How to survive job interviews: expert advice
How should you tackle tricky questions and stand out from the crowd? We round up our experts’ advice on successful job interviews Share 0 inShare0 Email Martin Williams theguardian.com, ) Potholes roadsign How can you avoid the pitfalls of job applications? Be prepared Clare Whitmell is a Guardian contributor and a qualified business communication trainer: “The job advert and person specification will probably give you clues about areas the interviewer will be interested in. Role play these with a friend so you get used to talking about yourself and tying together your experience and background with the job specifics. “It’s also worth practising how you enter a room. It sounds corny, but ask someone to give you feedback on those initial, vital few seconds.
Do you look nervous or confident?
Do you smile or look terrified?
Do you look as if you know you can do the job and are excited about the opportunity?
“You should also know what format the interview is taking.
Is it part of an assessment day, or something you can prepare in advance?
What’s being tested? Your subject knowledge or more general presentation skills?”
Don’t get flummoxed by impossible questions Sarah Archer is a career coach and co-founder of CareerTree: “Some employers will ask crazy questions such as, ‘How many golf balls can fit in a school?’ With these, there is no wrong or right answer. They are interested in how you think, what logic you apply, how comfortable you feel about approaching unusual concepts and articulating how you arrive at the answer. “If you want to prepare for these types of questions, get a friend to ask you some and try out your answers so you become accustomed to answering ‘impossible questions’ even if you don’t know which one might come up.” Paul Glover is a consultant at ReThink Recruitment: “If your interviewers ask a weird question, such as, ‘How many red wine drinkers are there in London?’ they look for the approach you take, rather than your final answer. For example: ‘There are six million people in London, and in my social circle half drink red wine. So, by that logic, about three million people drink red wine.’ They may want something more in depth than that, but it’s the logic that counts.” Be enthusiastic Paul Glover: “It all comes down to demonstrating lots of enthusiasm, and showing your experience. Enthusiasm is demonstrated by asking intelligent and intuitive questions, and going that extra mile in terms of preparation and research. Don’t just look at the ‘about us’ section of a website – use other methods to research them as well.” Hannah Morton-Hedges runs Momentum Careers Advice: “Smile. It’s such a small thing that makes such a big difference. Most recruiters offer jobs to people who, not only can do the job, but are likeable. So, in your interview, be someone that you would want to work with.” Declaring health issues is a personal decision Lisa LaRue is a career coach at CareerWorx: “The best policy is to be as open about your situation as you feel comfortable with – and only when relevant. You don’t have to divulge details about health conditions. If your condition has meant there are gaps in your CV, you could mention you suffered an illness that kept you out of full-time employment. Perhaps you did some casual or volunteer work in that period, or brushed up your skills? If so mention that too. “Generally, I would advise against going into detail about your disability unless you feel it will impact greatly on your ability to do the job. If this is the case, think about what kind of work would suit you best. For instance, if you would find it difficult to cope in a high-pressure, fast-paced environment you could seek out a less-pressured job in a less-challenging environment.” Don’t dwell on your weaknesses Ravi Soni is a careers adviser for the National Careers Service: “Interviewers often ask what you think your weaknesses are. Remember that the interview process is all about selling yourself, so it’s best not to go into a full list of your weaknesses. It’s fine to mention just one weakness. Think of a weakness that is not going to be considered absolutely essential to the job in question. Then turn a negative into a positive: if you say you are not good at something, tell them what you’re doing to address the issue.” Prepare questions for the end of the interview Hannah Morton-Hedges: “When your interviewer asks if you have any questions you’d like to ask, you risk asking the same thing that 90% of other candidates have. Turn it round to the interviewer and try to gain an insight into the company through their own experiences. For example, you could ask: ‘What have you enjoyed most about working for this company?’ or, ‘What has surprised you most about working at this company?’ If you’re a little uncomfortable with making it too personal, you could focus on the challenges the business faces, such as: ‘What do you think are the biggest challenges that the company/department is facing, and how could this role play a part in providing a solution?’ “Another option is to use this part of the interview to overcome any hurdles that your application may be facing. ‘Is there anything in particular about my skills and experience that concerns you, with regards to my application?’ It can work really well as a way of ironing out any misunderstandings or assumptions about prior work experiences that may have been formed.” This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To get more content and advice like this direct to your inbox, sign up for our weekly update and careers ebook.
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