Just the Job: Thinking through your upcoming interview

Building on last week’s column on typical interview queries, here is another set of scenarios I regularly encounter when working with my clients, writes Deirdre May, Career Coach, Slí Nua Careers.

Q: When I am being interviewed by multiple interviewers at once, who should I look at when asked a question?

A: This question harks back to a time when virtually all interviews were face to face in a room, and I will deal it with in that spirit. A simple guide is to direct the early part of the answer to the person who asked the question – but, after that, look from panel member to member. Just because Panellist A asks the question, you cannot be sure that Panellists B and C are disinterested. Indeed, we cannot even be sure Panellist A is interested – they may just have been deputed to ask the question. It is not a good idea to exclude people from the conversation.

Q: I know someone who already works where I am chasing a job. How can I use this to help me get the job?

A: It can vary from organisation to organisation. It is no crime to know someone working there already – and it certainly is a good idea to show your knowledge of the company. Be careful not to reveal anything you should not know. Should you use the person’s name? That is a call you must make from interview to interview. Sometimes it is most certainly a good idea – in some companies, existing employees get a bonus for recommending somebody new who works out. For a variety of reasons, it might be a bad idea in other circumstances.

Q: When being asked to describe myself, what sort of information should I give?

A: This takes us to a guiding principle you should always follow: when given an opportunity to talk about yourself, offer insights that help to enhance your candidature. Talk about relevant skills, expertise, knowledge or contacts. To get a good handle on what constitutes relevance, think of the published job specification, plus any other insights you gleaned when preparing for the interview. The employer is interested in what you can bring to them. You capture their attention when you talk about things that relate to the job at hand. While the question may invite you to go off on a tangent, your answer should be quite focused and strategic.

Q: I can never think of anything to say when they ask, “have you any question for us?” at the end. What should I be thinking about here?

A: Ask a question that demonstrates some of your knowledge about the role, develops an important point raised earlier in the interview or gives you an opportunity to cover off something that you did not nail down earlier. This question would ideally open a conversation rather than just be a staccato question-answer type scenario. At that stage, you should be well into your stride and you should look on the invitation as an opportunity to score some more points. We have used the phrase ‘knowledgeable conversation’ a lot here in the past and this is a chance to finish the interview off in that vein.

Slí Nua Careers (www.SliNuaCareers.com) offer a full online service. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit www.slinuacareers.com

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