How to Prepare your Interview : Tips

how to start interview preparation how to prepare phone interview questions and tips prepare for job interview and how to prepare interview questions for freshers
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Dr.MattWood,United States,Teacher
Published Date:25-07-2017
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Interview Preparation Career Skills Team FME ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8IntervIew PreP aratIon Introduction This eBook is designed to help you prepare for a management-level job interview, whether it is for your first management job or you are trying to move up the management ladder to a job with more responsibility. Most management interviews contain a high proportion of behavioral or competency-based questions and this eBook concentrates on how to approach these, rather than more basic considerations like overcoming interview nerves or how to dress for an interview. Almost everyone will have had the experience of being interviewed even before they go for their first management job. It may have been an interview for a school or college place or an informal interview for a part-time job. If you’ve already been employed and you’re looking to move to another organization for some reason then you’ll already have been through the interview process and you’ll know more or less what to expect. If that is not the case then you may wish to read an introductory book on interviews before moving on to this one. Before getting down to the specifics of answering management interview questions there are some things you should do before you agree to the interview. As a bare minimum, you should look at the organization’s website, mission statement, and any promotional literature that you can find. Not only does this information help you to frame your answers in the interview, it can help you to focus on the culture and values of the organization and to decide whether or not they are compatible with your own. Following on from this, you need to be absolutely clear in your own mind that the job itself is right for you. If you put yourself forward for a job that doesn’t suit your knowledge, skills, and aptitudes then you are setting yourself up for a stressful and unpleasant interview. It’s perfectly OK to be ambitious and to want to stretch yourself, but if you apply for a job that does not play to your personal strengths then you will find yourself having a miserable interview as your unsuitability is highlighted again and again. Quite often, when someone has had a really bad interview, they blame the interviewers for being ‘asking the wrong questions’ and then following up aggressively when they didn’t get the answers they wanted. The truth is that the interviewers were asking the right questions, but the wrong person was answering them. Always do as much research as possible and make sure that you only apply for jobs where the organization and the job itself match your skills and abilities. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 4 IntervIew PreP aratIon It is also a good idea to check the trade press and the financial press, because the last thing you want to do is to take a job at an organization that is about to be go bust, be taken over, or have its funding slashed. This may sound obvious but many organizations carry on their recruitment operations as normal even when these things are about to happen. As a consequence, thousands of people every year find themselves joining an organization that is undergoing some sort of upheaval that leaves them either facing redundancy or doing a different job from the one they applied for. Most of the things that determine whether an interview is a positive experience or an ordeal are decided well before the interview itself and depend on what you do in the preparation phase. If you spend your preparation time poorly then you will have some bad experiences that will lower your confidence and make you increasingly stressed in future interviews. This can quickly degenerate into a negative feedback loop, in which you perform badly because your confidence is lacking, and this undermines your confidence still further. The level of competition for management roles is high so you want to pick those opportunities that you are best placed to win. This means taking the time to assess your compatibility with the role and the organization. You will then be able to focus on the opportunities where you are most suited to succeed. Ask Yourself the Capability– Can you do the job? ‘3C’s’ Commitment– Compatibility– Will you do the job? Will you fi t in? Being honest about your skills and competencies will help you select the opportunities that you are most suited to. Answering the ‘Three-C’s’ questions (Capability, Commitment, and Compatibility) can help you to judge your suitability for the role and the organization. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 5 IntervIew PreP aratIon Capability—Can you do the job? Do your skills, knowledge, and experience give you the capacity to fulfill the tasks required by the role? Does your track record support this? Do you feel confident in your own abilities? Commitment—Will you do the job? Do you have the motivation to do the job? Are you hard working and committed? Are you the kind of person who will do more than just what is in the job contract? Compatibility—Will you fit in? Do you feel positive about the organization and what it stands for? Do you share its values? If you find yourself at variance with your potential employer’s value system then you would probably be advised to look elsewhere. It is almost impossible to succeed in a culture that feels alien to you. Work Positive Opportunity experience answers to worth supports role all 3C’s exploring requirements Many interview books discuss these factors in terms of how to answer interview questions, and they are important in that context but you can save yourself a lot of grief by considering them carefully before you even apply for a job. Even if you believe that you are sufficiently capable, committed, and compatible, does your employment record support this view? This is an important point because the interviewer will be looking for evidence and if it does not appear in your employment record then you could be in for an ordeal when the questioning starts. All of the above should make you realize that it is a better strategy to restrict your applications to jobs that you are well suited to and where you do have a reasonable chance of success. It’s better to apply for a few suitable jobs and to prepare properly than to apply for dozens, prepare poorly, and hope for a lucky break. The first strategy will give you a high interview to application ratio, some good interview experiences, and hopefully ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 6 IntervIew PreP aratIon a job. The second strategy will give you a low interview to application ratio, some bad interview experiences, and you may even find yourself in the ‘wrong’ job. The quality of your preparation prior to an interview is the single biggest factor in making the actual event a positive and successful experience. It also ensures that you have done all you can to avoid accepting a role within an organization that is under threat of takeover or closure. KEy POINt S 4 Most of the factors that determine whether an interview is a positive experience or an ordeal are decided well before the interview itself. 4 The first step in preparation is to check that the role and the organization are a good match with your own skills, character, and values. 4 You can do this by looking at the organization’s website, mission statement, and promotional literature as well as the job ad. 4 It is better to apply for a few suitable jobs and to prepare properly than to apply for dozens, prepare poorly, and hope for a lucky break. 4 Applying for unsuitable jobs will almost certainly result in rejection before the interview or an unpleasant interview experience. Both of these outcomes will undermine your confidence. 4 In contrast, an interview in which you perform well can boost your confidence even if you are not offered the job. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 7 IntervIew PreP aratIon Preliminary Interviews It is not unusual for a job ad to result in hundreds of resumes being received. However, interviewing job candidates is expensive and time consuming, which means that most organizations need to limit the number of candidates they interview. The easiest way to do this is to go through the resumes one by one looking for anything that can disqualify a candidate immediately—for example, the stated qualifications do not match those on the job specification, or the candidate appears to have insufficient experience. Recruitment Process Place Job Advertisement Screen Resumes (Preliminary Interview) Interview This task is usually outsourced or delegated to a junior staff member, who may be given an hour or so to go through a pile of resumes with instructions to discard almost all of them. Unfortunately, this process is often both arbitrary and unfair because most of the people applying will be sufficiently qualified and experienced and yet all but a handful of applications have to be rejected at this stage. As a job applicant the only thing you can do to improve your chances of getting through this stage is to make sure that your resume is tailored to the job specification as closely as possible. Whoever is screening the pile of resumes is only going to spend 30 seconds looking at each one and unless the match between the resume and the job specification is clear then it will be discarded. There isn’t really much else you can do to influence the outcome of this process, which can become something of a lottery when there are a large number of applicants. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 8 IntervIew PreP aratIon Many organizations are aware of the shortcomings of this approach and opt to discard fewer resumes at this stage, which means that they are still left with too many candidates to interview properly. The solution is to give each candidate a short preliminary interview, something that can be outsourced and done over the phone in order to keep the costs down. Employment agency staff or someone from the HR department are often used to conduct these preliminary interviews, which tend to be fairly short and focus on clarifying items in your resume and making a subjective judgment about your communication skills and how well you will fit in to the organization. These interviews are often conducted outside of working hours and minimize the interference a formal interview would have on your normal working day. This is a good thing, but make sure that you schedule the interview for a time when you can give it your full attention. You don’t want friends, family, or children around during the interview because background noise and distractions can make you appear disorganized and unprofessional. If you do receive a call and the timing is poor, it is always best to ask for a callback ten minutes later, which will give you time to arrange things so that you can give the interviewer your undivided attention. Statements that would be quite clear when supported by facial expressions and body language can be ambiguous over the phone, because a telephone interviewer is blind to all of your nonverbal signals. This means that you need to think carefully about what you say, and answer questions in a straightforward manner. Remember to smile when you are talking, the interviewer will detect it in your voice and feel more positive about the conversation. Those individuals who come across well in phone interviews have good active listening skills and use them throughout the interview. Active Listening is made up of three components: reflection with clarification, listening orientation, and questioning skills. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 9 IntervIew PreP aratIon Clarifi cation is a mixture of: Refl ection & Direct Questioning to fi ll in gaps & correct misconceptions During any phone interview it is essential to clarify that your understanding of the question is correct. You can use a quick question and short pause to allow the interviewer to correct any misconceptions. Make sure you have an up-to-date resume in front of you and a notepad to take down anything that could be useful in later interviews. At the end of the call, don’t be afraid to ask whether or not you have got through to the next stage. KEy POINt S 4 Preliminary interviews are often outsourced and done over the phone in order to keep the costs down. 4 They are usually scheduled outside of normal working hours and tend to be quite short with an emphasis on fact checking. 4 Your interpersonal and communication skills will also be evaluated, so it is important to give the interviewer your full attention and give clear answers to questions. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 10 IntervIew PreP aratIon Using a recruitment agency In some industries, almost all recruitment is done through preferred agencies and having an agent that you have a good professional relationship with is essential. Not only does it mean that you are notified of job opportunities as soon as they become available but the agent can often recommend you for the shortlist without having to go through a preliminary interview. A good rapport with an agency is essential if you are taking short, fixed-term jobs, something that is becoming more and more common. Agencies incur most of their costs in the initial screening process and they risk their reputation every time they put forward a candidate they don’t know very well. As a result, they tend to value candidates they already know and who have a proven record of dependability and professionalism. Verify your suitability to the role and organization Agency Ask questions based on the 3C’s Interviews about the provide the ideal organization’s opportunity to: culture and values Consequently, you need to take your preparation for agency interviews as seriously as you would for one with an employer. This is true even if there is no specific job offer on the table because it could be the beginning of a long-term relationship. An agent who is impressed by your professionalism can be a powerful ally in securing a future interview, and an enthusiastic endorsement from an agent can open doors that would otherwise remain closed. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 11 IntervIew PreP aratIon A good relationship with an agency also allows you to ask questions about both the role and the employer that can help you decide whether a particular opportunity is right for you. Even though agencies are only paid when a candidate is successful, it is not in their interests to place someone who turns out to be unsuitable. Having a respected agency on your side can really improve your career prospects and it is not difficult to have a long-term relationship provided that you give a good account of yourself in any interviews they arrange for you, and that you stay with an employer for a reasonable length of time if you are successful. KEy POINt S 4 An ongoing relationship with a respected recruitment agency can be a great help in getting onto the interview shortlist. 4 This is important because there can be so many applicants for a job that the initial screening process can be something of a lottery. Interview Preparation When preparing for a face-to-face interview with a prospective employer you should refer to the original job ad, the role description, and the employee specification if one is available. The job ad will give you some basic information—for example, the location, salary, qualifications required, and job title, along with a basic outline of the role. The phrasing of the language used gives a good initial indication of the culture and values of the organization. The detailed role description expands on this and includes information about the duties to be performed, the areas of responsibility, and the reporting structure. This is one of the key sources you will use to identify and rank the role’s competencies. Many organizations include an explanation of how they want an employee to act and the value set they believe best suits their culture in the role description. Others write separate statements known as an employee specification. These can relate to specific ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 12 IntervIew PreP aratIon roles or to the level of responsibility and management assigned to the role. It usually consists of a list of personal qualities, competencies, and skills that the HR department have deemed appropriate for the grade or level assigned to the role. You should always try to get as much information as you can from the HR department even if this means calling them and asking if there is any additional information they can give you. Once you have these documents, you can compare the role’s competencies with your own. You will need a management competency framework to help you do this. The alphabetical list below details the 12 most common management competencies. You will need to identify which of these 12 match the role. Core competencies that refl ect the values & beliefs of the organization Management Competency Framework has: Other competencies that refl ect role & responsibility For a detailed description of the behaviors associated with these competencies you can download our free Management Competency Framework template, which covers the following: ● Change Agent● Mentoring & Coaching ● Continual Improvement● Planning & Organizing ● Customer Focused● Professional Development ● Decision-Making● Resource Management ● Interpersonal Communications● Stakeholder Management ● Leadership● Strategic Thinking An organization’s management competency framework will consist of functional and behavioral components. These components are ranked in accordance with the organization’s culture and values. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 13 IntervIew PreP aratIon Functional Behavioral components, Competencies components, e.g. technical e.g. universal consist of: needs specifi c soft skills to role It is important to remember that a role’s competencies are the aggregate behaviors an individual needs to perform a role. It is how someone delivers their objectives, not what the objectives are. KEy POINt S 4 The job ad, role description, and employee specification can all be used to list and rank the competencies required. 4 Competencies are the aggregate behaviors an individual needs to perform a role. 4 You can use a competency framework to compare the required competencies with your own. w orked Management example Matching a role’s competencies to your own is a three-step process: 1. Define the Role Competencies 2. Relate Your Competencies to the Role’s 3. Develop Your Competencies (if required) This example uses Sam, who has applied for a marketing manager’s role, and shows how to relate his behaviors to the required competencies. It only covers the first two steps of the process in detail as the third step is covered in our free eBook ‘Developing Competencies’. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 14 IntervIew PreP aratIon This example uses the job ad and the associated job description. The details often contained in an employee specification are described under the ‘Required Qualifications & Abilities’ section of the ad. This enables you to see how to extract key competencies out of a short description rather than a detailed specification. Yours = Role’s Competencies • Identify Competency Defi ne Role Gaps Competencies • Develop Your Competencies Yours vs. Role’s Competencies Sam’s resume is not included but you can see how he extracts items from it that demonstrate the competencies needed to complete the comparison. This also shows him the level of management—supervisory, manager, executive, strategic—he is currently performing at and whether this is sufficient to be a serious contender for the marketing manager’s role. Marketing Manager Ad Details Marketing Manager—Medical Devices/Healthcare New York, NY up to 75,000 + Bonus + Benefits My client is a thriving, international brand that provides specialist products to the healthcare sector. They seek a marketing professional with 7+ years’ experience in marketing with focus on public relations, internal communications, and event planning within the healthcare sector. Required Qualifications & Abilities: Master of Business Administration in Marketing (MBA) Doctoral Member of American Marketing Association (AMA) 7+ years’ experience in marketing, public relations, internal communications, & event planning. Strong financial and contract management. Experience working in health or professional services sector preferred. Academic Membership of Marketing Science Institute (MSI) beneficial. Excellent verbal and written communications skills. Substantial problem identification & resolution skills at strategic & tactical level. Excellent interpersonal skills. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 15 IntervIew PreP aratIon Marketing Manager Job Description Job Description: Marketing Manager You will be responsible for the development of a strategic marketing plan and its execution throughout the East coast of the States. The main responsibilities will include, but are not limited to, the following activities: • Manage and implement all marketing and communications programs within the region. This will include the management and development of all marketing personnel (team of 15), both at the head office in New York and in the five regional offices. • Review the Regional Strategy and develop a marketing plan that supports this strategy and is acceptable to the Business Development Director. • Oversee the entire marketing activities for the region and ensure all the marketing team is up to date at all times and comprehends the implications of their individual activities. • Ensure the organization’s website, intranet, and social media reflect the corporate identity, company mission, and business development plans at all times. • Develop and maintain the corporate identity that is supportive of the Mission Statement and is disseminated throughout all literature. • Incorporate the latest R&D announcements into the marketing strategy appropriately and integrate each launch into the marketing plan. • Coordinate with Professional Development of the marketing team to ensure sufficient training and coaching initiatives are utilized. This information gives Sam sufficient data to enable him to start defining the required competencies of the marketing manager’s role using the management competency framework template. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 16 IntervIew PreP aratIon Defining Role Competencies Using the ad and job description it is easy to tease out the competencies that are required of someone in the marketing manger’s role. Sam recognizes that his experience and behaviors need to show an individual operating at a strategic level rather than the hands-on level his current resume suggests. Job Description Competency Manage and implement all marketing and communications Resource Management programs within the region. Stakeholder Management Decision-Making This will include the management and development of all Leadership, Change Agent marketing personnel (team of 15), both at the head office in Mentoring & Coaching New York and in the five regional offices. Interpersonal Comms. Review the Regional Strategy and develop a marketing plan Continual Improvement that supports this strategy and is acceptable to the Business Strategic Thinking Development Director. Resource Management Oversee the entire marketing activities for the region and …. Planning & Organizing Leadership Mentoring & Coaching …. ensure all the marketing team is up to date at all times Interpersonal Comms. and comprehends the implications of their individual activities. Ensure the organization’s website, intranet, and social Strategic Thinking media reflect the corporate identity, company mission, and Decision-Making business development plans at all times. Planning & Organizing Develop and maintain the corporate identity that is Strategic Thinking supportive of the Mission Statement and is disseminated Interpersonal Comms. throughout all literature. Continual Improvement Incorporate the latest R&D announcements into the Strategic Thinking marketing strategy appropriately and integrate each launch Decision-Making into the marketing plan. Resource Management Leadership Coordinate with Professional Development of the marketing Professional Development team to ensure sufficient training and coaching initiatives Leadership are utilized. Mentoring & Coaching You will be responsible for the development of a strategic Strategic Thinking marketing plan and its execution throughout the East coast Resource Management of the United States. Planning & Organizing ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 17 IntervIew PreP aratIon Using the management competencies described in our free template framework Sam can map and rank these requirements and responsibilities. The first task is to pull out the various responsibilities described in the job description and ad. Always be mindful that certain competencies, such as ‘Customer Focused,’ may not be specifically named because there is an innate expectation that this is included for this level of role and does not need to be stated. Using this assumption and the frequency with which each competency appears an initial ranking can be made. Sam’s second task is to repeat this process using the information contained in the ‘Required Qualifications & Abilities’ section of the ad. Required Qualifications & Abilities Competency Master of Business Administration in Marketing (MBA) Professional Development Doctoral Member of American Marketing Association (AMA) Academic Membership of Marketing Science Institute (MSI) beneficial 7+ years’ experience in marketing, public relations, internal Customer Focused communications, & event planning Decision-Making Planning & Organizing Strong financial and contract management Stakeholder Management Resource Management Decision-Making Experience working in health or professional services sector Customer Focused preferred Leadership Excellent verbal and written communications skills Interpersonal Comms. Substantial problem identification & resolution skills at Change Agent strategic & tactical level Interpersonal Comms. Leadership Strategic Thinking Excellent interpersonal skills Interpersonal Comms. The final table shows how the priorities of the different competencies alter from that of just the job description and then the whole ad. Customer Focused remains at the top because it is a marketing manger’s role Sam wishes to attain. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 18 IntervIew PreP aratIon You can see that the emphasis on ‘Interpersonal Communications’ is much greater than the initial ranking. Also that equal ranking is given to ‘Resource Management’ and ‘Decision-Making’ competencies after the second task. Competencies from Job Description Competencies from Whole Ad 1. Customer Focused I. Customer Focused 2. Strategic Thinking II. Strategic Thinking 3. Leadership III. Leadership 4. Resource Management IV. Interpersonal Communications 5. Decision-Making V. Resource Management 6. Mentoring & Coaching VI. Decision-Making 7. Interpersonal Communications VII. Mentoring & Coaching 8. Planning and Organizing VIII. Stakeholder Management 9. Continual Improvement IX. Planning and Organizing 10. Professional Development X. Continual Improvement 11. Stakeholder Management XI. Professional Development 12. Change Agent XII. Change Agent When comparing the two sides of this table you can also see that the priorities have changed and that the top four competencies have altered. As we work through this example we will demonstrate how Sam can match his own competencies to these top four required competencies. This mapping exercise will reveal any gaps in the required competencies that need developing if he wants to attain the role. It also highlights where his behavior is not at the appropriate level and needs to be changed. In some instances Sam may need to use behaviors from what he has called ‘External Responsibilities’ on his resume. This can be especially important if faced with a short time period to prepare for an interview. Sam also uses one detail on his resume to cover several competencies to varying degrees and this is another useful strategy to ensure you have all the required competencies. E.g. Sam uses ‘Production of regular budget monitoring and reporting for local government sector’ to illustrate the competencies: • Customer Focused • Planning & Organizing • Resource Management • Decision-Making ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 19 IntervIew PreP aratIon KEy POINt S 4 This example shows you how to define the role competencies, if this has not been done explicitly. It also suggests a way of ranking them. Matching Competencies To illustrate how you make a comparison between your own competencies and that of the role we will use the top four competencies from the previous example. These are: ● Customer Focused ● Strategic Thinking ● Leadership ● Interpersonal Communications Four Competencies Leadership to be Compared Strategic Customer Thinking Focused Interpersonal Communications ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 20 IntervIew PreP aratIon For each competency the common management framework definition is used and displayed at the top of each competency table. ● The left-hand column shows the required management behaviors. ● The middle and right-hand columns provide examples of how Sam has displayed this competency through his behavior at: ○ Work (middle); and ○ Different social situations (right). This method of comparison enables you to quickly identify whether your behavior matches that required. Any gaps that occur mean that you will need to draw on outside activities. The following four tables illustrate how Sam made his comparisons and identified his competency gaps for the role of marketing manager. Customer Focused: • Understanding as well as identifying the needs of existing & potential customers. • Ensuring that the main focus and priority is on meeting customer needs. Management Sam’s Work Examples Sam’s Social Examples Behaviors Proactive in seeking • Customer events used to cross- • Parent Teacher Association feedback from sell services through customer (PTA) AGM feedback is used customers, which is recommendation. to base next year’s events on. then actively used in • Merchandising campaign • Ask parents of soccer squad decisions in all aspects offering on-site technical you train for feedback on of customer service. support & communication. where they feel the children • Informed & recommended need further skills training. changes to product development/production following customer feedback. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 21 IntervIew PreP aratIon Strives to gain an in- • Conducted structured post-bid • Talk to head teacher about depth understanding interviews (in both won/lost shortfalls in annual budget of customer needs sales) to gain an understanding & impact this has on school so that future of prospects’ views of the & where PTA funds can help recommendations can organization. plug these gaps. be made. • Merchandising campaign set • Regularly chat to parents at up to understand travel agent & school to assess how well tour operator relationship & its they feel their child’s needs impact on sales. are being met. • Following research group product reviews, recommended product changes—design, build, & sales offers. Where customers • From structured post-bid have concerns or interviews agreed how & when specific needs agree to respond to feedback from a timescale in which prospects & customers. they will be dealt with • Created & updated user literature effectively. & POS goods for travel agent staff to ensure they knew which tour operators were available. Have a clear • Diverted budget from travel • Ensure that costs of any PTA understanding of exhibition to create & update event are minimal allowing customer expectations user literature & POS goods for school to gain most benefit. and aim to add value travel agent staff. • Seek sponsorship or gifts of without causing cost • Altered focus & budget of time for both PTA and soccer implications to the travel exhibition from large club. organization. stand to smaller one, targeted sponsorship Deal with customer • Structured post-bid interviews. • Explain school’s budgetary complaints effectively, • Merchandising campaign. constraints & how this has understand why they operational implications. happened, and develop • Outline how you plan to procedures to prevent address such issues. it happening again. Seeks to develop • Structured post-bid interviews. • Seeks advice from other age knowledge of • Merchandising campaign. groups within the soccer marketplace so • Created local government club as to how best to train services can be forum to educate authorities on youngest age group. improved. potential use of outsourcing. ISBN 978-1-62620-784-8 © 22

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