How To Prepare For A Job Interview

The current economic climate means that it is essential for you to prepare fully for your job interview. It is highly likely that you will be up against many other candidates at interview and therefore, it is crucial that you cover the following three elements during your job interview preparation:

1. Appropriate research.

2. Interview technique.

3. Responding to the interview questions.

If you follow the above preparation strategy, and job interview tips that are provided by Richard in this video, your chances of success will increase dramatically.

Job Interview Tips: Video Transcription

Hello there. Welcome to “How to Prepare for a Job Interview”. My name is Richard McMunn, and I’m from the company During this presentation I’m going to teach you the most effective methods of job interview preparation. Now, I fully understand how difficult it is in the current economic climate to not only get an interview, but once you get there, to actually pass it and get offered a job.

I hear many stories of people coming to me and saying that, “I don’t even get invited to interview” or “When I do get invited to interview it all goes wrong and I don’t get offered the position”, and there’s usually a good reason for that. If you follow this three step job interview tips process that I’m going to teach you today then your chances of success will increase dramatically.

Now the good news is, you only have to learn this once because you will be able to apply it to every single interview that you go to in the future. Okay, so let’s get started. The method that I teach you is based around preparation. Now obviously if you prepare for something effectively then your chances of success are going to greatly increase.

How to prepare for your Job Interview

If you think of a professional golfer, somebody who’s really really good at golf; they don’t just turn up to the tournament, to the golf course and then play a brilliant round without preparing for it. Obviously, you don’t get to see all the preparation that goes into it, but they put in many many hours of practice before they go to the tournament. And it’s very similar going to interviews. If you put in the preparation before you go to interview, and you do the right amount of focused preparation, then your chances of success will greatly increase.

This is the kind of preparation that I always teach people and what I’ve used in the past to great success. It’s basically splits up into three key areas. The first one is in relation to research, the kind of research you carry out. Now you don’t have to carry out hours and hours of research, probably half an hour at the most. But we’re going to research the company that you’re applying to join. We’re also going to research the job description and the person specification for the role that you’re applying for. That is very very important guys and I’ll teach you why it’s important as we progress through the presentation.

If you research the person specification and the job description then you can actually predict the kind of interview questions that you are going to get asked. And that is a great tool to have when you go to an interview. Not thinking, oh, what questions am I going to get asked? You will have a good idea of the types of questions that you are going to get asked if youfollow this route.

The second part is interview technique. I’ll talk a little bit about interview technique and the truth is that this only comes with practice. Okay, so you can carry out a mock interview. I’ve done this before. I’ve sat in front of a mirror and I’ve pretended responding to interview questions and I’ve been looking at my overall interview technique. And it really does help you improve your skills and your confidence. Finally, responding to the interview questions. And I bet I’ll give you some really important tips and advice on how to respond to any kind of interview question.

So let’s have a look at research. Now I mentioned earlier about the job description and the person specification. Two different areas that you need to research. The JD and the person specification and also the company. Okay, so let me just close down this screen. What we’ll do is we’ll get up a sample job description and person specification. Now this is for a customer service assistant. So it’s a standard job, but there are lots of customer service assistant jobs out there at the moment.

It doesn’t matter what role you’re applying for, but my tip is to get hold of a document like this. So if you’re going to interview, there is more than likely going to be a description of the role that you’re applying for, and/or a person specification. So, you know, I don’t want to insult your intelligence, but basically the job description describes the job, and the person specification is the specification, the quality and attributes, and experiences that are required to carry out the role.

So I’m going to have a quick read of this document and go through it and explain how I would use a document like this to help me prepare for any kind of interview. So it says there that “We are looking for someone who is passionate about retail. Focusing on the customer and striving to understand them better than anyone. Driven to achieve results through determination and commitment. Committed to treating people in a fair and consistent way. Willing to roll their sleeves up to get things done. They are determined to respond energetically to customer feedback. They are motivated to work in partnership with others. You’re adaptable and flexible and you are devoted.”

Now you’ll see on this form that I’ve highlighted certain key words. And I would encourage you to do that. When you get a hold of the job description and the person spec, get a hold of a highlighter pen and go through the document and highlight key words. Because you’re going to provide examples of where you’ve been passionate in the past. You’re going to provide examples of where you’ve been motivated; of how adaptable and flexible you are. Because if you look at this document, and let’s take this one: adaptable and flexible to thrive in a 24/7 business.

It is quite likely that the interviewer will say to you, “Can you give us an example of when you’ve been flexible and adaptable in a previous role?” Okay, I can virtually guarantee that question would come up at an interview for this role. So obviously that gives you the chance to prepare for that kind of question, come up with a sample response when you provide evidence. Within your job you will need to perform the following tasks. So maintain excellent store standards. Now that’s a kind of interview question that you could get asked. Give us an example of where you’ve maintained excellent standards in work.

Achieve customer service target levels. So they may say at your interview, “Can you give us an example of the best type of customer service that you have witnessed or you have carried out in the past?” Dealing with customers in a friendly and positive manner?” Again, that could be another interview question. “Why do you think it’s important to deal with customers in a friendly and positive manner?” And obviously, the reason why you should do that in this kind of role is because customer will then come back to the store, they will tell their friends and peers, and therefore it increases business for this store.

Ensure compliance with food safety standards, give us an example of where you followed standards or compliance orders in a previous role. Deal with small disputes and customer complaints in a constructive and positive manner. So you’re probably going to get asked at that interview, “Can you give us an example of when you’ve dealt with a customer complaint?” Detect and prevent shoplifting. Carry out duties of a check out assistant where applicable, and issue exchange and refunds brought to the cs, customer service, desk.

So, that is just a brief document, but if you go through the job description and person specification and highlight the different key areas, these are the qualities you’re going to need to have in the role. So if they say to you at the interview, “Okay, welcome to interview. Tell us a little bit about yourself.” Then, if I was you, I would be saying these words, “I’m a passionate person. In a customer service role I will always focus on the customer and I’ll strive to understand them better than anybody else.” I would be using these key words, because they’re directly lifted from the document that the company has created. And if you look at the bottom part, these are the kind of questions that you will get asked.

Prepare for your Interview

So, follow that process that process when you’re researching the organisation. Get the job description and the person specification, highlight the different key words. And trust me guys, it will really really help you to improve your performance at the interview. Then you’re going to research the company. A lot of this can be done by going on the website of the company that you are applying to join. Look at their history and their culture. So when they say to you, “Tell us what you know about our company”, you can give a little bit about the history. You don’t need to know a lot about it, but well, the company was started in x year and this is your culture. This is what you base your services on.

Who are the key people? Just try and find out who the top people are. Who is the chief executive officer, the CEO, or the managing director. What services do they offer? Because it’s quite conceivable for them to say to you, “Okay, what services do we offer as an organization? Are there any matters of interest?” And when I say matters of interest, have they won any awards, do they operate any kind of scheme? Maybe an Investors in People for the people that they employ. Look at their different matters of interest. Where do they operate from? They may have stores nation wide or they may be just a small organisation. But find out where they operate from and also the different areas. Where is the head office? That kind of thing.

Also, try and find out their values or the mission. And if the organisation has a value or a mission statement, learn it. So if the company says to your interview, “Tell us about our company.” You can say, “Well, I am aware that you have a mission and this is what it is.” That means that you’re learning about that organisation. If you follow this kind of research then your chances of success will greatly increase at the interview. And don’t forget, get a highlighter pen, go for the job description and the person specification and you will be able to identify the qualities that are required to carry out the role effectively, and also predict the interview questions

Now, interview technique. So how do you dress for an interview? Well, of course, it goes without saying, unless told otherwise, you should dress smartly and formally. I think it’s very important. I’ve seen people turn up for interviews looking quite casual. Some people have turned up in trainers. And whilst I wouldn’t judge anybody on the fact of what they’re wearing, it tends to sometimes put me off. And I think, if you can’t really make much of an effort coming to interview, then how much effort are you going to put into the role.

So, you know, little things like cleaning your shoes, making sure you look smart and presentable, ironing your suits or your outfit. Whatever you’re going to wear. But think carefully about the role that you’re applying to join, and you can borrow a suit off somebody if you can’t afford to buy one. And just dress generally conservatively. I’ve had people turn up in interviews before wearing white suit white suits with cartoon pictures on their ties. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, But we’re going to an interview here. This is serious. We want to get this job, so let’s make sure that we dress smartly, and appropriately, for the role we’re applying for.

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So, how do you present yourself? Well, I would say the interview technique starts before you actually get into the interview room. So, let’s say that you’re invited to a company headquarters, say, for example, or the company store. Be on your best behaviour when you turn up, straight away. So, you know, walk through the door, look smart, introduce yourself to the receptionist staff if there are any there and be polite. You know, say “Hello, nice to meet you. My name is Richard. I’ve come here for the interview.” When you’re sat down in the reception area, you don’t have to sit up straight and rigid, but make sure you present the kind of image that you want to put across. So start creating a first, positive impression.

Now, when you walk through the interview door, and you’re invited through the door, be polite. Stand up straight, look smart; and also smile as well. You know, smile at the panel. Walk in, introduce yourself. So, I would knock on the door. I’d walk through. I’d say, “Hello, nice to meet you. I’m Richard, I’m here for the interview.” And so, get yourself off on the right foot straight away. Be polite. Be respectful to the panel as well.

When I walk into an interview room, I won’t sit down in the interview chair until I’m invited to do so. It’s just good manners. So, they’ll sit me down, and then I will sit upright in the chair, and I’ll just rest the palm of my hands on top of my knees. And I’ll try not to fidget. Okay, now I use my hands quite a lot when I’m expressing myself. That’s okay, but I will make a conscious effort not to fidget, because it can become a distraction during the interview.

How to prepare for your interview

Let’s say there’s three people on the interview panel. When I’m talking to them and communicating and responding to the questions, I will look at the person who’s asking me the interview questions, I will nod, and I will demonstrate good communication skills. By nodding, listening to what they’ve got to say. When I’m responding to an interview questions, I will talk to all of the interview panel. So I’ll look at each of them individually, and take it turns as I’m responding to the interview question. And that’s basically involving all of the interview panel.

When I’m looking at them, I won’t stare them in the eye. But I will communicate looking at their face because that demonstrates a good level of confidence. And I will also speak up, and I will try and speak concisely. Now, if you’ve not been to an interview for a long time, I mentioned earlier on at the beginning of this presentation, that I like to sit in front of a mirror and respond to the interview questions; and I would encourage you to do that. It might feel a little bit uncomfortable, but if you sit there in front of a mirror, you will have a good idea of how you will come across at interview.

I would also encourage you guys to get a friend or a relative or your partner to ask you sample interview questions. So sit down in your front room and get them to ask you interview questions. And try responding to them. Simple questions, like, “What’s your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Why have you come along to the interview today? What do you know about the organisation? What do you know about the job that you’re applying for? What can you bring to the role?” Get them to ask you those kind of interview questions, and you will certainly develop a better level of confidence before you go to the interview. Okay, so that’ a little bit about interview technique.

Now, responding to the interview questions. Which is again very important. I always use a star technique when creating my responses to situational questioning. Now situational questions are questions where they say to you things like, “Can you give us an example of where you’ve carried out effective teamwork?” “Can you give us an example of where you’ve worked to a tight deadline?” You have to give evidence of where you’ve been in a specific situation. Because, of course, anybody can sit there at interview and go, “Yeah. I will work very well in a team. I can work to deadlines. But actually backing it up with evidence is another thing. So I would encourage you to think about the kind of situational questions that you can derive from the person specification, job description and then start to prepare your situational responses. So give them evidence, as much evidence as possible.

I mentioned about eye contact, so look at the member of the interview panel, because this will demonstrate a good level of confidence. So what is the star technique? Well, it’s quite well known in interviews, and it’s a great way of formulating your responses. So before you go to the interview, grab a sheet A4 paper. Write at the top of the sheet of A4 paper your perceived interview questions.

So like I say, it might be, “Can you give us an example of where you’ve carried out effective teamwork?” You will then put down the side of the A4 piece of paper, S-T-A-R for star. You will start off and you explain what the situation was that you were involved in. You will then move on and explain what the task was that was set for you. What task did you have to carry out or achieve? You will then go on and explain what action you took and what action other people took to help you to achieve the task. And the final thing that you tell the interview panel is the result. Tell them what the result was following your actions.

Okay, and the key tip is to try and make sure that the result is a positive outcome. Okay, so if you follow those three important key areas in respect of preparation then you won’t go wrong when preparing for any kind of job interview. Thank you very much for watching.

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Here are some top job interview tips!