Interviews carry a level of expectation and pressure that demand detailed preparation. Appropriate and intelligent preparation is a key to your success.
General Advice and Common Pitfalls
- Provide specifics and justify your relevance – a general question does not necessarily mean that the interviewer is seeking a general answer. Questions can be intentionally broad to give you the ability to share a specific achievement or example. So while you may start your answer with a general statement to illustrate your broad understanding of a topic (i.e. change management), quickly follow it up with a clear and concise example to demonstrate your expertise.
- Be clear about your role in achieving an outcome – it is critical that you do not over-state your role when relaying your experience. Whether it be a change-management project or day-to-day general management, it is important to highlight YOUR contribution including any initiatives you contributed or actions you took. Acknowledging the contribution of your colleagues will demonstrate a team-based approach.
- Avoid negativity – complex and extenuating circumstances may surround your decision to leave an organisation, but be very careful about how you express them in your interview. Be frank but not derogatory. Too much negativity will not reflect well on you with potential employers, who are interested in how you will fit and potential impact within their organisation. Try to present events objectively without getting too personal or using inappropriate language.
- Identifying your personal brand – your personal brand and value proposition have become increasingly important with employers in recent times. Defining you is not as simplistic as it first seems. It goes straight to the heart of what potential employers are trying to identify – will you be a good cultural fit! So identify what constitutes your personal brand to give yourself the best possible opportunity to succeed in an interview with your chosen organisation. Be true to your brand and don’t waver from it, otherwise no how appealing the potential role is, if you personal brand is compromised when you commence with an employer, it will not be a long-term success.
What to expect – interviews can take many forms, ranging from an informal conversation to several formal meetings. There are four-five main types of interview questions that you may be asked. These are as follows:
These questions ask you to provide an example of a time where you behaved in a certain way. They are designed to give the potential employer an idea of how you could act in the future, based on your past. It is important to be able to provide some examples of some key positive experiences in your career that you are particularly proud of and highlight your strengths.
- Example: “Describe a time when you showed initiative in the workplace.”
Situational questions are similar to behavioural questions, but are more focussed on you may deal with certain situations. The STAR (Situation/Task/Action/Result) method of answering is the most common and appropriate way of framing your response.
- Situation – describe a situation you and/or your organisation was in
- Task – describe what you decided to do
- Action – describe what you actually did
- Result – describe the outcome of your actions and how it benefited you/your staff or organisation as a whole.
- Example: “How would you manage a staff member who was not working constructively within your team?”
Competency based questions focus on identifying and drawing out multiple examples of you have exhibited particular management, technical or behavioural traits or competencies. The interviewer is looking for examples of past behaviour that demonstrate the competencies necessary for success in the role.
Core competencies relevant to more senior roles may include change management, strategy, governance, commercial acumen, process improvement, team building and performance management.
To prepare for such questions, revisit your CV and group relevant achievements by competency. Then use this information to create a succinct answer that you can use in your interview to demonstrate your successes in each competency area (using the STAR method).
- Example: “What are your strengths?”
Employers are keen to identify whether you would be a strong cultural fit within their team. They will ask questions that allow them to get a good understanding about you as a person rather than from a technical perspective. To assist in responding to these question, use positive feedback received in performance reviews or from colleagues or clients.
- Example: “How would your colleagues or (for a management position your team members) describe you?”
These are not always the easiest question to answer but are equally important. It is critical that you have an understanding of your worth but also what is the value of the position. The latter may be easy to determine through the advertisement or, as appropriate, talking to the recruiter or human resources representative of the organisation. However, if that does not result in a positive response, do your research identifying the package for like positions within other organisations.
If you were happy with the remuneration from your current or previous position you may want to state that as a ballpark figure and go from there. Indicating a willingness to negotiate also puts the onus back on the potential employer to offer a package that you will be happy with for a reasonable period. There is no point stating that you would be happy to accept something less than what you are actually seeking, likewise overstating your expectations (especially if it is well in excess of the advertised package) will quickly provide potential employers a reason to exclude you from future consideration.
For more information about preparing and enhancing the results from your interview, please do not hesitate to contact us.