How to nail the interview!

Congratulations! If you are reading this you are at the interview stage of the recruitment process! Or assuming you will get through – a little confidence is a good thing!

Sit back, bask a little, enjoy, you are a winner!

Done? Good. Now it’s time to shape up for the next round. The all important round, it’s time to seal the deal. It’s in your grasp – all you have to do is prepare, prepare, prepare.

There are many types of interviews, from the free flowing to the formal, but one that you are likely to come up against is the competency-based interview.

This type of interview is designed to make the job application process as objective as possible by asking each candidate the same questions with each response graded.

The competency based interview is not there to trick you but to help the interviewer understand if you have the skills they need and also allows them to assess how you would react in a given situation.

When answering a competency-based question, keep in mind that an interviewer is looking for a beginning, a middle and an end in the answer. It should tell a story without giving too much information and without saying too little. It should not prompt the interviewer to explore more questions within the question. A technique commonly used that should help you feel confident that you are providing the right kind of information is the STAR technique. 

The STAR Technique

The STAR Technique allows you to structure a scenario-based question into four sub-headings, ensuring you tell a story with every answer. These are: 

Star Technique

  • Situation: Brief explanation of the situation
  • Task: What were you tasked to do?
  • Action: What action did you take to ensure that this was achieved?
  • Result: What was the result?

Examples of competency based questions are:

  • How do you prioritise work?
  • Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
  • Describe a time you dealt with conflict with a colleague and how you resolved it
  • Tell me about a time you have made a decision in the workplace
  • Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.

Try to prepare some answers around the above questions – and then practice your response. If you can, ask a friend to interview you.

In addition to the competency based questions the interview panel might throw in some stock traditional type questions such as:

  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • What would your current boss/partner/best friend say about you?
  • Why should you get the job?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years time?

It's important to remember that it’s likely you won't know what type of interview will take place until you are sitting in the interview room.

So, prepare answers to traditional interview questions and competency based questions and practice the star technique to answer questions.  

Also refresh your memory and consider some special situations you have dealt with or projects you have worked on.

You may be able to use them to help frame responses and have five projects/examples you can reference to help you answer any question.

Prepare stories that illustrate times when you have successfully solved problems or performed memorably. The stories will be useful to help you respond meaningfully in a competency based interview.

Make sure you review the job description it will give you a sense of what skills and characteristics the employer is looking for and reread your application – it will remind you how great you are.

Plus don’t forget to ask them some questions as well. Remember an interview is a two-way process. Yes, you have to sell yourself but the interview panel need to sell the organisation to you.  So prepare at least one question. 

Finally go in and be yourself – you are ace and they will be lucky to have you.

It’s show time – walk in and smile! Go get that job!

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