Interviews and tests
If you are getting to the interview stage it means that you have identified suitable career options that match your skills, knowledge and qualifications
It also means that your CV is working for you and that you are completing application forms effectively.
Before the interview
Well prepared is well performed. Effective preparation means that you will come across as confident, articulate and knowledgeable. More importantly, good preparation helps you manage your nerves and shows to the employer that you really want the job.
Research the organisation and the context of the job
This is a key phase of your preparation for an interview. An employer will expect you to want the job you are applying for and one way of showing this is by demonstrating that you have fully researched the work area. Have there been any major developments in the organisation recently? How might any changes in the external environment effect their work? Has the organisation just launched a new business strategy? It is also worth reading the company's Equal Opportunities Policy.
Reread your application
Interviewers will have copies of your application and so it is important that you know exactly what you have told them. They may ask you specific questions about activities and achievements that you have mentioned and will expect you to be able to talk confidently about them. Going back through your application again also helps remind you about the key skills and competencies that you want to highlight in your interview.
Who is interviewing you?
This can be vital to preparing for the rest of the interview. Are you going to be interviewed by the line manager for the role or someone from HR or an agency?
Think about what questions you might be asked.It is easy to predict some questions that you will be asked.
- You may be asked to tell the panel a little about yourself and why you think you are the person for the job.
- Be prepared to talk about how you do things, as a blind or partially sighted person.
- Be prepared to address any problem areas in your work history such as long periods of unemployment, too many short-term jobs, etc.
- It is likely that there will be a question on equal opportunities.
- Preparing answers is one of the best ways to boost your confidence in an interview.
Plan some questions to ask at the end of the interview
Having already completed some research about the organisation you should have some idea of the projects and developments that they are involved with. It might be useful to plan some questions around this. Asking questions can also give you the opportunity to show the employer where your priorities lie which may be an asset, for example asking about training provided as part of a role shows you are interested in developing within the job role. You could also consider some more general questions, such as asking the interviewers what they like about working for the organisation.
Arrange any adjustments
If you require any adjustments at the interview or for any test, make sure you let the employer know in plenty of time. You should also check the day before the interview that everything is in place.
Plan your journey
If you are late for an interview you are very unlikely to get the job. You need to arrive 10-15 minutes before the start of your interview. Plan the journey in advance, know what transport you need to catch in order to make it in time and then get the bus or train before it. If you are unable to check the location out beforehand make sure you leave enough time in case you cannot find the right building straight away.
Making a good impression
It is important that you put a lot of effort in to how you dress for an interview. A potential employer will begin to form an impression of you from the first moment they see you. Inappropriate clothing will mean that they are thinking negatively about you and this could jeopardise all the important preparation that you have done for the interview.
Be on time
Planning your journey will ensure you arrive in good time.
At the interview
As soon as you arrive you should behave as though the interview has started. Sit up as straight and as attentively in the reception area as you would in the interview room.
In the interview room be polite, courteous and respectful. Thank the interviewers for seeing you. Sit up and appear interested, alert and enthusiastic. Be positive; you have been successful in achieving an interview when others were not. Smile and look at the person to whom you are talking. Listen carefully to the questions and think before answering. Ask if you don't understand and re-start an answer if you make a mistake. If you are using any equipment, it might be a good idea to explain to the employer how it assists you as it is a good demonstration of how you could use this to aid you in the work place.
It is also important to end the interview confidently. This will be the last thing that an employer remembers about you so you should try to be positive. For example you could say "I have been really impressed by what you have told me about your organisation. I really feel that it would be the type of environment that I could succeed in".
Dealing with specific questions
The following is a list of questions that you might be asked at an interview. Underneath each one there are some suggestions that you may like to use to prepare your own answer.
Why do you want to work here?
- It will give you a chance to do the work that interests you.
- Good reputation of the company.
- Good training opportunities.
What would you like to be doing in five years time?
- Explain that you would still like to be working for the company, but have developed within it.
What are your weaknesses?
- Describe aspects of your last job that you found hard and how you overcame these difficultie.
What makes a good team member?
- Good communication.
- Flexibility and Adaptability.
- How you demonstrated the above in previous work or activities.
How long have you been out of work?
- If you have been out of work for some time, try and be positive. Describe any job search, voluntary work, training or leisure activities that you have been involved in.
How do you manage your deadlines?
- Prioritising and Planning.
- Communicate any difficulties.
- How you demonstrated the above in previous work or activities.
What is your experience of providing information to others?
- Have you produced leaflets, written content for a website, organised an event?
- Sign posting others or giving advice.
- Use examples from a work, social or educational setting.
Scenario based questions
You may also be asked some scenario based questions, you need to relate your answer to specific events from previous work, education or leisure. Some examples of these might be:
- Tell us about a time when you have gone above and beyond your duties
- Give us an example of when you have had to resolve a customer complaint
- Tell us about a time you had to work in a team to solve a problem
You can use the STAR approach to describe these. Here is a reminder of the STAR approach:
- Situation - how, when, where, with whom?
- Task - what situation or task you were faced with?
- Action - what action(s) did you take?
- Result - what results did you achieve/conclusions did you reach?
After the interview
Confidence comes from practice and preparation. Even if you do not get the job this time, hopefully you will have learned some things for your next interview.
After the interview, reflect on what went well and what you could do better next time. Consider what you learned from the experience. You should always ask for feedback on your interview and application, as this helps you highlight things you did well and things you need to prepare more effectively next time.
Tests at interview
Some employers use formal tests when recruiting people for jobs. They are particularly helpful for employers when they wish to narrow down a large number of applicants. Typically they are used in graduate recruitment or to test certain abilities such as typing, working to a deadline or constructing a letter. The following document contains more information on tests.
For more information about interview technique, and other advice to help you in your job search, the following factsheet may be of use:
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