. Generally it is advisable not to show too much or too strong emotion during your job interview. Smile and nod at appropriate times but don't overdo it. Avoid erupting into laughter on your own, laughing along with the interviewer is far more acceptable.Duration: 2-3min
  • Watch for these interview body language signals from your interviewer to read the message they are sending you.Body language cues that can indicate boredom include resting head on hand, fiddling with hands and losing eye contact. If this happens wrap up what you are saying and move on by asking the interviewer a question such as, "Is there anything else you would like to know about that topic?" If the interviewer crosses arms or leans away it could mean that they are feeling uncomfortable. Perhaps you are leaning in too close and invading their space in some way. Create more space between yourselves. If there is not a table between you that creates a safe degree of personal space, keep a distance of about two to three feet, this is a comfortable amount of personal space for most people. Drumming fingers and rubbing the face can indicate irritation. Clarify that you are answering the question with the information they want and not frustrating them with an off-the-point responsePreparing for your job interview includes not only knowing what to say but how to say it. The best way to be aware of your interview body language and the way you are coming across is to practice in front of a mirror. This way you can be confident that you are sending the right message in your job interview. The message that you are a professional, confident and enthusiastic candidate for the position!The interviewer may show behaviour which makes you decide you don’t want to work for the company – remember you are interviewing them too!Duration: 2-3min
  • A competency is a set of defined behaviours that provide a structured guide enabling the identification, evaluation and development of the behaviours in individual employees.A competency interview (also referred to as a situational, behavioural or competency based interview) is a style of interviewing often used to evaluate a candidate's competence, particularly when it is hard to select on the basis of technical merit: it can give valuable insights into an individual's preferred style of working and help predict behaviours in future situations..Handout: CompetencyActivity: Give each person 2-3 competency questions, they write down their answer, using their CV to help them think of examples. Duration: 10-15min
  • Ask: What does this mean?STARIt is a universally recognised communication technique designed to enable you to provide a meaningful and complete answer to questions asking for examples. At the same time, it has the advantage of being simple enough to be applied easily.Many interviewers will have been trained in using the STAR structure. Even if they have not, they will recognise its value when they see it. Step 1 – Situation or TaskDescribe the situation that you were confronted with or the task that needed to be accomplished. With the STAR approach you need to set the context. Step 2 – ActionYou need to explain what you did. In doing so, you will need to remember the following:Be personal, i.e. talk about you, not the rest of the team.Go into some detail. Do not assume that they will guess what you mean.Steer clear of technical information, unless it is crucial to your story.Explain what you did, how you did it, and why you did it.Step 3 – ResultExplain what happened eventually – how it all ended. Also, use the opportunity to describe what you accomplished and what you learnt in that situation. Ask:Who remembers the story Little Red Riding Hood? When did you last hear it? Why do we remember stories so easily? People like hearing stories.Duration: 2-3min
  • Participants need their CV / examples of their work experience (optional) and an interview question each / per pair.Activity: Handout: Star Approach handout.Each pair to select 1-2 interview questions and phrase their responses using the STAR approach.Discuss a few examples briefly as a group.TipsRemember to tell your stories in the STAR format.Remember that the same story can potentially be used to answer many different behavioural questions, but don't rely on the same story too much.After the interviewer asks you a question, it's OK to take 15 to 20 seconds to compose your thoughts before answering.Your 10 stories should reflect positively on you. Avoid choosing stories that don't show you working at your best.You can and should prep your stories / examples before the interview.Duration:15-20 min
  • Activity: Group observes mock interview. Good and poor and makes notes. Share ideas and group discussion.Role Play: 10-15minsDiscussion: 10-15 minsTotal: 20 – 30 mins1. First impressions countGreet your interviewer with a smile and firm handshake. Give eye contact. Try to make small talk during the walk from the reception area to the interview room. "You have to sell yourself before you can sell anything else and the first 30 seconds are when the interviewer subconsciously makes decisions about whether they like you or not and whether you will fit into the team."  2. Be preparedRe-read your CV and the job advertjust before the interview. Do your research thoroughly: Look at the company web site or obtain literature. You may be asked about the salary you are after so make sure you research that as well. 3. Don't waffle Answer questions properly - even if you need a few moments' silence to collect your thoughts.  4. Why should they hire you? Most job adverts will list qualities they're looking for - a team worker, a good communicator - so it's up to you to think of examples of how you can demonstrate these skills. Be ready to talk about your knowledge, experience, abilities and skills. Have at least three strong points about yourself that you can relate to the company and job on offer. 5. Be positiveYour interviewer will be thinking about what it would be like to work with you, so the last thing they'll want to hear is you talking about your boss or current colleagues behind their back. Interviewers like to see someone who enjoys a challenge and is enthusiastic. 6. Remember your body languageIt is not what you say, but how you say it. During the interview, do not fold your arms and lean back or look to the floor! Sit upright and try to maintain good eye contact. Use your hands and lean forward when making a point. Many people cannot think and control their body language at the same time, which is why you need to prepare.  7. Expect the unexpectedYour interviewer may try to catch you off guard: A survey by OfficeAngels has revealed that 90 per cent of employers ask 'killer' questions in interviews. It is impossible to plan for every difficult question, such as "How would your colleagues describe you?" but try to appear relaxed and in control. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question if necessary but do not evade it. Hopefully you will not befall the fate of those job candidates at B&Q who were asked to dance to "Blame it on the Boogie"!  8. Develop rapportShow energy, a sense of humour and smile. "It's infectious, being positive and enthusiastic." Ask your interviewer questions about themselves and any issues the business is facing. 9. Clarify anything you are unsure of If you are not certain what are meant by a particular question, ask for clarification. At the end, ask the interviewer if there is anything else he or she needs to know about. Do not be afraid to ask when you are likely to hear if you have been successful or not. 10. Remember your manners It is better to choose than to be chosen. Tell the interviewer why you are interested in the company and job opportunity. Ask them for a business card and follow it up by sending a "thank-you" e-mail or letter, saying how much you enjoyed meeting them and how interested you are. Take the opportunity to detail the key advantages you bring.
  • What are they?There are certain interview questions that are considered unethical, because they are designed to gain information about an applicant on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex, national origin, gender, birthplace, age, sexual orientation, disability, or any other protected class. Any question asked for the purpose of or could lead to discriminating against an applicant is considered unethical i.e. they can be intentional or unintentional.How do I know?Ask yourself, “Is this information relevant to the job or position?” If it is not, then be careful. It may help to make a list, ahead of time, of the possible unethical questions that might come up, so you will be prepared to recognize them and deal with them in the way you best see fit.Here are some examples of unethical/illegal questions.Similarly, Duration: 3-5 min
  • How to handle themWhen confronted with an unethical interview questions, you have some options:1. You can refuse to answer the question. This may or may not affect the interviewer’s hiring decision, but you will have stood up for your rights2. You can swallow your pride (and privacy) and answer the question. You might feel like your privacy has been violated, but at least you are still in the running3. You could ask a response question. You might, if asked about your marital status, say, “I am not quite sure of the reason for that question. Is it because you are afraid that I might not be able to carry out all my duties?” or,"That is a strange question; I haven't been asked that before in an interview. Why have you asked me that?”This puts the responsibility back on the interviewer, at the same time informing him or her that you are aware of the unethical nature of the question.4. You can address the real concern of the interviewer. Most of the time, unethical interview questions are a result of a genuine concern on the part of the interviewer (e.g., how long you plan to continue working at the company). It is possible to address this legitimate concern while ignoring the exact, unethically phrased, question. For example, when asked about whether you plan to have children, you might say, “I plan to pursue a career, regardless of whether I decide to raise a family.”Inappropriate interview questions such as, "Where were you born?", "Where were your parents born?" can be responded to in the same way in your job interview.The intent behind inappropriate interview questions such as,"How many kids do you have?" and "What child-care arrangements do you have?" is often to determine your reliability. Avoid any specific details, rather answer with a broad statement along the lines,"I have made the necessary arrangements to ensure that I am able to meet all the job requirements."Reassure the interviewer further and refer to your record of reliability in previous positions.How can I prepare for unethical interview questions?Deciding on what questions are unethical and how you should go about dealing with them can be tough, especially when you are in the middle of an interview. It helps to be aware of these issues beforehand and sort out for yourself exactly how you want to approach them. Here are some tips you can use in preparing for an interview:1. Make a list of sensitive questions you may be asked2. Decide how much information you are comfortable releasing and where your boundaries are3. Determine which of the approaches listed above you feel most comfortable using4. Practice, practice, practice! Duration:3-5 min
  • Activity: Ask group what questions they normally have for their interviewer.Write on Flip chart.Duration:5-10 min
  • Thank you note? – not necessary, some say it makes you stand out, although not expected or used very often in this day and age.Follow up – be mindful to how you follow up. It is ok to follow-up after an interview, but only after a certain period of time and only once. If you start pestering someone about whether they’ve made a hiring decision, you will become a nuisance and, potentially, endanger your chances of landing the job. Feedback – if you’re not successful ask for feedback. Although remember employers are not obliged to give you feedback.Hear nothing? Unfortunately employers don’t always deliver bad news. Many people who are hiring someone, especially if the person is not in the HR department, don’t get back to the candidates who didn’t get the job. It’s not the best practice, but it does happen. Follow the rule above about contacting people but, if it’s been weeks and weeks and still no word, you can send a second note. (That said, if it’s been weeks and weeks, you can also assume you didn’t get the job.)Duration:3-5 min
  • Duration:1min
  • Duration: 1-2 min
  • Ask:One thing you’ve learnt new today? Something you will take away with you.Handout: Training evaluation form / sticky notes – feedback (anonymous)All relevant handouts will be sent to them via email.Duration: 5-10 min Total Duration: (1hr 40min – 2hr 36min)
  • Interview skills

    1. 1. Interview Skills 1
    2. 2. Agreement 2
    3. 3. Objectives • Pre - interview • The interview • Post - interview 3
    4. 4. Pre –interview: how do you do it? 4
    5. 5. Appearance 5
    6. 6. Appearance Scuffed shoes Bag Nails Hair 6
    7. 7. Appearance Ill fitting / transparent Baggy / creased. Make-up Jewellery gum, candy, cool drinks 7
    8. 8. The interview: Communication Body language = ? Words = ? Tone = ? 8
    9. 9. The interview: Communication Words 7% Voice tone 38% Body language 55% 9
    10. 10. Greeting Say Hi 10
    11. 11. The interview: Body language • • • • Posture - sit upright Lean forward (10) Head tilt Mirroring 11
    12. 12. The interview: Body language • Hands –relaxed and controlled. • Folded arms? • Legs? 12
    13. 13. The interview: Body language • Eye contact - hold for periods of about 10 seconds. • Raise your head to engage in conversation. • Voice delivery- clear and controlled = confidence. • Avoid monotone – vary pitch and tone. • Laugh with the interviewer. 13
    14. 14. The interviewer’s message • • • • Interviewer body language. Boredom cues. crosses arms or leans away Drumming fingers and rubbing the face 14
    15. 15. Competency based interviews • Competency = a set of defined behaviours • also called situational, behavioural interviews • gives insights into an individual's preferred style of working and development of behaviours in future situations. 15
    16. 16. “STAR” approach • • • • Situation Task Action Result 16
    17. 17. Over to you 17
    18. 18. Role Play • • • • • • Entrance Body language Voice tone, pitch etc. STAR answers Exit Anything else 18
    19. 19. Ethics: difficult questions • • • • • What are they? How do I know? Age, UK citizen Do you have/plan to have children? Do you have any physical disabilities or handicaps? • Does your religion prevent you from working during certain times of the year? 19
    20. 20. Ethics: how to handle them 1. 2. 3. 4. Refuse to answer Answer them Ask a response question Address the real concern 20
    21. 21. Your questions • How would you describe a typical week/day in this position? • How would you describe the culture of the company? • How many people work in this office/department? • What is the typical work week? • What are the prospects for growth and advancement? • What do you like about working here? • What don't you like about working here and what would you change? • When can I expect to hear from you? • Are there any further questions I can answer for you? 21
    22. 22. Post interview • • • • ‘Thank you’ note? Follow up Feedback What if I hear nothing? 22
    23. 23. Good luck! 23
    24. 24. Objectives • Pre - interview • The interview • Post - interview 24
    25. 25. Questions? 25