Getting prepared for interviews


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A guide to all the things you need to worry about with job interviews in the UK

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Getting prepared for interviews

  1. 1. Getting prepared for interviews A Global Career Link Guide Global Career Link has tried to ensure that all data and information provided in this document is correct at the time it was included. Updating of data and information is done only periodically at Global Career Link’s sole discretion. Neither Global Career Link its employees, representatives or contractors guarantee the completeness, accuracy and timeliness of these data and information. The material and information contained in this document is provided for information purposes only. Global Career Link does not accept any responsibility for reliance taken on this report by third parties or by recipients where the use is outside of the intended use, which is to provide general information on the UK personal tax system. Any reference to external parties or websites is for information purposes and are for your convenience only and Global Career Link accepts no liability for any loss or damage arising directly or indirectly (including consequential loss) from the accuracy or otherwise of data or information contained on the pages of such sites or loss arising directly or indirectly from defects with such sites. Global Career Link’s inclusion of materials and websites does not imply any endorsement of the material on such sites. No portion of this report may be reproduced without the express written permission of Global Career Link.
  2. 2. Don’t panic! Like most Australasian’s going to the UK you probably have not had a job interview in a while – so this guide is designed to give you a bit of a practical refresher and tell you about some of the differences you can expect. How UK interviews are different from those back home Because most people take contract work when they first arrive in the UK (85%) it is likely that most of your initial interviews will be for contract work. These interviews tend to be very different as they are:  Shorter in length – around 30 minutes and they are often assessing either some core technical competencies for doing the job o seeing that you are the right personality fit for the team  Less structured – as the position is not permanent the right or wrong hiring decision is not as crucial therefore the interview is less structured.  Typically there is no testing – while psychometric testing is popular in New Zealand and Australia for jobs it is typically not used in the UK and almost never for a contract job. Find out if possible what format the interview will take; will it be a “behavioural” or “competency” based interview or an informal chat. Either way this guide is designed to help you with both types – so read on!
  3. 3. Wow lots of sort! Tips before the interview even starts Dress to impress! First impressions really do count, so ensure you look the part in a smart suit. Arrive early for the interview - 5-10 minutes early is optimum. Know exactly who to ask for – these companies are big in the UK and can have several thousand employees – some with the same name. So know exactly who to ask for at reception by name, job title and department. Take ID with you – some of the bigger companies will not let you past security without ID. If you cannot even get into the interview then that is not a good start. Take you mobile and important numbers – should you experience any delays, such as your tune breaking down, you need to be able to get in touch with your recruiter and let them know exactly what is going on. They will then ring the client to explain. Research the company – this means spending some real time investigating the company and the position that is available, we recommend that you use all the following sources:  Internet research – there is a stack of stuff available on the web these days – but it can be too much. We recommend that you research the company’s website and recent news through Google news.  Recruitment consultant – your recruiter has probably been dealing with the company and hiring manager for a while so they can provide valuable insights for you. Just ask them.  Friends and colleagues – Look on LinkedIn and other professional networking sites for people that you know that work at the company and get in touch with them to find out more.
  4. 4. Rubber hits the road At the interview – the sharp end Good body language is vital – It is the first impression that counts so greet your interviewer standing with a strong handshake, a friendly smile and by looking them in the eye. An enthusiastic, friendly and positive attitude will make a great impression – so keep thinking happy thoughts! Know your CV. – You will be expected to talk through it; paying particular attention to the experience you have that lends itself well to the role on offer. So think about this in advance of the interview. Listen carefully – We know that this sounds old hat but you need to understand and answer the interviewer’s questions. If you are unsure what the interviewer means by the question then ask for clarification. The best way to understand a question is to repeat it back to the interviewer as a statement. Answer questions but don’t waffle – time in the interview is generally short so keep your answers to the point but more than one word. Show enthusiasm for the role and company. If they have gone to the trouble of interviewing you they most likely already think you can do the job – now is your chance to reassure the interviewer that you will be an asset to the organisation! The interview will generally start with an introductory chat, and then move onto more formal questions, concluding with the opportunity for you to ask any remaining questions.
  5. 5. Get ready for some curly ones Questions that you might be asked Tell me about yourself - This is an open-ended question often asked to help break the ice in an interview. This question may be used to assess your personality, preparation, communication skills and ability to think on your feet. Remember keep the answer job-related. Why did you leave your last job? – Respond positively “to extend my career through international experience" or “increased responsibility and greater variety of work"... Why do you want to do this job / work for this company – Demonstrate you hav edone your homework and show your knowledge of the company emphasising your suitability for the job. What do you think you have to offer this company - This is a chance to sing your praises and show interest in the job so concentrate on the skills you have which they need. What do you think this position involves? - This question is designed to reveal that you have thought about the position, done some research, listened to the interviewer, and can summarise all of this information clearly. What do you know about the company – Demonstrate your interest in the job, and your understanding of the company and industry. Talk about the research you have done into the company like it’s size, customers, reference your source of information where appropriate. Do you have any questions you would like to ask – Prepare some questions to ask the interviewer. Ask about the position, request clarification of general information about the company, or summarise your understanding and request confirmation. What do you believe are your key strengths -. Prepare responses that give specific examples of your strengths at previous positions meets this employers needs. What do you believe are your weaknesses - This is an opportunity to turn the question into a positive. Think of a plausible weakness that is not negative such as "I put a lot of pressure on myself to meet deadlines". Alternatively you can show how you overcame the weakness. "I have learned to value constructive criticism as I find it helps improve my job performance." What do you enjoy most about your current / last job –List enjoyable aspects of past jobs that relate strongly relate to the key competencies of the job you are interviewing for. Where do you see yourself in five years time? - This is an assessment of your ambition and career planning. So demonstrate that your long-term goals are appropriate for the job. What was your most noteworthy accomplishment in your last job - Give examples of ways in which you saved the company time or money or developed a strategy or procedure that improved efficiency. Do you work well under pressure – Answer "yes" and give an example of a time when you rose to the challenge.
  6. 6. Or behavioral interviews Competency based interviews – what to expect A competency based interview allows you to display your skills, knowledge and abilities (known as competencies) by giving specific examples of your past experiences. Through these interviews you can demonstrate what you have done. Preparation is the key. Before any competency-based interview, look at the job description and try to put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. If “Leadership” is a key requirement for the role, simulate and practise a few answers around this. What happens Interviewers will ask you very pointed questions. Frequently these questions will be based around a job description. In the interview, your response needs to be specific and detailed. Tell the interviewer about a particular situation that relates to the question, not a general one. When answering the question try to plan your answers in the following format – Situation, Action, Outcome. Situation - What was the situation? Describe the situation to set the scene. Action - What did you do as a reaction to this situation? Talk about “I” rather than “We”. The interviewer is interested in what you did, not the company as a whole. Outcome - What was the result of your action? Give a positive result that shows success in the outcome. Examples  Can you tell us about a time when you made a particularly good decision? What was the situation? What decision did you make and how did you make it? How did others respond? How did you determine that it was a particularly good decision?  Can you tell us about a time when you personally developed a new skill? How did you identify that you needed the new skill? How did you go about obtaining the new skill? What obstacles did you encounter? What was the outcome?  Can you tell us about a time when you exceeded a customer’s expectations? What were their expectations? How did you determine their expectations? How did you exceed them and why? How did they respond?  Can you tell us about a time when you dealt with conflict in a team? Who was involved in the conflict? What was the extent of the conflict and how was it caused? How did you determine the cause of the conflict? What did you do? How did others respond? What was the outcome?