Company profile Logica has 40,000 employees providing business consulting, systemsRead more
So you’ve been invited for interview…Whether it’s a telephone interview or face to face there are ways you can prepare to ensure you represent yourself in the best light possible and land that dream job. Here are some tips to prepare for the following different types of interview:
A telephone interview is usually the first part of the interview process and is generally aiming to ensure that there is enough common ground between your skills and experience, and the requirements of the position, to warrant both you and the company spending time on a face to face conversation. These can be tricky because you can’t use the interviewer’s body language to give you any clues as to how you are getting on, and it can be difficult to build rapport.
The best preparation is to establish exactly what the interviewer will be questioning you on, before the call happens. Ask what the format will be and how long they expect you to be speaking for. Are they planning to ask you generally about your background or to test you on your specific knowledge ? Will the call be mainly about you, or a chance for them to tell you about their vacancy ? Your consultant should be able to guide you on this.
Always feedback immediately after the conversation has finished so that all the information is fresh in your mind and you can convey exactly what was spoken about and if you felt there were any issues or problems during the interview. This way you can address any issues with the client before they raise them, which could mean you divert any potentially negative feelings that could result in you being rejected unnecessarily.
Hopefully, you have wowed them at the telephone interview stage and now you are booked in for a face to face interview. This is your chance to really shine, as well as find out if the company and position are really right for you.
Again preparation is absolutely key. Who will you be meeting ? What is their position ? What format do they expect the interview to take ? Will there be written / verbal tests and what will these be testing ?
Before you go, do your research. Spend a serious amount of time reviewing their web site – a cursory glance will not be enough. Look at industry accolades and recent news. Find out who works there, and where they joined them from. Has anyone spoken at an industry event or had an article published ? Who are their main competitors ? All these types of things could generate conversation and allow you to ask some really insightful questions, as well as reassuring the interviewer that you genuinely really want to work with them.
From a practical point of view:
Also known as Behavioural, Situational or Evidence Based Interview. In a nutshell the aim of these is to measure your ability against a set of ‘core competencies’ that the client has established are essential to a position being fulfilled to the required standard. They are used to give insight into a person’s preferred working style, and can also help to predict behaviours in future situations. In most cases the questions are standardised so a company can measure all interviewees against the same criteria.
The company will have identified what competencies are required and at what level, and will create behaviour based questions to allow you to describe a time when you demonstrated that capability.
It will be a more systematic process with each question designed to target a specific skill or competency. For example, if an interviewer wanted to test your ability to deal with stress, they would ask you how you generally handles stress, and follow this by asking you to provide an example of a situation where you worked under pressure.
The competencies you may be assessed against will vary dependant on the type and level of role you are being interviewed for, however these are the more common areas for assessment:
Within these competencies there may then be different levels of competence, which are usually broken down into stages:
Stage One: New to an area or project, and is still somewhat dependant on the guidance of others.
Stage Two: Knowledgeable about the area and able to carry out their work largely without supervision.
Stage Three: In-depth knowledge of an area and is able to coach, advise and lead others even if they are not in a management position.
Stage Four: Impacts on their organisation through leading the performance of others either directly or indirectly.
To establish whether you have the skills required for a position, the interviewer will ask you questions that allow you to evidence times where you were able to demonstrate the required competencies, often starting with ‘Tell me about a time when….’ or ‘How do you ensure that you……’.
Your responses will then be evaluated against a pre-determined set of positive and negative indicators. Where there might be areas of concern they will ask you further questions to try and identify whether these are ‘deal breakers’.
As with all interviews the key to success is preparation. Try to identify the core competencies that the position would require, and think about scenarios where you have had to use these skills. Be prepared to explain what actions you took and what impact these had on the outcome of a situation. Your consultant should be able to assist with this so ask them for as much information as you can about what the hiring manager really wants from a prospective employee.
Psychometric tests aim to objectively measure aspects of your mental ability or your personality traits, to establish how well you are likely to cope in a particular role. They are usually conducted alongside face to face interviews to give the interviewer insight into how you prefer to work, how you handle pressure and where your strengths and weaknesses may lie. They can indicate how well you work with other people, how motivated and enthusiastic you are and give a general idea as to how well you might fit into the employer’s culture.
There are two main types of psychometric test – aptitude (ability) tests and personality questionnaires:
Aptitude Tests – are designed to assess your logical reasoning or thinking performance. They are timed tests conducted under exam conditions They may be paper based or online, and usually consist of around 30 questions.
Your scores will be evaluated against a predetermined set of results either from a group of people of a similar age and background, or from a cross section of people matching a specific criteria.
Personality Questionnaires – aim to quantify your personality traits by asking you about your feelings, thoughts and behaviour. You will be presented with statements describing various ways of feeling or acting and asked to answer each one on a scale or as a true/false answer. For example the statement might be ‘I like to be the centre of attention’ and you would need to select an answer on a scale between ‘Strongly agree’ and ‘Strongly disagree’.
Some companies may request that you deliver a presentation or case study on a given topic. You will usually get several days or more notice on what the subject is, and some guidance as to what format they would like the presentation to be in.
Again, the key to delivering a successful presentation is to be well prepared. Find out as much as you can about what format the presentation will take:
Find someone who you can rehearse with, and go through your presentation as many times as it takes to be able to deliver it without relying heavily on your notes. It can be an idea to record yourself so you can listen for mistakes or areas of hesitation. Ensure that it runs to the time you have been given – overrunning will count against you.
On occasion you will be presented with a case study in the interview itself and be expected to work towards a solution, presenting this back along with your rationale behind your decisioning. This format of interview is more typical in management consultancies, they’re often numerically orientated to test your critical analysis skills and ability to break a problem down into its various factors, rebuilding it to a logical solution.
We’ve included some links to test case studies to help you prepare for this kind of interview here:
On the day, make sure you have back-up paper copies in case technology fails you, and try not to let nerves get the better of you. Ask for a glass of water so you can avoid ‘dry mouth’ and be ready to admit it if there are questions you can’t answer. No-one is looking to catch you out, and everyone prefers honesty.
If you’ve been invited to meet the team it’s a great sign that they think you could be right for the position. It’s rare that an offer is not forthcoming after this, but you could still put your foot in it so don’t be too laid back about it.
Before the meeting try and find out as much as you can about the people in the team. Any common interests would be a great conversation starter ! It would be useful to know where they worked previously so you can discuss why they moved, and how that aligns with your reasons for wanting to join.
Be prepared for them to ask you lots of questions. They’ll be trying to get a feel for the ‘real’ you so they can judge whether they think you would fit into the team.
Be honest, modest, open and friendly, and try and spend time with everyone if you can.
It’s also a great opportunity for you to size up your potentially new colleagues, after all you’ll have to work with them too. So have some questions for them – but try and keep them positive and not too personal.
And if you meet in the pub – it sounds obvious but don’t drink too much ! Being nervous can mean even a glass goes to your head and you want to ensure you stay focussed and make the right impression.
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