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Handling interviews: little details and behavioural questions

While most people think they have thought about everything when they are attending that all-important interview, unfortunately many forget all about the little things, instead only concentrating on the more important. Here are some common mistakes that people make during their interview:

1. Research the company beforehand

You have made sure you have your CV up to date; you have practiced for hours going through all different types of scenario that could happen during your interview. You are prepared for anything the interviewer could ask you, but then the interviewer smiles and asks you a question relating to the future goals of the company and how you could make a difference.

Your face and mind goes blank, you know nothing about the company’s goals for the future. You should always make sure you do a little research into the background of the company beforehand; most big companies have websites where information can be found on their background and the company’s goals for the future.

2. Dress for success and show up on time

There is no faster way to make a poor impression than to show up late or look dishevelled. Whatever the position, make sure your clothes are cleaned, ironed and appropriate. A suit will be the best choice for most positions but where the environment is more casual, consider jeans and a blazer. Keep accessories and jewellery to a minimum – plain threader earrings and a smart watch or a simple silver bracelet for example. Make sure you come suitably prepared too.

Here is the lovely Linda Raynier explaining more about how to dress for your interview:

3. Switch off your mobile phone

There is nothing worse than getting half way through your interview and things are going well, then your mobile phone rings with that silly tune, then you have to fumble for it and end the call. This is a big no-no and with a little forethought, it can be completely avoided! If you must take your phone with you then remember to put it on silent or better still, turn it off completely.

4. Ask questions – you are not under interrogation

While you might feel like the interview is an interrogation, it isn’t! Although you will be asked questions and of course will have to answer, you should also ask questions yourself. You are not there to simply answer questions – you also have to ask your own, and make sure that the position you are applying for and the company is suitable for you, just as the interviewer making sure you are right for the position.

Throughout the interview, the interviewer will usually ask if you have any questions. Never say a plain no – this could lead the interviewer to think that you aren’t interested and it also cuts the flow of the conversation to a dead stop. Listen to what the interviewer is saying and make mental notes of questions to ask when given the opportunity.

5. Always try to turn a negative aspect into a positive

The interviewer will want to find your weaknesses – be honest and admit you do have them. No one is perfect and the interviewer will of course know this. While you have weaknesses, you should however turn them into positive rather than negative. Admit to your weaknesses and also explain what you are doing to improve in those areas which need it.

Click here for a few things to avoid during your interview.

Tips when attending behavioural interviews

The interviewer will often use the behavioural interview technique as a way of assessing how you could positively affect the company should they hire you. They will base this on past events you have handled that you give clues about during your interview. How do you know if the interview is a behavioural interview?

It is a clear give away if the interviewer looks you in the eye and says with a smile “so tell me about a time when you…”. Tips for successfully surviving the behaviour technique interview are:

Answer consistently and elaborate on your achievements

When asked about past achievements don’t be afraid to speak out and give clear concise examples of your past achievements. There is no getting around the fact that getting the job depends on your past experiences so elaborate on them. If you are lacking in experience then relate questions the interviewer is asking to something close to which you achieved (not necessarily work-based) but above all be honest, and don’t forget you have to be able to back up any claims you make.

Prepare yourself beforehand

Of course, you might not know what type of interview you will be attending – in fact this will happen more often than not – so be prepared for anything beforehand. Do a little homework and write down all aspects you can think of that might relate to the position you are applying for and which will show you in the very best of light.

Write down everything you have achieved in the past, problems you encountered and what part you played in determining the outcome. Be prepared to answer any questions and give clear concise answers how you made your achievements happen and the benefit the company gained from having you in their employment.

Common questions asked during behavioural interviews

Of course no one can tell what questions the interviewer will ask – if we had this insight we could all sail through interviews and get the job every time! Here are some examples of the types of questions that are commonly asked during behavioural interviews.

  • Tell me about a time when a decision you made, made a huge difference.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to carry most of the workload – what did you do about it, and how did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time when you made a wrong decision – what did you do to put things right?
  • Tell me about a strategy you had to meet a particular deadline.

For more interview tips, click here.

Here are some more ideas for answering common behavioural interview questions:

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