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How should I prepare for a job interview?

How should I prepare for a job interview?

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Interviewing has been called an art, and there's no doubt that it calls for insight and creativity. But it's also a science, requiring process, methods, and consistency to produce truly accurate and effective results. Look at it this way: Your art will flourish within the sound framework of a systematic, scientific approach.

Having a preplanned structure ensures you're asking the right questions and whether you're recruiting 50 entry-level workers or a single executive, take the time to lay the foundation before beginning to interview candidates.

Define your objectives
Even if you think you're an expert interviewer, a "seat-of-the-pants" approach can backfire. Take the time to clearly define what you are looking for before you begin recruiting.

  • Describe the position's duties and the technical knowledge and skills required to do the job.
  • Identify success factors: How did previous top performers in this job behave?
  • Establish performance expectations: What do you expect this person to accomplish?

For this step, bring in the hiring manager as well as peers or those who have performed the job in the past to make sure that you are painting an accurate picture of the ideal candidate. Armed with this information, you'll be better able to evaluate each candidate.

Select your questions in advance
Don't rely on a job description and a candidate's CV to structure the interview. You'll get much better information if you carefully pre-select questions that allow you to evaluate whether a candidate has those skills and behaviours you've identified as essential for the job.

You might include some or all of these types of questions:

  • Icebreakers – As their name implies, icebreakers are used to build rapport and set candidates at ease before beginning the formal interview, such as "Did you have any trouble finding our office?"
  • Traditional Questions – With these, you can gather general information about a candidate and their skills and experience. Because these questions are asked often, many candidates will have prepared answers to them, so they can be used to help candidates feel at ease in the early stages of an interview. Try "What are your greatest strengths?" or "Why do you want to work for us?"
  • Situational Questions – Ask candidates what they would do in a specific situation relevant to the job at hand. These questions can help you understand a candidate's thought process. Consider "How would you deal with an irate customer?" or "If we were to hire you, what is the first thing you would do?"
  • Behaviour-Based Questions – These require candidates to share a specific example from their past experience. Each complete answer from a candidate should be in the form of a SAR response – Situation, Action, and Result. If a candidate skips any of these three elements, prompt them to fill in the blanks. Examples include "Tell me about a crisis you could have prevented." or "How would you resolve a conflict between two colleagues?"
  • Culture-Fit Questions – These will help you select candidates who are motivated and suited to perform well in the unique environment of your organisation. You might ask "What gave you the greatest feeling of achievement in your last job?" or "What motivates you to work hard?"

Build an interview team
Whenever possible, have more than one person interview candidates; you'll gain a balanced perspective and be more likely to have a fair hiring process. In addition to the reporting manager and a HR representative, think about including some of the people who will be working with the new hire.

One of the most important things when interviewing is to find out if they are going to fit within the culture and the team environment of your company.