Having conducted, participated or been on the candidate side of an interview, it is fair to say that I have seen pretty much all I can see when it comes to an interview. I have seen candidates searching Google for answers whilst on the other end of a video conference and had clients calling me to say a CTO turned up to a final stage interview in a pair of jeans and t-shirt. One thing I do know, is you can never over-prepare for a telephone, video or face to face interview.
This document will go through all the different stages of an interview from telephone through to final stage panel interviews and assist with preparing for your discussions.
Practice Makes Perfect – Whilst I would never recommend to a candidate to take an interview just to practice their technique, I would advise applicants to participate in an interview if there is a relevance to what they do in their career. This will be good for;
Building a stronger network
Gaining access to unexpected opportunities
Do your Research – When planning for an interview, hopefully your recruiter has provided you with all the details and information that you will require. But don’t just rely on them to get you over the line. Take time to research the company by browsing through their website and speak to people in the industry you work in and see if they have a personal experience of that organization. Also, if you are able to retrieve the name of the Line Manager (Interviewer), take a look at their profile on LinkedIn so you can gain an understanding of who they are and where they have worked. You never know, you might have gone to the same University of have a common interest that will give you an added advantage or “break the ice”.
Have a Case Study or Story – Sometimes an interview can become very repetitive and monotonous and this is neither good for you or the Hiring Manager. So, when asked a technical question or years of experience in a certain area, try to use a real-life story of how you used that skill to complete a project/engagement/task and how it benefited your employer/client. It will help break the ice and allow the interview to turn into a conversation rather than an interrogation.
List your Achievements – Slightly different to a Case Study. A list of achievements can be related to educational qualifications to any personal accomplishments you believe will define your character and spirit that could be beneficial to a working environment
Be Courteous – As your parents used to say, “manners don’t cost you anything”. Simply thanking the interviewer for his/her time to conduct the interview shows good character and etiquette.
Prepare for difficult questions – To get to the motivations and working style of a potential employee, employers often turn to behavioral interviewing, an interviewing style which consists of a series of probing, incisive questions. Behavioral interview questions include:
Provide an example of dealing with a difficult Customer, Client, Line Manager, Fellow-Colleague. Tell us about the situation and what issues you faced. How did you convince that party of what you were trying to achieve was the right move? How were you able to win them over?
Describe a situation in which you didn’t meet your stated goal, how did you manager it?
Describe a situation in which you took the initiative to change a process or system and make it better, how did you identify the problem? How did you go about instituting change?
Your Previous Employer – Never speak ill of your previous or current employer, this will only provide the Interviewer with the idea that one day, you could criticize defame the reputation of him/her or the company . If you have encountered difficult managers or employers, try to find a way of remaining positive and in good faith. For example; if you left due to your company not paying you on time, simply explain, “unfortunately due to lack of business or market pressures, my employer was finding it difficult to pay its employees on time so we thought it was in everyone’s best interest if I looked for something more stable and secure”.
HR Questions & Interviews – Normally when you have reached the stage of a HR interview, it means you are on the right path to potential employment. However, this should not be a foregone conclusion. The type of HR related questions you are likely to experience will be;
Why are you looking for a new job?
Why do you want to leave your current employer?
Why do you want to work for our organization?
Where do you see yourself in the next 3 to 5 years?
What is your overall objectives in your career and what level do you want to reach?
What would you say are your strengths and weaknesses?
What is your current salary & benefits package?
What remuneration package are you seeking?
What is your availability/notice period?
What is your current visa status?
In addition to the above, HR are highly likely to run through your CV and find out why you left each company you were employed by.
A telephone interview tends to be conducted at the start of the process, normally the first step after the client has gone through the applicants CV. It could also take place at the end of the process if with HR to verify salary expectations, notice period etc. The most important tips I can provide are as follows;
Make sure the number you have provided is the most contactable, if you struggle for a phone signal try and provide a landline number to avoid any disruptions
Find somewhere quiet to take the call. There is nothing worse when you are interviewing an applicant and all you can hear is traffic or children screaming in the background
Have your skills, experience and achievements in front of you! If your Resource Consultant has prepared to thoroughly, you should be able to plan your material accordingly
Always let the Interviewer finish the question before you provide a response. Speaking over the person on the other end of the line will only infuriate them and see important topics overlooked
Take your time! Never rush your answers or try to reply back too hastily. Especially in the GCC, we have such a multitude of nationalities and accents that sometimes it can be hard to understand if spoken too quickly
A VC is normally conducted at a second or last stage, especially if the applicant is outside of the country and unable to conduct a face to face meeting. So with that in mind, it should be treated as if you were in front of a panel and communicating in person.
Make sure the Skype details you have provided or received are correct and that you have already connected with that interviewer prior to the call to eliminate any technical issues on the time of the call
Make sure you are in a quiet room where you shall not be disrupted with a strong LAN/WAN internet connection
Look smart. I would always advise wearing a suit, shirt and tie, looking cleansed and presentable. Just because you are not in the same room doesn’t mean your attire should be untidy.
Do your research! Please, please, please do not try and search on Google for answers whilst on the call! They can see you!
Face to Face
A face to face interview is always an opportunity to really “sell yourself”so conducting yourself at all times with the upmost professionalism is critical. First impressions count for everything in a face to face meeting and I always advise to treat this as if you were meeting a client or customer.
Here are some simple tips that can make the difference in an interview
Be on time! There is nothing worse than hearing from a client than an applicant was 15 minutes late or turned up the interview looking out of breath and sweating profusely (hard to avoid in the Middle East sometimes). Make sure you allow plenty of time to leave for your interview and plan out your route, make sure there is parking available etc.
The handshake – For men, in most cultures it is customary to shakes hands but in the Middle East, a man should not offer his hand to a Muslim woman as this can be deemed offensive. A simple gesture of putting your hand to your own chest is considered good manners.
Unless you design and develop video games, dressing smart for an interview is a MUST. For men, a suit, white shirt and plain tie is perfect (please no Homer Simpson ties) and for women, a similar attire that is not considered to be too revealing or showing the shoulders
How to end the interview – If possible, you should have been able to build a rapport with the interviewer or panel and hopefully feel more comfortable in their presence. Ask some softer questions such as below, it might leave a lasting impression and help you gauge how well you performed;
How do you find working here at (company name)?
How long have you worked here?
For new employee’s, what advice could you give about working here at (company name)?
What will be the next steps?
How quickly do you intend to close this position?