Tag Archives: how to interview

Unemployed – Interview Techniques – Behavioural or Competency Based Interviewing

Interview Questions
Image by MattHurst via Flickr

STAR Stories for Optimum Success

An earlier post explained how to build your STAR stories. When faced with a Behavioural or Competency Based Interview they will serve you well.

What is Behavioural Interviewing?

Behavioural or Competency Based Interviewing is a style of interviewing that more and more organizations are using in their hiring process.

This is based on a belief that the most accurate predictor of future success is past performance in a similar situation.

So this form of interviewing is based on your experiences, the way you behave and your knowledge, skills and abilities.

Traditional interviewing questions ask you general questions such as “Tell me about yourself.”

But behavioural interviewing is much more probing.

How do Employers go about Behavioural or Competency Based Interviews?

Employers find the skills they think are necessary for the job and then ask questions to find if you have those skills.

For example, if leadership is necessary for a role, you may be asked to talk about an experience you have had as a leader and what you think makes a good leader.

In any interview you should always listen carefully to the question.

Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something.  It is better to do this than to jump in uncertain of what is needed.

How can you prepare for a Behavioural or Competency Based Interview?

When going for any interview, you should research the organization carefully. Then look at similar jobs in the same sector. You are trying to find the qualities required.  Remember to note at any qualities they mention in the advert or in the information pack.

Then find useful examples from your past and your CV/resume; times when you have demonstrated the behaviours you think the organization may be seeking.

During the interview, your responses need to be specific and detailed. Tell them about a particular situation that relates to the question, not a general one.

Outline the situation, what you did specifically and the positive results that followed.  Be certain to show clearly what you contributed.

Remember your STAR stories. Your answer should include the Situation, Task, Action and Result.

The STAR Method

  • Situation: give an example of a situation you were involved in that resulted in a positive outcome
  • Task: describe the tasks involved in that situation
  • Action: talk about the various actions involved in the situation’s task
  • Results: what results directly followed because of your actions

Interview Questions

Typically, the interviewer will then ask questions to get to the specific qualities they seek.

Sometimes this is called “digging a well.”

The interviewer may ask you open-ended questions to allow you to choose which examples you wish to use to illustrate a particular quality. They will then ask you very specific follow-up questions. For example;

  • How did you reach that conclusion?
  • How did you manage that meeting?
  • How did handle that senior manager?

Wherever you can, be specific.

Quantify your results! Numbers illustrate your level of authority and responsibility.

Be ready to explain difficulties and how you handled them.  What did you learn when things started to go wrong and how did you bring things back on track.

Good preparation and work on your STAR stores should make you feel much more confident about handling this kind of interview.

But I would welcome comments from others about their experience of these kinds of interviews.

I will be very happy to answer any questions you have.

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Writer. 

She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement
  • wanting to do a mid-life review

You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

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Preparing for the job interview – let’s think about values

Is it really the time try for an Oscar?

So you’ve landed a fantastic job interview.

It’s a great organization and the role you’ve always wanted. You have the experience and you have the qualities they say they need. But can you convince the panel that you are the one they want.

Will they think you will fit in? Now, don’t dismiss this out of hand thinking that demonstrating the right competencies will be enough.

They may never write it down or confess it to you, but their view of your “organization fit”, your compatibility with the organization’s values and their mode of operation, will influence the panel.

Note; I’m not talking here about discrimination on grounds of race or sex, although I do think age discrimination is often an element.

Job interviews and assessment centres give organizations lots of opportunities to find out about you and your values, and whether they think you will fit in. So do reference checks!

How can you prepare to make the right impression?

Well, in my view you, unless you are an actor at Oscar standard, it really isn’t wise to try to fake it! Nor do I think faking it is ethical – but that is something for you to think about.

Before the interview, as part of your research into the company, look at what they stand for and where they are likely to be on the moral issues of the day. Next spend some time thinking about your own moral compass and what you stand for. Then determine whether you are truly a good fit!

If not, then think very seriously about how much you want this particular job and what it really means to you! Clashing values can lead to lots of frustration on both sides.

When you have made you assessment and committed to the interview, think about how to articulate who you are and what you stand for – how to make your values clear in what you say.

I am Wendy Mason and I work as a Personal Development Coach, Consultant and Writer I work with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement

I am very good at helping you sort out what you want, overcome obstacles and handle change.   Email me at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com for more information

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Preparing for the job interview – let’s think about values

Is it really the time try for an Oscar?

So you’ve landed a fantastic job interview.

It’s a great organization and the role you’ve always wanted. You have the experience and you have the qualities they say they need. But can you convince the panel that you are the one they want.

Will they think you will fit in? Now, don’t dismiss this out of hand thinking that demonstrating the right competencies will be enough.

They may never write it down or confess it to you, but their view of your “organization fit”, your compatibility with the organization’s values and their mode of operation, will influence the panel.

Note; I’m not talking here about discrimination on grounds of race or sex, although I do think age discrimination is often an element.

Job interviews and assessment centres give organizations lots of opportunities to find out about you and your values, and whether they think you will fit in. So do reference checks!

How can you prepare to make the right impression?

Well, in my view you, unless you are an actor at Oscar standard, it really isn’t wise to try to fake it! Nor do I think faking it is ethical – but that is something for you to think about.

Before the interview, as part of your research into the company, look at what they stand for and where they are likely to be on the moral issues of the day. Next spend some time thinking about your own moral compass and what you stand for. Then determine whether you are truly a good fit!

If not, then think very seriously about how much you want this particular job and what it really means to you! Clashing values can lead to lots of frustration on both sides.

When you have made you assessment and committed to the interview, think about how to articulate who you are and what you stand for – how to make your values clear in what you say.

I am Wendy Mason and I work as a Personal Development Coach, Consultant and Writer I work with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those;

  • looking for work
  • looking for promotion or newly promoted
  • moving between Public and Private Sectors
  • facing redundancy
  • moving into retirement

I am very good at helping you sort out what you want, overcome obstacles and handle change.   Email me at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com for more information

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How to answer questions in an interview!

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When you are looking for work, getting an invitation to an interview is wonderful, particularly right now.  It is an achievement!

Now you need to prepare for the next stage – time to start thinking about questions you might get asked.

First, remember to keep a balanced approach!  The panel want you to succeed.  There is nothing recruiters like better than to have the candidates they select for interview, do well.

You will probably be asked a range of different kinds of questions.  Some may be simple to answer and others much more challenging;  tough questions are not asked to make you feel uncomfortable but they are meant to test you.

Sometimes, you may be put under pressure just to see how well you cope with stressful situations.  If you have applied for a high pressure job then you should expect this!  So stay calm and show them how well you would cope.

Many interviewers start the interview with “getting to know you” factual questions about your experience.  These are usually intended to put you at your ease and help you give your best.

You may well be asked why you applied for the role and you need to prepare a credible answer.  It should show you have some real interest in the organization and in the role.

Also, you may be asked why the organization should hire you.  This is your opportunity to set out your wares.  Again prepare for this.  You should make sure your answer is compatible with your application form.   It is often wise to check your application form just before the interview – just to make sure you keep your answers consistent.

You may be asked why you left your last position.  Be honest but have a care – it is never wise to be critical of a previous employer. The same thing applies, if you are asked to describe your worst boss; again have a care and give a balanced view.  Show how you have learned from experience!

If you are asked about your weaknesses, be honest and be brief.  Concentrate on a minor shortcoming that doesn’t have a profound effect on job performance.  For example, I mention that I have a tendency, in my enthusiasm, to over commit and take on too much work.  But I go on to explain that I’ve learned to pace myself.

If the role has a management or leadership element, you may be asked for an example of something you handled well.  Have some challenging examples ready to quote.

In general, where you can, use your experience in your answers as evidence of what you bring with you.

If you are asked what you are looking for in a role, have an answer ready that shows a real taste for the work and some enthusiasm.

If you are asked what you are looking financially, ask what the salary range is for the position. But be ready in case you aren’t given the information you need. Read salary surveys, government data and association reports in advance so you have an idea of what comparable jobs pay right now. That way, you can give a response that’s in line with current standards.

Remember in all your answers to treat the panel with respect; stay calm, polite and do not patronise them.

Whatever questions they ask, stay away from politics and religion in your answers!

When they are asking questions, listen carefully and take a deep breath before answering – think before your speak.  If there is something you don’t understand, then ask for clarification.

At the end of the interview, you will probably be asked if you have any questions.  These days you are expected to say yes.  Have something prepared about the role and how it might develop.  Again show a real interest in this role, these people and this organization.

Above all remember that the interviewers hope to see good candidates.  They will be willing you on to do well.

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 

Share

How to answer questions in an interview!

SVG version of the apps/edu_languages icon fro...

When you are looking for work, getting an invitation to an interview is wonderful, particularly right now.  It is an achievement!

Now you need to prepare for the next stage – time to start thinking about questions you might get asked.

First, remember to keep a balanced approach!  The panel want you to succeed.  There is nothing recruiters like better than to have the candidates they select for interview, do well.

You will probably be asked a range of different kinds of questions.  Some may be simple to answer and others much more challenging;  tough questions are not asked to make you feel uncomfortable but they are meant to test you.

Sometimes, you may be put under pressure just to see how well you cope with stressful situations.  If you have applied for a high pressure job then you should expect this!  So stay calm and show them how well you would cope.

Many interviewers start the interview with “getting to know you” factual questions about your experience.  These are usually intended to put you at your ease and help you give your best.

You may well be asked why you applied for the role and you need to prepare a credible answer.  It should show you have some real interest in the organization and in the role.

Also, you may be asked why the organization should hire you.  This is your opportunity to set out your wares.  Again prepare for this.  You should make sure your answer is compatible with your application form.   It is often wise to check your application form just before the interview – just to make sure you keep your answers consistent.

You may be asked why you left your last position.  Be honest but have a care – it is never wise to be critical of a previous employer. The same thing applies, if you are asked to describe your worst boss; again have a care and give a balanced view.  Show how you have learned from experience!

If you are asked about your weaknesses, be honest and be brief.  Concentrate on a minor shortcoming that doesn’t have a profound effect on job performance.  For example, I mention that I have a tendency, in my enthusiasm, to over commit and take on too much work.  But I go on to explain that I’ve learned to pace myself.

If the role has a management or leadership element, you may be asked for an example of something you handled well.  Have some challenging examples ready to quote.

In general, where you can, use your experience in your answers as evidence of what you bring with you.

If you are asked what you are looking for in a role, have an answer ready that shows a real taste for the work and some enthusiasm.

If you are asked what you are looking financially, ask what the salary range is for the position. But be ready in case you aren’t given the information you need. Read salary surveys, government data and association reports in advance so you have an idea of what comparable jobs pay right now. That way, you can give a response that’s in line with current standards.

Remember in all your answers to treat the panel with respect; stay calm, polite and do not patronise them.

Whatever questions they ask, stay away from politics and religion in your answers!

When they are asking questions, listen carefully and take a deep breath before answering – think before your speak.  If there is something you don’t understand, then ask for clarification.

At the end of the interview, you will probably be asked if you have any questions.  These days you are expected to say yes.  Have something prepared about the role and how it might develop.  Again show a real interest in this role, these people and this organization.

Above all remember that the interviewers hope to see good candidates.  They will be willing you on to do well.

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 

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How do I get a job? The Interview – what to wear!

According to Kim Zoller at Image Dynamics, 55% of another person’s perception of you is based on how you look.

So, yes, of course it makes a difference what you wear to the interview.

Like so many other things you do to get work, dressing right needs research and preparation.  You need to research the organization you are hoping to join.

In general it is best to dress conservatively.  Even if that means in some organizations, for example in the Arts, you will choose smart casual.  Smart casual means what it says, smart, neat and, for an interview, keep it mainstream.

For most organizations, it will be best to keep to smart office wear; a suit in one dark colour with a coordinated blouse or shirt in a light colour – white if you can wear it.

As for shoes, for women keep to a dark court shoe with a moderate heal and for men go for dark socks and professional shoes. Ties with logos are best avoided – again be reserved.

Go for a limited amount of jewellery and neat, clean hair. Nails need to be clean and manicured.  Go lightly with the scent/aftershave.  If someone on the panel starts to sneeze they certainly will not be concentrating on you.  And that is the secret; you want the panel to concentrate on you, and on what you are saying and not on how you have dressed.

It should go without saying that your clothes should be clean and freshly pressed.  If you have to travel a long way to get to the interview then consider using a suit bag and changing nearby.

If you do need to eat and drink in your interview clothes before the interview then do so with care and make sure crumbs are brushed off.

If possible leave travel bags outside the interview room.  If you carry anything into the room it is best for it to be a portfolio or a brief case and make sure you can get access to a clean tissues just in case, in all the tension, your own nose starts to run.

Just like most other things you do to get a job, dressing for the interview is about research and preparation.  But dressing well and appropriately really will help with your confidence on the day and it will certainly help you make your best impression.

Related articles

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439  

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So you have an interview – how will you make your mark?


So at last you have that letter in your hand inviting you to an interview – more likely these days you’ve just received an email.  You are elated at first – isn’t it great they want to see you!

Oh it is great, but then you start to think about what is ahead.  How are you going to make the most of it?

Hmm, it can make you quite nervous can’t it thinking about how you are going to handle it?  Well, that is quite normal – just like the best actors, most of us suffer from performance nerves when we are going for interviews.  But just like those actors, if you have done your preparation, your research and your practice, you’ll be fine.

It is really important to take time out to prepare.  Most employers will be interviewing multiple people for each job.  At least one other person besides you is likely to be able to meet the employer’s requirements.   They will have the right experience, be presentable in appearance and sociable enough to navigate through the interview without serious mishaps.

The real trick is to distinguish yourself, by appearing more acceptable for the job than is absolutely necessary. One of the best ways to do this is first to do some research and then ask questions during the interview.

You should research the organization well beforehand. Don’t get caught out showing ignorance about what they do, or where the organization is positioned among its peers.

You can look at their website and you can even ask for corporate literature or information. Both the Internet and library searches of newspapers may be helpful.

If the business is local and public, consider stopping by before the interview.  You may be able to walk around or take a guided tour.  If it is further away, they may be happy for you to talk to one of their managers by phone ahead of the interview.  Asking to do so shows that you have a real interest in them and you are not just up for anything.

The amount of research you do will, of course, depend on the job and salary you hope to get. But, if possible, do find out as much as you can about the job itself.

If you are seeking an opportunity in an organization you know well,  you may be able to start a casual conversation with someone in the department the job is in. They may have inside information on why the job is vacant, or what exactly the interviewer is looking for. But handle this carefully!

Interviewers will usually be impressed if you show you know pertinent facts about their company during the interview. And it is always a good idea to make that question you ask at the end (you are almost always invited to ask questions) relevant to that organization and the job in particular.  Again it shows a real interest in them and their job.  The interviewers will feel that you are actively interested in the position, and it will reinforce the feeling that you are very knowledgeable in your field.

When the candidate asks well informed questions this subtly raises the interview relationship from one where you alone are being judged, to one where you are on an equal footing with the interviewer. While this is purely psychological, it is a powerful tool in interviewing and again can mark you out.

Watch out for more here about interview technique over the next few days.

Related articles

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439  

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