HOW TO PASS AN INTERVIEW
Created by the UK’s leading interview expert
It is standard practice to ask certain questions at an interview and therefore well worth preparing answers to these in advance. You should also try to think about other questions the interviewer might ask you based on the position itself and your application. In this article we will provide you with some useful tips on how to pass interviews.
The questions asked at the interview will cover areas such as yourself, the job you have applied for and, possibly, specific technical questions about your chosen subject. Some of the following questions may not be relevant if you are applying for your first job after qualifying from university or leaving school.
You may be asked a question at interview that completely throws you.
If water has been provided, take a sip to give you some thinking time. Stay calm and try to think about why the interviewer has asked the question and what are they looking for in you.
Never underestimate the power of a sense of humour but be careful – not everyone finds the same things funny. If you make the interviewer or interviewers laugh they are likely to remember you. It is possible that your interviewer will become your colleague if you are appointed and this is something they are unlikely to forget!
TIPS TO FOLLOW WHEN ANSWERING QUESTIONS:
- Always try to be yourself as adopting a different persona is likely to come across as insincere at the interview.
- Honesty is always the best policy. If you don’t know the answer to a question say so rather than making something up. Also, lying about previous achievements or experience is always likely to come back to haunt you if you get the job.
- Try to lead the interviewer towards areas of your experience that you want to talk about. Capture their interest and ensure you pause during your answers to give them a chance to expand on their questions.
- Avoid yes/no answers at all costs and try to support your answers with specific examples from your experience. Try to avoid talking too much otherwise you may be in danger of talking yourself out of a job
- Focus on your strengths and successes wherever possible, but remember the interviewer will want to know that you can also recognise your weaknesses and devise strategies to resolve them through ongoing learning and development of your skills. If you have not had much work experience, you can always use examples from things you do outside of work or university e.g. voluntary work, hobbies etc.
- Many job adverts include details of a salary range for the vacancy in question. However, quite often the question of salary and other employment issues will be discussed towards the end of the interview. One way to raise the subject is to ask how your experience and skills will be recognised in the new role.
- Quite often you will be asked at the end of the interview if you have any questions. If possible hold back one or two that could have been asked during the interview for this purpose. If you have not been told during the interview it is always a good idea to ask when you will be told the outcome of the interview.
- If you do not get the position, you can contact the company and ask for feedback on how your interview went. This is great way to refine and improve your interview technique.
- Whenever possible, end the interview on a positive note even if it is only to thank the interviewers for seeing you.
HOW TO PREDICT THE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Is it really possible to predict the interview questions? The answer is yes. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1 – Get a copy of the job description and person specification for the role you are applying for.
Step 2 – Grab a highlighter pen and ‘highlight’ the key requirements for the role.
Step 3 – You will now be able to predict the interview questions based on the key requirements for the role. For example, if one of the key requirements for the role is ‘an ability to respond to customer complaints quickly and efficiently’, the predicted interview questions for this key element are:
Q. Provide an example of where you have dealt with a customer’s complaint from start to finish. What did you do and why?
Q. What is the process for dealing with a customer’s complaint?
Q. What considerations would you take into account when dealing with customers complaints?
By following the above process you will easily be able to predict the interview questions for the role you are applying for. In order to make it easier for you I will now provide a practical demonstration using a job description for a sales manager. To begin with, take a look at the following job description:
JOB DESCRIPTION: SALES MANAGER
As a sales manager with our company you’ll be organising and leading a team of sales representatives. You will also be responsible for a particular type of product or customer and be in charge of a particular geographical area.
YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES WILL INCLUDE:
• Setting sales targets for individual reps and your team as a whole, according to company guidelines.
• Recruiting and training sales staff.
• Allocating areas to sales representatives.
• Developing sales strategies and setting targets.
• Monitoring your team’s performance and motivating them to reach targets.
• Compiling and analysing sales figures.
• Dealing with some major customer accounts yourself.
• Collecting customer feedback and market research.
• Reporting back to senior managers.
• Keeping up to date with products and competitors.
HOURS AND ENVIRONMENT
Normally, you’ll work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, you may have to work longer when necessary and there will be some weekend work as and when required. You’ll be office-based, but also spending some of your time visiting customers, head office, and your sales team in the field. You may also need to attend conferences, trade fairs and exhibitions.
SKILLS AND INTERESTS REQUIRED FOR THE ROLE
• Excellent sales and negotiation skills
• The ability to motivate and lead a team
• Initiative and enthusiasm
• Excellent communication and ‘people skills’
• Good planning and organisational skills
• The ability to work calmly under pressure
• Good IT, budget and report writing skills
• A full driving licence
• Foreign language skills are increasingly useful.
From the above document job description we can easily predict the types of question we will get asked at the interview. Here’s a list for you:
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS TAKEN FROM THE JOB DESCRIPTION
Q. Give an example of where you have successful led a team through a project or brief.
Q. Provide details of any managerial experience you have to date.
Q. Have you ever been responsible for a large team or geographical area? If so, what challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
Q. Give examples of when you have set targets for members of a team and how you went about monitoring their progress.
Q. How would you carry out target setting for a member of your team?
Q. Describe a time when you had to carry out a performance appraisal for a member of your team?
Q. What qualities does an effective team leader require?
Our comprehensive interview workbook will teach you how to pass an interview and will also supply you with 50 sample interview questions and answers.
Q. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and why you are interested in this particular area of science?
Q. What made you apply for this post / job?
Q. What things did you enjoy most about university / school?
Q. Why are you leaving your current job?
Q. What particular qualities do you possess that would help in this job?
Insider tip: Try to avoid vague answers to these questions, for example when asked about why you became interested in the particular branch of science give examples of something specific that sparked your interest, talk about someone who inspired you etc.
You may also decide to visit the UK Governments website on how to prepare for interviews at www.direct.gov.uk.
Q. Tell us about your previous experience and how it is relevant to this role.
Q. Please describe any major achievements over the past 2 years, either in your academic career or outside university / school.
Q. You may be asked to describe a particular laboratory technique relevant to the job, e.g. describe the principles behind gas chromatography.
Insider tip: Be prepared for questions on any major scientific issues e.g. stem cell research which may have been in the news recently. If possible, relate it to a recent article you have read in a professional journal. When interviewers ask this type of question they are looking at your knowledge of topical scientific issues and events.
Our comprehensive interview guide will show you how to use your time effectively, dramatically increasing your chances of success.
Remember that in the majority of cases you will be asked interview questions that are directly related to the role that you are applying for so make sure you prepare fully.
Topics and information included within this guide include:
HOW TO PASS THE INTERVIEW AND INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
- Overcoming interview nerves and answering the interview questions.
- How to relax during the interview and essential interview tips.
- Having a Plan B at the end of the interview.
- Preparing follow-up letters.
- How and where to network.
- Effective communication skills.
- Interview questions to ask the panel.
- What not to ask the panel.
- How to avoid the common interview mistakes.
- What to say at the end of the interview.
- Effective introductions for interviews.
- The interview structure.
- Interview questions and answers.
- How to prepare psychologically.
- Proving that you want the job.
- What areas you should research.
- What areas you shouldn’t research.
- Structuring a post-interview letter.
- Essential insider tips and advice for passing.
Contains sample answers to 50 of the toughest interview questions!