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Interviews: Frequently Asked Questions

career cenre
Preparation for your interview is time well spent. If you need advice on preparing for your interview below are some of the frequently asked questions.
If you have an interview coming up or haven’t had one for a while it's worth knowing that organisations use different types of interview for different types of jobs.

Some of the most common types of interview are:
These interviews focus on the skills and attributes needed for the job. You'll have to relate your skills and experience to the job in question during the interview process.
For positions such as IT Jobs or engineering jobs you will probably be asked to display your technical knowledge of a certain process or skill. They may ask you to do this by talking about your previous experience or by asking you hypothetical questions, such as "what would you do if you were working on this project?"
This is where the interviewer meets with the candidate in person.
There are some organisations that use these as the first stage of screening. You may be warned in advance or contacted out of the blue so try to be calm and speak clearly. If you are in an area with a lot of noise such as a pub or by the side of the road try to quickly find a nice quiet spot to carry on. First impressions count, so you should prepare for a telephone interview just as much as you would for a face-to-face interview.
This is an interview where more than one person interviews you. Usually, one person chairs the interview and panel members take it in turns to ask you different questions. You should direct your answer mainly towards the panel member that asked the question.

A job interview is your chance to show an employer what they will get if they hire you. That is why it is essential to be well prepared for the job interview. Preparing means knowing about the industry, the employer, and yourself. It means paying attention to details like personal appearance, punctuality, and demeanour.
Negotiating a salary
For some jobs (usually in the private sector) where a salary is not stated, you may have to negotiate. This will usually happen when you are offered the job.
Here are some tips:
  • Ask what the salary range is for similar jobs in their company
  • Use a job search engine such as Check4Jobs to look at similar jobs and what they are paying.
  • If you are asked what salary you are expecting aim in a little higher. Always be assertively and never dither.
  • Be prepared to negotiate.
  • Never ask about salary or benefits before you’ve been offered the job though.
Towards the end of the interview you usually get the opportunity to ask your own questions. You should always ask at least one question to show your enthusiasm.
Some examples are:
  • Can you describe an average day?
  • What training can I expect?
  • Ask about something you read about on their website or company literature.
  • Who will I be working with and how many are on my team?
  • Where does my position fit into the organisational structure?
  • How do you see the role developing in the future?
  • When will you let me know the outcome of the interview?
You may face difficult questions if you are applying for a promotion or going for a career change. As a general rule you should only apply for jobs you can do and have the necessary skills. Sometimes it isn’t always necessary to have a complete skill set as you may be able to learn on the job.

In most cases however you will have to show that you have the potential to develop these skills.

You can do this by describing situations when you have:
  • Been given additional responsibilities
  • Been left in charge of a team or department
  • Displayed this skill on an informal basis either in our out of work.
For example, if you're applying for a job as an ambulance care assistant, you will know that for this job you will need to know how to carry patients and secure them in the vehicle. You could mention how you've done this with small children or elderly relatives, so you are aware of the need for safety.

If you have no related experience like this to call on try to describe how you would act if you were placed in this situation. For example, if you had to deal with a difficult customer you could explain how you would approach the situation by staying calm, being polite dealing with their problems efficiently and professionally.

Explain how you approach learning new skills, and that you are a keen and efficient learner. You may also score points if you describe how you handle tasks that don't play to your natural strengths. This shows you are willing to be adaptable and take on tasks that don't come that naturally to you.
It is very important to prepare for interviews. The night before the interview you should not put in too much work and try very hard to relax and get a good night’s sleep
If you were made redundant as part of a general reduction in the workforce then be honest about it. If you were fired for misconduct or not fulfilling your responsibilities as laid out in your contract you will need to deal with this differently.

There is no harm in admitting to occasional failings if you show that you have learnt from them. For example if you lost motivation and became lazy describe how you intend to stay motivated in future. If you breached company policy you could say you were going through personal or financial problems at the time, but that now they are resolved.

Your references will need to check out. If your last boss fired you, and you have to list them as a referee then phone them up to try and clear the air. Tell them you understand why they had to fire you but you have used this experience as a steep learning curve and that you are now looking for a fresh start.
Being out of work for a long time will always give a reason to interviewers to knock you back. You must point out any positive activities you've undertaken during your period of un-employment such as:
  • Volunteer work.
  • Training courses.
  • Keeping up with developments in your market and industry sector.
  • Treating job hunting as a full-time job.
  • Keeping active
  • Networking
A good way to get round this is by telling the interviewer you were waiting for the right opportunity, such as the job being offered right now!
Make sure you give a positive reason for leaving your last job role. A good reason is to say that you wanted a fresh challenge. Reflect positively on your time in your previous job by describing how you developed in the role and say you were grateful for the opportunity your last employer gave you.

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