The quick and dirty guide for preparing for a job interview
By Graeme Kiyoto-Ward
Why this guide Occasionally there are times that I provide help tothose who are needing to undertake a behaviouralbased interview. Often there is not a lot of time between when I provdethe help and the time of the interview. This pack provides a summary of the approach I takewhen helping people where there isn’t a lot of time toprepare.
Who is this guide for?You need this guide if you: have an upcoming behavioural based job interview. don’t have any pre-prepared materials. don’t have a lot of time to prepare. haven’t had much experience in behavioural basedinterviews.
What do you needYou will need: the position description or the advertisement of thejob you have applied for. pen and paper. at least an hour.
What will be the resultAt the end of this you will have: a way to introduce yourself. a list of why your hard skills match those of the job. a list of examples that prove you have the right softskills (the behavioural bit). some questions to ask. some information about the company. the right attitude.
About The Introduction Generally interviews start with some variant of thequestion “tell me about yourself.” You want to make a good first impression. The introductory question is a good place to sellyourself. How you manage introductory questions may decidehow seriously you are taken.
Preparing for the IntroductionTo answer the most common introduction questions youneed three things: Who you are (I am a…) What you do (I currently do…) Why they need you (I have applied for this jobbecause…)If you have these things you can probably answer 80% ofintroductory questions.
Practicing the Introduction Write it down. Practice, the practice again. Don’t skip this step.NOTE: If you have trouble talking aboutyourself, practice by describing someone you admireuntil you have the formula right, then describe yourself.
About Hard Skills Employers are looking for someone to do some specificfunction or specific tasks. This means hard skills. Hard skills are more likely learned from education ortraining, e.g. write code, balance books, etc. You need to prove you have those hard skills.
Prep for Hard Skills Questions Read the advertisement (or position description). Look for key hard skills they require. Write down each skill and an example : If you have no example, think about a similar experienceas an example If you have no similar experience, note down two tothree main points you have learned about the topic If you don’t have this then you have a gap
Practice Hard Skills Questions Practice how you would answer question that you don’thave good examples for. If you have one or two gaps be honest in the interviewif these come up. If you have too many gaps then how did you secure aninterview in the first place?
About Soft Skills – part one Employers are looking for people who act in certain ways asthey perform their duties. This means soft skills. Soft skills are more likely learned from experience, e.g.communicating, managing difficult customers, etc. Behavioural based interviewing is checking soft skills byasking how you dealt with similar situations in the past. This could be the main part of the interview.
About Soft Skills – part twoThere is a recommended approach for answering softskills question, which is. S: Describe the situation. T: Describe your assigned task. A: Describe the action you took. R: Describe the result. Provide enough detail to make the example real.
Prep for Soft Skills Questions Read the advertisement (or position description) tofind the key soft skills they require. Write down each skill and an example : If you have no example, think about a similar experienceas an example If you don’t have this then you have a gap Make sure each example has a Situation, Task, Actionand a Result.
Prep for Soft Skills Questions Watch out for soft skills questions that may not beobvious from the position description, such as: Tell me what is your greatest weaknesses Tell me about a time you made a mistake Use google to search for ‘difficult interview questions’and check for anything that would give you trouble. Ask people you have worked with for any examples ofwhat you have done that has impressed them.
Practice Soft Skills Questions Practice how you would talk about each example. Make sure that the Situation, Task, Action and Resultare clear in your answers. If you have a friend who can help, get them to ask youquestions.
About Questions to Ask If you really want a job you may be tempted not to askquestions because these would seem to be a ‘barrier’ If you don’t ask questions then the interviewer maythink that you are not interested in the job. Make sure you have some questions to ask.
Prep for Questions to Ask Google something like “questions to ask at a job interview.” Select a result that has a reasonable sized list. Find a question that you feel sounds good. Check you could reply if asked “why did you ask thatquestion?” Write the question down. Repeat until you have five questions.
Information about the Company Go and find some information about the company. Most companies have a company website, for the restthere is google. There is no excuse. If you are not interested in their company they areunlikely to be interested in you.
Getting the right attitude If you are good at selling yourself, that’s great. If you struggle to sell yourself it could be a problem. Redefine how you look at the situation. Think aboutwhy they need you and how you can help them.
Finally Make some notes and take them with you. Be on time. Don’t do any difficult or complex mental tasks in thehour prior to the interview. Definitely don’t do any task that you find unpleasant inthe hour prior to the interview.