Professional Practice Lecture Notes http://www.cs.qub.ac.uk/~yearout/CSC211
Week 7 How to succeed at interview Interview techniques Assessment centres Placement update
IT Interviews Being short listed for interview means that an employer believes you have the potential to do the job because you have the right qualifications, skills and experience, and is now narrowing the selection by criteria to see whether you have all the requirements.
IT Interviews cont’d Criteria for Interview Vary from job to job but typically: Your intellectual qualities Your level of enthusiasm Your ability to get on with people Your ability to express yourself Whether you fit into the organisation
IT Interviews ont’d Most organisations will have a selection process, which involves a first interview and aptitude tests leading to a second interview. The interview also gives you the chance to assess the organisation – is it offering exactly what you want as regards training and organisation.
IT Interviews ont’d Your aims in the interview are: to demonstrate that you are the right person for the job to discover if the job on offer is right for you The aims of the interviewer are: to discover how far you match their requirements for the job so that they can choose the ‘best’ candidate to ensure that you, the candidate, understand their job and organisation sufficiently to decide whether the job is right for you.
Success at the Interview So how do you convince the recruiter you are the right person for the job? The key to success is in the preparation beforehand. Practical matters: Confirming your attendance at the interview by telephone or email Checking the format of the interview if it is not clear from your invitation Transport and cost, making sure you will arrive at least 15 minutes early
Success at the Interview cont’d Dressing appropriately, looking professional and smart, creating the right impression What to bring with you – map, CV or application form, presentation materials if you have been asked to give one Preparation for Questions You will have to prepare for the types of questions you will be asked at the interview. The recruiter will want to learn more about you, about your knowledge of the company and your ability to do the job.
Types of Interview Chronological or Biographical This type of interview is largely based on your CV or application form and allows you to explain and expand on what you have written. Very few interviews are still like this as recruiters find that the structured interview is more successful.
Types of Interview cont’d Criteria or Competence Based Most interviews are criteria based these days. All candidates are asked more or less the same questions and are matched against 6-8 criteria. Questions are detailed and maybe increasingly in-depth. Example: If the interviewer is examining your abilities against the criterion leadership skills then this is the likely pattern of questioning.
Types of Interview cont’d Level One The Question: Would you describe yourself as having leadership skills? Level Two The Evidence: You are asked for specific, real life examples Level Three The Personal Contribution: Your own role is examined, and your own feelings, thoughts and opinions sought. What was your individual contribution to this activity? What did you learn from the experience? How would you do it differently next time? What would have happened if you weren’t there?
Types of Interview cont’d Level Four The General: The criterion is looked at more generally to test your powers of analysis. What makes a good leader? Have you ever witnessed something that was badly led? Why is it important for our own company to recruit with this skill? Level Five The Challenge: Your ideas and thoughts are challenged “Surely what you have just described show you have not been as successful as you might have been” or “I don’t agree. Don’t you mean…” Level Six And back to the start…… “Thank you, that’s very interesting. How else could you convince me that you are a leader?”
Types of Interview cont’d Technical Interviews If the job requires technical skill then you can expect to be asked about specific knowledge and skills. You might be asked to interpret a diagram or decipher a computer programming code.
Have You Got The Look? You can expect that anything between 70-90% of your communication messages are conveyed through non- verbal aspects. Your body language gives a lot away about you and how you feel about yourself. In important situations such as interviews or social events it is vital to get the balance right. Body language often speaks louder than words.
Have You Got The Look? cont’d The first step to changing your body language is awareness. Start by observing other people as it is usually easier than observing yourself. Once you are aware of body signals, then you can begin slowly correcting yours.
Have You Got The Look? cont’d Things to watch for are: Tone of voice Inflection Speed of speech Eye contact Body Posture Hand gestures Facial expressions
Have You Got The Look? cont’d Assertive Direct eye contact Open body Body is still and relaxed Hand gestures emphasise words Shoulders straight and posture upright Voice appears warm and firm Aggressive Looking bored Pointing finger Hands on hips Sarcastic tone Loud or too soft voice Body closed off Invading personal space by standing too close Non-Assertive Looking away Fidgeting with hair, jewellery etc Whining voice or difficult to hear Smiling inappropriately Shoulders slumped and bad posture
Winning Body Language Here’s how to give the right message at important meetings and interviews Posture Stand tall and straight Hold you arms relaxed down your side and turning the palm of your hands and wrists outwards, this will immediately throw back your shoulders and open out your chest
Winning Body Language cont’d Handshake A palm of the hand facing downwards in the handshake indicates a dominant attitude A palm offered upward indicates a submissive approach Keep your hand vertical. Maintain firm (not crushing) pressure, keep steady eye contact and smile – this will signal co-operation, respect and friendliness
Winning Body Language cont’d Sitting Sit upright, but relaxed in the chair. Do not lean overly forward, this looks too keen and nervous Relaxing too far back into the chair denotes disrespect Arms & Legs Unfolded arms and uncross legs Crossed limbs are usually perceived as negative, defensive gestures
Winning Body Language cont’d Hands Practise neutral positions, like lying your hands in your lap Non verbal gestures indicating deceit include rubbing your face below the nose, rubbing your eyes, and pulling your collar away from the neck Keep your hands away from your face Don’t be tempted to clench your hands together as this signals nervousness
Winning Body Language cont’d The Eyes and Face Speaking with your eyes closed, even for a second, signals an attempt to block someone from your sight because you are not particularly interested in what they have to say, or what they have to hear Excessive and sustained eye contact can be interpreted as aggressive and threatening Smiling can be a really powerful body language tool, you’ll appear as confident, friendly and relaxed
Knowledge of Yourself Read through your CV or form to remind yourself of the impression already conveyed and make a list of questions that are likely to appear: Why do you want the job? Why do you think you are a suitable candidate? What are your ambitions? What are your interests? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How would your best friend describe you? What are your relevant skills and experiences? Why should we select you?
Knowledge of Yourself cont’d What is the most exciting thing you have ever done? What did you gain from your degree/placement/part-time job? Describe projects, difficult situations you have experienced, how you managed your time on university. What are you looking for when you graduate? What did you like and dislike about your degree course?
What should you ask? Your questions can demonstrate your awareness of the company. Ask about recent developments, training opportunities and things which occur to you as you read the literature or website. Don’t ask anything that has been previously explained in the brochure.
What should you ask? cont’d Where does this position fit into your overall organisation? To whom should I report? What do you see as the priorities for someone in this position? How are employees evaluated and promoted? What type of on-the-job training is available? How will your performance be assessed?
What should you ask? cont’d Does the job involve travel? If so, how much? Does your company encourage its employees to undertake further education and training? What are the company’s plans for the future? What are the biggest challenges facing the company?
INTERVIEW QUESTIONING TECHNIQUES Background Competence based selection requires interviewers to obtain evidence of past behaviour because the competences are described in terms of how people behave. The reason why past behaviour is required is because it indicates how the candidate is likely to behave in the future (i.e. the way I behaved in a given situation yesterday is likely to be the way I will behave tomorrow in the same circumstances)
INTERVIEW QUESTIONING TECHNIQUES cont’d 1.Open the Interview The interviewer will introduce themselves and explain how the interview will be conducted. 2.Walk through the CV/Application Form Here the interviewer will identify how and why career changes have occurred. They will explore the transition between jobs and any ‘gaps’ or dates that don’t match. 3.Overview the Person: current position Explores current activities and obtains a picture of the candidate e.g. what they do, how they are coping, time management, projects etc.
SOME TIPS FOR THE SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW Do: Prepare well Rehearse/role play if you can before the interview Arrive in good time - check out journey details beforehand Shake hands warmly - adopt a friendly open approach to the interviewer Smile when you feel it is appropriate and so generate some warmth
SOME TIPS FOR THE SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW Sit comfortable and try to look confident Listen carefully Look directly at the interviewers Appear open and approachable Wear appropriate but comfortable clothes Let the interviewers take the lead Use positive phrases such as 'I am confident that...' rather than 'I think I could..‘
SOME TIPS FOR THE SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW Emphasise the positive aspects of the things you have done - play down the negative Elaborate on something the interviewer seems interested in Have a mental list of things you still need to know about the job. If relevant, ask these at the end of the interview eg about job content, training, future prospects Ensure that you have told the panel everything that you feel is relevant to your application Check when you are likely to hear the interview result, if you haven’t been told.
SOME TIPS FOR THE SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW It’s okay to: Ask for a question to be repeated if you have not heard it, or to be rephrased if you have not understood it Allow yourself thinking time Have ‘time-gaining’ phrases up your sleeve such as: o ‘That is a difficult/interesting question’ o ‘That is an important point’ o ‘I am not sure how I would answer that – could I give it some thought? But…if you really do not know the answer to a question, say so.
SOME TIPS FOR THE SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW cont’d Try not to: Sit on edge of chair or fidget Whisper responses or waffle Appear over-confident or be too ‘laid back’ Clutch a newspaper, umbrella, briefcase, etc Sit facing a window if there is a choice of where to sit Say you can do something you cannot substantiate
SOME TIPS FOR THE SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW cont’d Give one word, or very brief answers. Instead, amplify and support your statements, giving examples of relevant experience Underplay your abilities and achievements Allow yourself to get flustered or show irritation Ask questions about the job which you could/should have found out answers to before eg conditions of service, hours, etc. Have a long written list of questions to put to the panel
What three skills are you looking for at interview? Liberty IT Communication: We are looking for candidates who can communicate confidently and with interest about themselves and their skills Organisation: Is the candidate organised in their approach to their academic studies and their leisure time? Problem Solving: Can the candidate approach a problem in a structured fashion and bring clarity and judgement to the situation?
What three skills are you looking for at interview? cont’d Northbrook Technology NI Excellent communication skills Being able to demonstrate team player skills Being adaptable and flexible Intel Ireland Assertiveness Organisation and planning Written/spoken communication
What three skills are you looking for at interview? cont’d Singularity Effective communication skills Team working – working co-operatively rather than competitively with others for a common goal Influencing others – using a personal style which helps to positively persuade others
What makes for success at interview? Liberty IT Someone who has obviously researched the company, and where possible has talked to an employee. These candidates impress us with their personal motivation and desire to join the company as opposed to those who treat it as just another interview Intel Ireland Good appearance Well prepared Confident and enthusiastic
What makes for success at interview? cont’d Singularity Dress to impress and be confident Be able to articulate ideas Do some research – show an interest in the company Northbrook Technology NI If the applicant listens to the question and then answers correctly Asking for clarification if the question is not understood Providing a clear and structured answer Smartly dressed, good eye contact, erect posture, shakes hands at beginning and end of interview
After the interview? There are some things you should do as soon as you can after the interview: Write down all that you can remember: –what you said –what you did –what went well –what could have been better Make a note of any questions you could not answer and ensure you can answer them next time This will help you assess and improve your interview performance.
Assessment Centres Second stage selection lasts from a couple of hours to 3 days, depending on the method used. You may receive an invitation to: Another interview An assessment centre
Assessment Centres cont’d What can happen? Group Exercises Presentations Aptitude Tests Panel Interviews Case studies, in-tray exercises and role plays
Assessment Centres cont’d Group Exercises The ice breaker The discussion group The leaderless task The leadership task good leader delegates uses the strengths of others knows what is going on takes decisions
Assessment Centres cont’d Some tips for effective group work Watch out for people with clipboards It’s quality not quantity that counts Complete the task Never seek to destroy Know how and when to compromise You can’t be assessed if you can’t be heard
Assessment Centres cont’d Presentations Every presentations needs a structure 2 most common structures: A beginning Situation A middleComplication An endResolution
Assessment Centres cont’d Some tips for presentations Be ruthless with the content How you come across is more important than what you say Don’t start until you are ready Master the visual aids
Assessment Centres cont’d Aptitude Tests Ability Tests Tests your innate ability in key work related areas. Most common tests: Verbal reasoning Numerical reasoning Logical reasoning Answers are either right or wrong Time limit Questions get progressively harder Tests always start with example questions Practice ability tests before the selection centre www.prospects.ac.uk www.shl.com
Assessment Centres cont’d Personality Inventories Tell the organisation nothing about your ability but quite a lot about the type of person you are and what you want out of life There are no right or wrong answers There is no real time limit You often get a chance to talk over your ‘profile’ with the assessors Answer personality inventories honestly
Assessment Centres cont’d Panel Interviews Extend your knowledge further than the company brochure and annual report Beaware of any current news stories about the organisation or the industry its in Study your application form Expect a grilling on your knowledge of subject if you are applying for a technical job Have a high level of enthusiasm for the job and be very clear exactly why you should be offered it Don’t disappoint them
Assessment Centres cont’d Summary Panel interviews, if you don’t panic, are a fair test of your suitability Expect a more testing interview and prepare accordingly
Assessment Centres cont’d Case studies, in-tray exercises and role plays Case studies Test your ability to assimilate written material and draw out the important points Folder containing lists of information Read it Make a number of proposals or recommendations
Assessment Centres cont’d In-tray exercises Are used to test not only your ability to understand complex written material but also how well you prioritise tasks Given pile of documents Told it is Mon morning and you have 30 mins to read through them all and decide what you do first, second, third and so on
Assessment Centres cont’d Preparation for in-tray exercises Usually carried out against the clock Decide quickly what is important It’s best to glance through everything to get an overall picture before you study the contents in detail Keep calm Tests your understanding Expect a logical answer
Assessment Centres cont’d Role Play Exercises Simulation of real life working incidents one step further than case studies or in-tray exercises An unrehearsed duet with an assessor Be aware of the ‘background’ to the role play, but never make up your mind in advance what is going to happen After the Assessment Centre Usually receive a letter within a week or so telling you their decision Sometimes you are informed on the day
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