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Interview - General Interview

Interview - General Interview

What does a recruiter hope to achieve in an interview?

The recruiter wants to:
  • Assess your compatibility and your competence. This means whether your personality will allow you to fit into the team, organisation, etc. and from a technical / vocational point of view - whether you have the necessary skills / experience to manage the job?
  • Supply you all the relevant information about the company and the job.
  • Be convinced of your genuine interests and enthusiasm for the job.
  • Believe that you are the solution to their problems. They want to answer the question: "Why should I hire you?"

Note: You may be interviewed more than once and by different interviewers before the recruiter is satisfied that you have achieved all of the above criteria.

Before the interview...
  • Be punctual.
  • Should you be unable to attend, send apologies to the firm; for campus interview, inform Careers and Placement Section, CEDARS with apologies.

When attending job interviews...
  • Be natural.
  • Be interesting.
  • Be specific.
  • Present interviewers with reasons to hire you.
  • Support what you say with evidence.

After the interview...
  • Follow up with a quick note by email, thanking the interviewer for spending time with you.
  • Send your feedback about this year's interview format to CEDARS. It will help the Career Consultants prepare for training next year's candidates.
How to excel with questions?
  • Do not try to guess what the recruiter wants to hear.
  • Do not try to find a model answer.
  • Be natural and sincere instead.
  • Structure your reply in a logical manner, covering as many aspects as possible.
  • Consider organising your answers in this manner: what, how, why, result, and then so what for the recruiter.

What would the interviewers do with my answers?
  • From your answers they will make a judgment about your abilities and attributes. They will match those against what the firm needs in their new recruits.

What preparation?

  1. Academic attainment
    Academic attainment is important but it is not easy to prove that you are the suitable candidate. The interviewers will be much more interested in finding out about your personality, the way you think and your career plans, and forming an opinion on whether they like you and whether you will fit into their organisation and make the contribution they are looking for.
  2. The interviewers
    You cannot be guaranteed to be interviewed by an expert. Some interviewers will be more nervous than you. They may talk too much about themselves, and not have the experience to ask the sort of questions that will help you talk about yourself. Be patient as a good listener.
  3. Number of interviewers
    You may be interviewed by more than one person at a time.
  4. Be yourself
    Recruiters do not employ people they do not like. Being yourself and projecting your personality is vital. Interviewers rarely recruit people they dislike even if they are highly qualified for the job.
  5. Difficult questions
    Interviewers will ask difficult questions but their aim is not to trick you, but to see how you handle yourself when faced with a challenge.
  6. Dress up for an interview
    It is wise to wear conservatively, unless you are very sure of the way people dress in that particular position you are applying for, e.g. if you want to become a fashion designer, a conservative dress may suggest you have no flair.
  7. Hidden questions
    The important thing is to recognise the hidden question or concern, e.g. "Why do you want to work here?" The recruiters do not want to hear that you like the pay and conditions. What they are really asking is "Why should I hire you?" "What contributions can you make?"
  8. Research the company
    It is very important to research the company before the interview. Otherwise, how do you know what contributions you can make? Moreover, a likely early question is "What do you know about us?"
  9. Asking questions in an interview
    By asking questions you demonstrate enthusiasm and knowledge. However, beware of the type of questions you ask; they should be about the company and the contribution you can make, but not about salary and benefits. Also make sure you don't ask questions you could have answered for yourself if you had done more research.
  10. Salary negotiation
    There is plenty of time to talk about salary when the job has been offered to you. Then you are negotiating with more strength because they have stated that they want you.
  11. Never bluff
    This opens the way for a skilled interviewer to expose your lack of knowledge and your lies. Admit not having a particular experience / skill etc. but describe similar experiences or ways in which you intend to acquire the relevant skills.
  12. Solving problems in an interview
    You cannot be expected to give a solution to a problem when you do not know about the situation, details and personnel involved. Employers will be wary of candidates who simply give instant answers without giving careful thoughts. It is better to analyse the available information, and give an outline of how you would go about tackling such a problem in general.
  13. Your first impression to employers
    The recruiters may have many preconceived ideas about you from your CV. However, remember they have invited you for interviews so the first impression they have towards you must be favourable.
  14. Identify your key selling points
    By comparing the position's profile with your own, you can identify the areas that will interest the interviewers. Then prepare and practise your approach.
  15. Negative effect of "talking too much about yourself"
    Talking too much about yourself can defeat yourself.
The best preparation for interviews

There are neither set questions nor model answers to interviews. Do not try to outguess the interviewer.

The best preparation for interviews is:
  • to prepare evidence from past experience to illustrate your qualities along the criteria required by the recruiting company;
  • to attend the interview as if you are meeting new friends who need someone to help them with a project; before the meeting find out what they need; at the meeting introduce yourself and discuss with the person how you could be useful to them.

Interview - General Interview