Interview Tips

Interview Purpose

A common misconception around an interview is that you are there only to be judged and analysed of your suitability within a workplace. Though this is only partly true, you must also remember you are there to judge and analyse if you want to become part of this company and the culture they are presenting back to you!

The most successful interviews come from mutual interest where you can both benefit from each other and mirror similar values. What a great way to test the waters before accepting a job offer! You have to admit, it wouldn’t be a great result if you didn’t agree with who and what they represent… just to get a job?! Therefor it is most important you don’t forget that an interview is as much for you as it is for your prospective employer. Now, that should ease some of your nerves and boost your inner confidence when going in for an interview…?!!

Scene Group are here to walk you through some of the processes and expectations that are upon us when being interviewed and how to get the most out of them.

Interview Styles

There are many styles of how interviews are conducted and can vary enormously from very casual and informal 20 minute chats to more formal behavioral based whether it be one on one or in front of a panel, to full day assessment centres run with a myriad of other contenders. All can be as daunting as each other and often you can be left with more questions than having answers. Hopefully with this information, you will have a clearer understanding of the mindset behind the interviewer so no matter what interview situation you find yourself in, you will be more comfortable and confident in getting the most out of it

From the onset; you must get these things right in order to start off with the best impression – first impressions are everything!

  • Preparation; research the company, understand their product or service offering, company goals and achievements. You will often get this information direct from their website and try googling them to see what else you can find
  • When being organised for the interview, ask up front what their interview process is and who would you be meeting. This should inform you immediately to the nature of how they conduct their business, making you prepared and ready. If you haven’t already got one, request a position description which will help you prepare further
  • Confirm who, where and what time you are expected and prepare your trip in advance taking into account peak traffic or public transport failures
  • Have some genuine interest questions ready, it could be about the company product or service, company goals and what they aim to achieve, what does their succession planning or internal structure looks like or even ask what staff turnover levels are and what retention methods they use. This gives you a great insight as to how they value their product, vision, staff and image – something you need to consider if you see yourself as part of or not – does it excite you?
  • Presentation; ensure you are neat, tidy, clean and present yourself in a way you would if you were already working for them. Ensure you are wearing appropriate clothing relevant to the work you do, are not chewing, gum, have your phone off, smile and maintain positive eye contact. We will go as far as saying, sit straight, keep your hands still – no fiddling and have an open mind
  • Ensure you arrive with some time to spare, don’t be too early – around 5 minutes is ideal
  • Be prepared to answer questions about your recent work experience, think of problems you found solutions to and how you came to the solution
  • Prevent asking about remuneration in the interview, your job is to sell yourself, give reasons they want to hire you, what you have to offer and to explore more about them rather than ‘what’s in it for me’ – usually a turn off to the interviewer. There will be plenty of chances to discover ‘what’s in it for you’, all in good time and where appropriate
  • Be honest, never lie or misconstrued the truth as it will always rear its ugly head! If you don’t know something, say so – ask more about it, get interested and inform if there is a way you can learn prior to commencing. This shows initiative and commitment, which can make the difference in hiring you over someone else. If you cannot see yourself working for them, be polite and say so diplomatically. Don’t waste unnecessary time for you both – it will be respected and could possibly lead you into other positions internally if it is the job itself that does not appeal
  • Thank them for their time at the end and leave with a smile whilst offering a further day/time you could be available to discuss this further, this shows positive interest regardless of what decision you will make in the end
  • Always follow up with a phone call within a week of your interview, again this shows initiative and commitment to the job and is always appreciated, however avoid pestering with constant calls/emails as this will deter them away from you. Show you are keen but don’t over do it, they are busy and may not be able to get back to you when you want so leave a polite positive message and wait for feedback

Interview styles

The informal chat; this is often the case for smaller businesses or time poor managers to get a first impression. Sometimes this is all they need as the dynamics of culture in its people and those coming into the business matter more. You have the power in these interviews to showcase yourself and what you can offer, express your interest – or not, and ask the questions. If the conversations are more casual, that’s ok, ensure your body language mirrors theirs and show your personality. Sometimes these interviews can be very rewarding as you get a real ‘feel’ of the person you could be working for and vise versa. Avoid being pushy or too formal as this will defy it’s purpose.

The one on one; A more common practice, you will first meet with either the direct manager, line manager or Human Resource Manager with subsequent interviews to follow with relevant managers and decision makers. You will meet at the business premises and have the opportunity to ‘feel’ the company culture surrounding the work place, this is a very important factor you should take seriously as it is important you actually enjoy working where you do and feel comfortable – to a degree anyway during interviews!

This type of interview will be your stepping stone to finding out more and of course showcasing what you can offer and your interest levels so make the most out of it! Show enthusiasm to meet the team or even take a tour, you may be asked to come in again for a second interview – it is worth having some further company insight to bring into that second interview.

The panel; This can be quite daunting, particularly if you are not expecting it! You will find these interviews are more formal and usually if not all, most interviewers will have a poker face making it hard to read how you are progressing! Take advantage of these situations as you are selling yourself to all who will matter to you if you are successful. Try to show some personality, regardless how they are ‘holding up’ and keep even eye contact and mutual level of interest to each interviewer.

The assessment centre; Usually quite casual, quick and expect some role playing with your competitors. These interviews can be deceiving as they are actually quite serious for the conductor who are seeking out those who can work in a team positively, and also identify potential leaders – those who rally others and take some form of control whilst maintaining mutual respect amongst your peers. Have fun with these as they can be very rewarding. Showcase your personality, seriousness about the message/job to be done and be creative – think on your feet and involve others is often the best way to handle these. Don’t sit back nervously and wait to be instructed the whole way through  and remember, you are all in the same boat, each and every one of your peers will be feeling the nerves so seize your opportunity and shine!

Types of questions typically asked; There are many and varied questions that can be asked, you are best to go in with an open mind. Rehearsed answers will not be your friend. Questions can be anything simple to behavior based where examples of your experience are required so your interviewer can gain a closer insight as to how you work. Some question examples may be;

  • Anything relating to your work history including experiences good and bad, how you handled difficult situations/problems and outcomes. Be honest as it shows. You don’t have to have the best result in your example what matters more is your thoughts and actions in getting to a solution
  • What tasks you have performed including technical levels
  • Levels of responsibility including if you have supervised or mentored others
  • What your own goals are, what you enjoy most and least and where you would like to be now and also in future
  • What you enjoy the most and why and what you least enjoy and why
  • How you have handled negative or problem colleagues and or customers, again providing examples of real experiences and outcomes
  • Thoughts on process improvement including examples of where you have tried to be more efficient
  • How you like or not working as part of a team or do you prefer to work autonomously
  • If and how you have met your targets and how you handle when they have not been met

You will never be fully prepared on what may be asked of you as everyone works differently. The best way you can go in is to back yourself up with examples of your actual experience and if you don’t have experience, say so and support your lack of experience with what you think you would do in such a situation. Be confident and give yourself some brief time to consider your answers before you speak. Your attitude will be rated more than skills.