Category Archives: Video Interviews

Job Seeker Advice – Interview Tips

Great news, you’ve prepared a winning CV, spent weeks scrolling, searching and registering in the alternate and surreal universe known as on-line job boards, met with 20 recruitment agencies and applied for literally hundreds of jobs. Finally you’ve secured an interview and after the initial elation thought ‘Oh no, a dreaded interview……!’Image

The following are a few simple tips and hints to help you, not exhaustive but worth considering:

Company Research

It is vital that you know who you are going to see, what they do, their successes and what makes them tick as an organisation. Check them out, use Linkedin  and the internet. Get a view of the type of people who work there, what their backgrounds are and general information. Make sure you look at groups they are in, what discussions they contribute to, get to know them before the interview. You may even be able to find out what football team they support! All of this information can make a difference, and interviewers will expect you to be prepared.

Role Research

Read the job description, make notes and compare your experience, qualifications and skills against it. Make notes of relevant challenges, projects and responsibilities which match from your previous employment and occasions when you have demonstrated these abilities. In some cases such as public sector (Councils for example) ask them if there is an Employee Specification document (this is different from a job description), this will enable you to match and compare your skills and experience effectively and accurately.

Interview Research

Ask what kind of interview it will be, is it going to be a panel interview, will there be tests, will it be competency based, what documentation or information will they require on the day. Know before you get there what to expect. If you are being assisted by a recruiter, ask them what other candidates have experience, ask them if they have an hour spare to do some role play with you. Remember it is as much in the Recruiters interests for you to do well as it is your own. So make them go that extra yard, get them involved. I absolutely love preparing candidates for interview, especially when they blow my client away.

Prepare Questions in Advance

Nothing makes an interviewer cringe more than a prospective employee who doesn’t have some great questions. Forget about asking how many smoke breaks there are, or about sickness and holidays. Ask about career progression, the company’s future strategy and growth. Ask the interviewer why they work there, what is the one thing that makes it such a great place to work?

A real crowd pleaser in an interview is when you structure questions around some very recent or major press release or business / sector development. If for example they have recently acquired a business, ask them what drove that acquisition, what the short and long term impact in terms of revenue and turnover is going to be and how that will enhance the companies competitive edge. I once had a candidate interviewed for a role as a Business Analyst and the guy interviewing him didn’t know that the company had just acquired a major competitor until my candidate asked them a question about it. Brilliant, they got the job.

Location Preparation

It might sound obvious, but make sure you know exactly where the location is. Check timings for getting there in good time. If using public transport make sure that you have enough time in case of delays. It is great to arrive 10 minutes early but avoid turning up too early. Use a sat-nav if you have one, even check the route out the day before, make sure you know if there is a parking space or not.

Appearance

Remember, it is you that wants a job! Dress appropriately for the environment, check with them if necessary and ask if it is business attire or smart casual and adapt accordingly. Be aware that many organisations will frown upon things that you may consider acceptable, not every workplace will admire your multiple piercings and the tattoos modelled on Angeline Jolie, no matter how fabulous your friends think they are.

The Interview

You got there on time, you look like a million dollars,  your research was exhaustive, you know your interviewer supports Manchester United (someone has to) and you’ve even researched where they are in the league and now you are nothing but a shaking, trembling bag of nerves! Seriously though, if you’ve prepared you should feel great! Remember to smile, lots!

Interviews should be two way. Of course the interviewer wants to ascertain if you have the right skills, personality and experience for their organisation. But equally, they should present their company, the culture and successes to sell the opportunity to you.

Listen carefully to the questions and answer honestly and succinctly using examples from your past experience.  When you have finished confirm that your answer is informative enough. If you don’t understand a question, maybe because of terminology then be honest and ask them to repeat it or phrase it in another way. Avoid negatives at all cost, focus on positive examples and experiences.

Remember, body language is important, but don’t make the mistake of getting too carried away with it. Mimicking yiour interviewer might sound great at some job seeker workshop, if you get it wrong they could take offence. People buy people like them, but nobody likes to be made a fool of. Smile, sit up straight and don’t fidget or fiddle, even Chief Executives can be uncomfortable in an interview. Remember that your interviewer is probably as uncomfortable with the whole situation as you. So relax, enjoy the experience and you’ll notice that it should just flow.Image

Finally remember to ask your questions when given the opportunity. But most importantly at the end ask them how they thought it went? Ask them if there is any additional information they need? Ask them what the next stage is and how long it will be before you hear from them. Close the interview professionally and confidently and let them know that you are interested.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

“You Want to do What? Skype Interview Me?” A Quick Guide To Video / Telephone Interviews – Part 1

After registering with 80 job boards who all have a different password format to ensure that you will never be able to log-in again, you have applied for 3,000 jobs and finally a response. Youare moved almost to tears at the sheer ecstasy of securing an interview, until you are told that it will be a video interview using skype. Panic sets in. Sweat runs down your brow, you are not very photogenic, you are the kind of person who gets nervous watching other people have photos taken, your nose looks big on video, what if they don’t like your wallpaper….

Relax and follow this guide to help smooth the whole thing out:

Avoid the fatal error, avoid complacency!

The first mistake many people make is the assumption that well at least I’m in a comfortable and familiar environment, so I can relax. No you cannot. I know people who have undertaken video interviews with a shirt and tie on their top half and pyjamas on the bottom. It doesn’t work, it is a psychological thing, it is a mind thing. You have to treat this exactly the same way you would a face to face formal interview. There is no room for complacency.

The Preparation

When you accept and confirm your telephone interview time, ensure if possible that they are calling you on a landline and ideally whilst you are at home, or at the very least where you have absolute privacy and peace and quiet with no distractions. Cell phones can be unreliable and you can guarantee that just when the interview is going really well, the network will crash.

Treat the telephone or video interview just as you would a face to face in their office, sorry I know I’m repeating myself, but it is critical. Research the company, their culture, their successes, their history. Visit social media sites such as  Linkedin and Facebook to see who works there, what they are saying, what their professional backgrounds are. It is a great feeling when you notice that their staff retention is well above average, that all the feedback, all the chatter is really positive and especially when you realise that many of them seem to be like you. Visit websites such as Glassdoor and see if anyone has posted a review about the organisation and the culture.

Read the job spec, understand it. If you haven’t got one then find one from a similar type of firm. If the one you have is limited in terms of detail then get on facebook or Linkedin and check out what people in that company are doing in that type of job, what have they got on their profiles.

Check Twitter to see what other noise or chatter is coming out of that organisation.

Really important is to check news and press releases. If the organisation has just announced a huge acquisition or an expansion plan, maybe an IPO you need to know and you need to show in the interview that you know.

Set the Stage

Okay so you have all the information, you have done the preparation and you are raring to go. If it is a video interview check your PC and make sure that your webcam works, get someone to skype test you and tell you how the setting looks. Move your desk or PC if you have to, you only have one chance to get this absolutely right.

If it is a telephone interview, choose somewhere to sit or stand where you are going to be comfortable. My preference is to stand, it prevents you from slouching, makes you more alert and in my case I always walk around when I am on the phone (it may be nervous energy or maybe it is just energy). It is very common for telephone interviews to run well over their allocated time, especially if they are going well, providing of course that you aren’t the one doing all the talking. So make sure you have some water available.

You equipment works, you have set up the location, you have notes to hand,there is a jug of water to one side. What next?

You and your personal appearance. Yes, regardless of whether it is a telephone or a video interview you need to prepare yourself. Have an early night the evening before, look good and feel sharp. Have a shower, dress appropriately, if you work in a suit and tie or a less formal environment then dress accordingly. It has a psychological impact, it works. If you are a guy, have a shave, comb your hair.

Finally do some facial and oral stretching execises. Sing a song, hum a tune, pull faces, stretch those muscles, laugh out loud and relaaaaaaaaax… People always look at me strangely when I recommend they pull faces at themselves in the mirror. It is however virtually impossible to do so without laughing, laughter releases hormones and peptides which relax you, make you feel better, look better and respond more better.

Here we go, you are all set….

More information on this subject can be found here: BBC – Skype Interviews

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Please feel free to share any ideas or suggestions that may improve this post and help people get the best results out of their interviews.