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How to Succeed at Interviews
John McMenamin
Careers Consultant
Career Development Centre
Workshop Objectives
1. Know how to prepare effectively for interviews
2. Know how to create a good first impression
3. Know how to perform well at interviews
4. Learn what to do and what not to do at interviews
Workshop Content
1. Anticipating the questions
2. Preparing for the interview
3. First impressions
4. Typical and non-typical interview questions
5. How to answer competency-based questions
6. Interview tips
Anticipating the questions
Anticipating the questions
1. Do your research
Know yourself
– Re-read your application
– Strengths and weaknesses
– Why you want the job?
Know about the job
– What skills do you need?
– How can you demonstrate these skills
with examples from University, work, outside interests?
Know about the organisation & sector
– Why do you want to work for that organisation?
– What’s happening in the sector right now?
Anticipating the questions
2. Look at the job description
The person specification is often primary
source for interview questions
Anticipating the questions
3. Research questions other people
have been asked
Student room and Glassdoor are very useful
sites for such research
Preparing for the interview
Preparing for the interview
– What will the interview format be?
– How will you get there?
– Rehearse your answers
(We can help you with this!)
– Questions for the interviewer – shows interest and
enthusiasm for the role + tells you more about the
job – take a notepad with you – jot down questions
as they occur to you
First impressions
First impressions
– Assume your interview starts LONG before you walk
into the interview room
– The initial visual impression can make or break your
chances of success
– Dress to impress
– Look confident
– Be confident (easier said than done)
– Don’t take anything into the interview that you
don’t need for the interview
– Assume that the interview isn’t over until LONG after
you walk out of the interview room
Typical interview questions
Non-typical interview questions
Why this company?
Tell us about yourself
Describe an effective team you were part of
What would your training needs be if we offered you the role?
Tell us about a difficult situation you handled
Give an example of good customer service
What are you really good at?
Do you have any questions for us?
Why are you here?
Sell us this pen
What flavour ice cream would you be?
If you were a superhero, what powers would you have and why?
Aren’t you a little old to be working for us?
Are you planning on having children?
Explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew.
Types of interview questions
There are 3 broad types of question at interview:
– Motivational
Designed to test your motivation and enthusiasm for the role, the
company and your future
– Technical
Relate to your ability to undertake the tasks that you could expect to be
given on a daily basis in the role
– Competency-based
Relate to the skills and competencies you would be expected to
demonstrate in order to perform the duties of the role effectively
Types of interview questions
Motivational
– Why do you want to work here?
– How much do you know about our organisation?
– Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years time?
Technical
– What systems and software are you competent in?
– What do you know about working in a photographic laboratory?
– What experience do you have of using the following… ?
Competency-based
– Can you tell us about a time when you...worked in a team/dealt with a
difficult customer/met a deadline?
– When answering competency-based questions, you should follow the
STAR model…
The STAR model
S situation
Briefly outline where you were, what was your job?
T task
Explain the task you encountered, what had to be done?
A action
What specific actions did you take to overcome the difficulty?
R result
What was the outcome and what did you learn?
Example of a STAR response
Describe a time when you have used an innovative approach to
solving a problem:
Situation
Task
Action
Result
This STAR response could equally be used for a question relating to making a
reasonable adjustment for a disabled person, going the extra mile for a customer
or use of initiative.
When I was assistant manager of an IT training workshop at a
college in Brighton, we had a student who couldn’t raise her
hand to ask questions due to arthritis in her shoulders. She
would get very frustrated when she had a problem and even
more frustrated when she couldn’t get the attention of one of my
staff to get the problem fixed. I went out and bought a set of
decorative lights that attach to the sides of computer monitors
which could be switched on and off by a button next to the
keyboard. I informed her and my staff that if she had a problem,
she should switch the light on and then my staff would be able
to see that she had a problem and could deal with it accordingly.
She was very satisfied with the solution and found the learning
experience much easier and more rewarding.
Tips for
interview success
Know what the purpose of the interview is
– It’s a marketing exercise
You are selling a product to the employer.
YOU are the product.
Know your product well and sell it as best you can.
Support everything you say with evidence – use the
STAR model to achieve this.
Know what the employer is looking for
All employers are looking to answer three questions:
– Can you do the job?
Do you have the knowledge and skills?
– Do you want to do the job?
Do you have the motivation?
– Will you fit in?
Do you have relevant values and personal
qualities?
Know what you have to offer the employer
– Communication skills
– Interpersonal skills
– Customer service skills
– Teamwork
– Commercial awareness
– Problem-solving skills
– Enthusiasm
– Motivation
– Initiative
– Leadership
– Commitment
– Organisational Skills
– IT skills
– Others…..
Most employers will be looking for a broad range of skills:
Know what to expect on the day of the interview
– How many people will be on the panel?
– What format will the interview take?
– Will there be a skills test or psychometric
assessment?
– Where will the interview take place?
– Have you planned for transport problems?
– How many other candidates are there?
– Have you prepared questions to ask the employer?
Questions to ask your interviewer(s)
– Demonstrates an interest in the job and the employer.
No questions = no interest.
– Prepare at least six questions to ask at the end
– If all of your questions have been asked, say “I did have
several questions but you have actually answered
them all for me already” – show them the questions
too!
Questions to ask your interviewer(s)
– Why has the position become available?
– What are the main objectives and responsibilities of the position?
– How does the company expect these objectives to be met?
– What are the measures used to judge how successful I am in the role?
– What obstacles are commonly encountered in reaching these objectives?
– What is the desired time frame for reaching the objectives?
– What can I expect from you in terms of development and support?
– What aspirations do you have for me at the company?
– Where will the job fit into the team structure?
– What is the main thing the organisation expects from its employees?
– How do you build good relationships within teams?
– What is the turnover of staff like throughout the company?
– Are there any plans for expansion?
– How would you describe the company culture and management style?
Create a good first impression
Dress
– Appropriate business dress clean shoes!
What to take
– Certificates/portfolio if needed, copy of CV/application
Arrive on time
– Plan the route
– Leave extra journey time for problems
Meeting the interviewers
– Relax, but remember you are being observed
Body language
– Handshake – firm, dry, confident
– Eye contact
– Avoid closed gestures
– Vary your tone of voice
– Smile!
10 tips for a good interview
1. Assume the interview starts the moment you leave
home and ends when you return home
2. Greet everyone with a smile
3. Handshakes: Firm. Not bone-crushing or wet
lettuce leaf.
4. Listen to the questions and answer them, ask for
clarification if you are unsure what they are asking
5. Engage all interviewers in eye contact when giving
your answers
C
10 tips for a good interview
6. When answering competency-based questions
always give a specific example rather than a
general one
7. Avoid taking notes in with you and certainly never
read from them if you do
8. Always have questions ready for the end
9. Know what you’ve said in your application and be
prepared to discuss the details
10. Switch your mobile off!
JOHN’S DAD’S BONUS TIP:
Take a few deep breaths
before you enter the interview room
C
10 tips for a bad interview
1. Demonstrate a lack of knowledge of company/field/industry
2. Show a lack of enthusiasm
3. Turn up late to the interview
4. Being overconfident or casual
5. Discussing salary or asking administrative questions
6. Talking too much / not listening
7. Fidgeting
8. Demonstrating a lack of confidence
9. Sweaty palms syndrome
10. Being negative about anything
D
Interview - but no job offer?
– Did I prepare thoroughly?
– Did I get feedback on my performance?
– Am I right for the job/organisation?
– Do I need advice?
Useful links
Engage
– Search for jobs, book yourself in for appointments and events, search through the
growing bank of careers resources.
http://engage.westminster.ac.uk
Engage Plus – Interview simulator
https://engage.westminster.ac.uk/students/abintegro/InterviewSimulator
Monster – Careers advice
– Features lots of advice, instructional videos and an interactive mock interview
http://career-advice.monster.co.uk
Prospects
– UK graduate careers website, lots of information and advice
http://www.prospects.ac.uk
Target Jobs – for sector-specific advice
http://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors
Further information and guidance
Career Development Centre services:
– 20-minute quick queries:
CV, covering letter, application form checks
– 45-minute individual guidance interviews:
detailed career guidance, mock interviews
– Book your appointments using the Engage system
Our resources:
– CV Guide – available to download as a resource on Engage
– Free sector-specific and general careers publications
Contact Career Development Centre
www.westminster.ac.uk/careers
engage.westminster.ac.uk
T: 020 7911 5184
E: careers@westminster.ac.uk
First floor, 101 New Cavendish Street
(next to Cav St campus)
Also at Harrow – Maria Hewlett building

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How to succeed at interviews

  • 1. How to Succeed at Interviews John McMenamin Careers Consultant Career Development Centre
  • 2. Workshop Objectives 1. Know how to prepare effectively for interviews 2. Know how to create a good first impression 3. Know how to perform well at interviews 4. Learn what to do and what not to do at interviews
  • 3. Workshop Content 1. Anticipating the questions 2. Preparing for the interview 3. First impressions 4. Typical and non-typical interview questions 5. How to answer competency-based questions 6. Interview tips
  • 5. Anticipating the questions 1. Do your research Know yourself – Re-read your application – Strengths and weaknesses – Why you want the job? Know about the job – What skills do you need? – How can you demonstrate these skills with examples from University, work, outside interests? Know about the organisation & sector – Why do you want to work for that organisation? – What’s happening in the sector right now?
  • 6. Anticipating the questions 2. Look at the job description The person specification is often primary source for interview questions
  • 7. Anticipating the questions 3. Research questions other people have been asked Student room and Glassdoor are very useful sites for such research
  • 8. Preparing for the interview
  • 9. Preparing for the interview – What will the interview format be? – How will you get there? – Rehearse your answers (We can help you with this!) – Questions for the interviewer – shows interest and enthusiasm for the role + tells you more about the job – take a notepad with you – jot down questions as they occur to you
  • 11. First impressions – Assume your interview starts LONG before you walk into the interview room – The initial visual impression can make or break your chances of success – Dress to impress – Look confident – Be confident (easier said than done) – Don’t take anything into the interview that you don’t need for the interview – Assume that the interview isn’t over until LONG after you walk out of the interview room
  • 12. Typical interview questions Non-typical interview questions Why this company? Tell us about yourself Describe an effective team you were part of What would your training needs be if we offered you the role? Tell us about a difficult situation you handled Give an example of good customer service What are you really good at? Do you have any questions for us? Why are you here? Sell us this pen What flavour ice cream would you be? If you were a superhero, what powers would you have and why? Aren’t you a little old to be working for us? Are you planning on having children? Explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew.
  • 13. Types of interview questions There are 3 broad types of question at interview: – Motivational Designed to test your motivation and enthusiasm for the role, the company and your future – Technical Relate to your ability to undertake the tasks that you could expect to be given on a daily basis in the role – Competency-based Relate to the skills and competencies you would be expected to demonstrate in order to perform the duties of the role effectively
  • 14. Types of interview questions Motivational – Why do you want to work here? – How much do you know about our organisation? – Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years time? Technical – What systems and software are you competent in? – What do you know about working in a photographic laboratory? – What experience do you have of using the following… ? Competency-based – Can you tell us about a time when you...worked in a team/dealt with a difficult customer/met a deadline? – When answering competency-based questions, you should follow the STAR model…
  • 15. The STAR model S situation Briefly outline where you were, what was your job? T task Explain the task you encountered, what had to be done? A action What specific actions did you take to overcome the difficulty? R result What was the outcome and what did you learn?
  • 16. Example of a STAR response Describe a time when you have used an innovative approach to solving a problem: Situation Task Action Result This STAR response could equally be used for a question relating to making a reasonable adjustment for a disabled person, going the extra mile for a customer or use of initiative. When I was assistant manager of an IT training workshop at a college in Brighton, we had a student who couldn’t raise her hand to ask questions due to arthritis in her shoulders. She would get very frustrated when she had a problem and even more frustrated when she couldn’t get the attention of one of my staff to get the problem fixed. I went out and bought a set of decorative lights that attach to the sides of computer monitors which could be switched on and off by a button next to the keyboard. I informed her and my staff that if she had a problem, she should switch the light on and then my staff would be able to see that she had a problem and could deal with it accordingly. She was very satisfied with the solution and found the learning experience much easier and more rewarding.
  • 18. Know what the purpose of the interview is – It’s a marketing exercise You are selling a product to the employer. YOU are the product. Know your product well and sell it as best you can. Support everything you say with evidence – use the STAR model to achieve this.
  • 19. Know what the employer is looking for All employers are looking to answer three questions: – Can you do the job? Do you have the knowledge and skills? – Do you want to do the job? Do you have the motivation? – Will you fit in? Do you have relevant values and personal qualities?
  • 20. Know what you have to offer the employer – Communication skills – Interpersonal skills – Customer service skills – Teamwork – Commercial awareness – Problem-solving skills – Enthusiasm – Motivation – Initiative – Leadership – Commitment – Organisational Skills – IT skills – Others….. Most employers will be looking for a broad range of skills:
  • 21. Know what to expect on the day of the interview – How many people will be on the panel? – What format will the interview take? – Will there be a skills test or psychometric assessment? – Where will the interview take place? – Have you planned for transport problems? – How many other candidates are there? – Have you prepared questions to ask the employer?
  • 22. Questions to ask your interviewer(s) – Demonstrates an interest in the job and the employer. No questions = no interest. – Prepare at least six questions to ask at the end – If all of your questions have been asked, say “I did have several questions but you have actually answered them all for me already” – show them the questions too!
  • 23. Questions to ask your interviewer(s) – Why has the position become available? – What are the main objectives and responsibilities of the position? – How does the company expect these objectives to be met? – What are the measures used to judge how successful I am in the role? – What obstacles are commonly encountered in reaching these objectives? – What is the desired time frame for reaching the objectives? – What can I expect from you in terms of development and support? – What aspirations do you have for me at the company? – Where will the job fit into the team structure? – What is the main thing the organisation expects from its employees? – How do you build good relationships within teams? – What is the turnover of staff like throughout the company? – Are there any plans for expansion? – How would you describe the company culture and management style?
  • 24. Create a good first impression Dress – Appropriate business dress clean shoes! What to take – Certificates/portfolio if needed, copy of CV/application Arrive on time – Plan the route – Leave extra journey time for problems Meeting the interviewers – Relax, but remember you are being observed Body language – Handshake – firm, dry, confident – Eye contact – Avoid closed gestures – Vary your tone of voice – Smile!
  • 25. 10 tips for a good interview 1. Assume the interview starts the moment you leave home and ends when you return home 2. Greet everyone with a smile 3. Handshakes: Firm. Not bone-crushing or wet lettuce leaf. 4. Listen to the questions and answer them, ask for clarification if you are unsure what they are asking 5. Engage all interviewers in eye contact when giving your answers C
  • 26. 10 tips for a good interview 6. When answering competency-based questions always give a specific example rather than a general one 7. Avoid taking notes in with you and certainly never read from them if you do 8. Always have questions ready for the end 9. Know what you’ve said in your application and be prepared to discuss the details 10. Switch your mobile off! JOHN’S DAD’S BONUS TIP: Take a few deep breaths before you enter the interview room C
  • 27. 10 tips for a bad interview 1. Demonstrate a lack of knowledge of company/field/industry 2. Show a lack of enthusiasm 3. Turn up late to the interview 4. Being overconfident or casual 5. Discussing salary or asking administrative questions 6. Talking too much / not listening 7. Fidgeting 8. Demonstrating a lack of confidence 9. Sweaty palms syndrome 10. Being negative about anything D
  • 28. Interview - but no job offer? – Did I prepare thoroughly? – Did I get feedback on my performance? – Am I right for the job/organisation? – Do I need advice?
  • 29. Useful links Engage – Search for jobs, book yourself in for appointments and events, search through the growing bank of careers resources. http://engage.westminster.ac.uk Engage Plus – Interview simulator https://engage.westminster.ac.uk/students/abintegro/InterviewSimulator Monster – Careers advice – Features lots of advice, instructional videos and an interactive mock interview http://career-advice.monster.co.uk Prospects – UK graduate careers website, lots of information and advice http://www.prospects.ac.uk Target Jobs – for sector-specific advice http://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors
  • 30. Further information and guidance Career Development Centre services: – 20-minute quick queries: CV, covering letter, application form checks – 45-minute individual guidance interviews: detailed career guidance, mock interviews – Book your appointments using the Engage system Our resources: – CV Guide – available to download as a resource on Engage – Free sector-specific and general careers publications
  • 31. Contact Career Development Centre www.westminster.ac.uk/careers engage.westminster.ac.uk T: 020 7911 5184 E: careers@westminster.ac.uk First floor, 101 New Cavendish Street (next to Cav St campus) Also at Harrow – Maria Hewlett building