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Interview Skills

What employers really want to know

  • What kind of attitude you possess
  • Everything about you that isn't on your resume
  • Is it just about the money?

Before the interview...

Preparation will help to calm the nerves!

  • Think about the skills required to do the job
  • Think about the type of questions they may ask you
  • Do your research on the company
  • Know where to go on the day, how long it will take, where to park and what to wear
  • Go to bed early the night before
  • Eat a decent breakfast or lunch prior
  • Be prepared for the different types of interview formats
  • If you get particularly nervous then try some deep breathing exercises - take a deep breath though the nose, hold for two seconds and release through the month. Repeat a few times, or try to think about something which makes you happy while you wait to go into your job interview -- it increases your sense of wellbeing and will result in greater confidence

First Impressions Count

An interviewer's impression is formed in the first seven seconds of meeting you

  • Firm handshake
  • Smartly dressed
  • Make polite small talk
  • Be clean and neutral

During the interview

  • Remember - Everyone is nervous at a job interview
  • Deep breathing
  • Only ever accept water to drink in the interview
  • Shaky hands - place one on top of the other and put them on your lap
  • Runny nose - take a handkerchief in with you
  • Show your interviewer that you are enthusiastic
  • Smile as frequently as possible
  • Keep eye contact at all times
  • Try and answer the questions in a precise and confident manner
  • Actively listen to the questions you are asked and allow your interviewer to finish them before you start answering
  • Don't be overly familiar

Different types of interview questions

  • Interviews normally comprise of:

    Overviewing your education and work history
    Competency questions
    Telling you about the role
  • Open questions - Why..., How..., What..., Describe...
  • Theoretical questions - What would you do...
  • Behavioural questions - Tell me about a time when...

Competency based interviewing
Competency based (or behavioural) interviews are based on the premise that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour. The questions relate to essential competencies required for success in the vacancy.

How to answer a competency based question
Use the STAR technique

 S/T -  Situation/Task
   A  -   Action
    R -   Result

Think back to your work history and identify specific examples (This is must in regards to good interview preparation)
Example Question & Answer
Give me an example of a very difficult customer you have had to deal with.

S/T: During the busy Christmas period last year, a customer came back with a used product and complained that she saw it on sale the day before for less than the price she paid. Her voice was raised, and there were other customers watching what was going on.

A:  I asked a colleague to help serve the other customers while I took this customer to one side and explained that our policy did not allow us to refund on used products. I also let her know that we offered a longer warranty period on that product.

R: While it wasn't the ideal answer she wanted, she accepted my explanation. Before she left the store that day, she actually came back and asked my advice on another product she needed to get.

After the interview

  • Ask questions
  • Where to from here?
  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time
  • If you have been given a business card, email and reiterate your interest

Commonly asked questions at interview  

  • Tell me about yourself
  • What is the biggest challenge you have faced to date?
  • What's your greatest strength?
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?
  • What do you know about our organisation?
  • What made you apply for the role with our organisation?

Examples of competency questions  

Analysing and evaluating information

  • Tell me about the last time you had to identify the key cause of a problem
  • Tell me about a time that you have needed to challenge another person's thinking to ensure they had considered all options

Communicating Orally

  • Give me an example of when you had to explain something difficult over the phone

Fact finding

  • Give me an example of when you had to be extremely careful when checking your facts&how did you probe the information?


  • Tell me about a project where you built in checkpoints and controls

Problem solving

  • Give me a recent example of when you came up with different solutions to a problem...what the others well did they work...

Quality orientation

  • Describe a time when you did not meet your usual standards for work&what alerted you to this&how did you address it?


  • Describe a situation in which you had to work under pressure?

Results driven

  • Tell me about the last time you exceeded your personal targets

Specialist knowledge

  • Describe an occasion when you felt that your level of specialist knowledge was insufficient...what action did you take?


  • Tell me about a time when you were in a team where something wasn't quite right...what did you do to improve the situation?

Time management

  • Tell me about a situation where you have had to do more than you thought possible in the time available