Job Interview Etiquette and Mock Interview Questions
Congratulations! You’ve got an interview! The hardest part of the recruitment process is over! Now you’re worrying about what the job interview etiquette is and you’re not looking forward to those tough interview questions and answers.
Yes, the job interview process can be daunting – you have high expectations and you may feel bamboozled with some of the terminology like:
- what are competency based interview answers
- what are structured interview questions or
- what is a competency based interview?
Just take a deep breath, and prepare yourself. If you know yourself and your skills, and have pre-prepared well, then the whole process won’t be quite so daunting.
Tips for Job Interviews
In preparing for a job interview, make sure that you have all the information that you need at your fingertips. Have your resume or curriculum vitae (CV), your cover letter, the job description or information that you used to apply for the job and the ad itself.
Look at the requirements of the job again. Pull out the specific competencies or skills that the recruiters are asking for (see Checklist of Transferable & Hidden Skills to assist you with this). Make sure you have examples written down to match each of the core competencies that they are looking for. Having these examples ready will really assist you in the interview process. The My CV Writing Skills Checklist can also be a really useful tool for you to take into the interview as it should actually outline all of the skills or competencies that you have gained throughout your working life, and it will have prompted you for examples of where you have used these skills, along with the outcomes you achieved.
Typical Interview Questions
In a traditional or typical interview, you will be asked a series of questions which have straight forward answers. Typical interview questions will ask you how you would behave in a given situation and tend to be more theoretical. Some of these might include:
- what are your strengths and weaknesses
- how would you learn a new skill quickly
- what do you think are components of good team work
- what do you think makes a good written report
You won’t know what sort of interview you will be going to unless the recruiter actually gives you an outline of what to expect before the interview. It pays to be prepared for all types.
What are Behavioral Interview Questions and Answers?
Behavioral interviews are based on the panel or interviewer discovering how the interviewee acted in specific situations in the past. The logic here is that the way we behave in past situations will predict how we will behave in the future.
Behavioral questions will often begin with:
- Tell us about a time when….
- Give an example of….
- How have you handled a difficult situation….
If you have prepared well with your examples, then these should not be difficult questions for you to answer. There is a way that you can prepare for these types of questions. It is called the STAR Interview methodology.
Behavioral Interview Answers Should Include The STAR Interview Technique
STAR stands for:
- SITUATION – this is the actual example. You will need to describe the situation in which you found yourself. For example: The situation was that I part of a team that had to deliver a project to multiple stakeholders on time and on budget.
- TASK – this is what needed to be done. For example: The tasks that needed to be completed included: determining the project plan, assigning duties to each team member, researching the components of the project, getting approval, writing a memo to the Board etc.
- ACTION – the action is what role or what steps you took in the situation to complete the tasks. For example: my role in the project was to manage the project management software, consult with the stakeholders through regular communication, report their concerns back to the project manager and ensure reporting requirements were met.
- RESULT – the result is what was the outcome as a result of your action? For example: the result was that the team worked well together and even though the timeline had to be extended, we were able to deliver a quality product on budget and all stakeholders were happy.
Be prepared for follow up questions that ask things like:
- What was your role in that example
- What was the outcome
- How did you achieve that
- What did you learn from that experience
- How have you applied that experience to another situation
Try to think that you are one of the recruiters and come up with some mock interview questions for the role yourself. Then try to answer these mock job interview questions using your own examples, skills and experiences. You may also find the Pass the Job Interview ebook series useful as it includes 100 different competency and non-competency based questions.
Ask a friend to come up with some tough interview questions and then get them to actually mock interview or role-play with you. You need to pretend that this is the real thing for it to be useful. It won’t be any help if you get angry with your friend, or you both burst into laughter. For this reason, choose a friend who will take the situation seriously and actually add value to the process.
You may be interviewed by one person, two people or by a panel. Often you will find a panel interview situation for government job interviews or larger private companies. The panel will normally comprise of the supervisor of the area, possibly a Human Resources representative and another person who will work with this role. Don’t be daunted – just be prepared for it.
Job Interview Etiquette
Job interview etiquette covers a range of things:
- What to Wear to a Job Interview – the consensus is to dress appropriately for the role e.g. if it’s an office job then office attire is required. If it’s a position for a chef then perhaps dressy casual may be more relevant. If in doubt do some research on the company or just ask the person who invites you for interview. We will go through some of the requirements in more detail in a later article.
- What to bring to a job interview – as outlined above, make sure you at least take your resume or CV, the job description and all of your other preparation materials. Ask the person scheduling the interview if they require you to bring work samples or copies of qualifications etc. It’s better to ask than to be unprepared.
- How to greet the interviewer – generally offering to shake hands with the interviewer and the panel is a recommended practice. Make sure you smile even though you may be petrified, and try to be upbeat and happy.
- How early should you turn up – a general rule of thumb is to make sure that you are there at least 10 minutes prior to the time you have been asked to arrive. Do everything you can not to arrive late. That said, if you are running late due to an emergency or traffic etc, make sure you have the contact number of the interviewer with you and a charged phone and contact them to let them know that you are running late.
Interview Coaching Services
There are professionals who can provide you with interview coaching services and they are generally human resources experts specializing in recruitment and selection. They will be able to assist you to prepare yourself prior to an interview, give you sample interview questions and even do a mock interview with you.
Pass the Job Interview
Pass the Job Interview is an interview guide that leads you step by step through the interview preparation process including how you research the company that you have applied to and how you should prepare yourself. The guide covers different forms of interview including telephone interviews and how body language can affect your interview. Included are 100 top competency and non-competency based questions that will allow you to prepare some responses before you actually get to the interview.
Ever wondered what questions to ask the interviewer and what are considered appropriate question? Well, this guide will cover those as well. Plus, as a bonus offer, you will get “The Group Interview Guide” and “Pass the Psychometric Test”. These ebooks contain all the information you need to both prepare and ace the job interview.
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