Interview Skills

Tips and Guidance - Interview Skills

  1. If you are applying for a management position, interviewers want someone who is able to mentor others and delegate. They are looking for a candidate that provides development through open feedback, is an effective role model, identifies learning opportunities for others and is succinct and follows clear logic.

  2. If you are applying for a leadership position, interviewers want a candidate who is perceived to be a leader by clients, peers and subordinates. Someone who is able to manage others by giving clear direction while exemplifying values and behaviours required by the organisation, leads by example, motivate and inspire others, manage conflict, be flexible in outlook, be open and willing to accept change and be future oriented, produce imaginative and original ideas and make links between seemingly unconnected issues.

  3. It is not advisable to attend an interview without some practice in interviewing techniques. Practise your interview skills by preparing answers to the kinds of questions you can always expect.
  1. During an interview:
  • Be pleasant without gushing
  • Maintain eye contact as looking away indicates uncertainty
  • Summarise by saying that you are interested in the job, are loyal, hardworking and strive for success
  1. Do not address the interviewer by his/her first name unless specifically requested to. Avoid – jokes, slang, profanity, do not chew gum or fiddle with anything in the office unless invited to do so.

  2. Do not go into any lengthy details concerning personal problems you may have and keep it relevant and to the point.

  3. If you do not know the answer, say so. Do not try and ad lib an inadequate response to questions – say that it is not within your field of expertise.

  4. Allow your face to reflect expressions – do not have a wooden expression. Maintain an interested and animated expression at all times.

  5. Start formulating your answer as they begin to ask the question. Draw on prepared questions you have or special statements you have prepared but listen carefully before responding appropriately.

  6. When you wish to shift the conversation to other areas, make use of phrases such as “Yes, but please remember that”, or “that can also be applied to..” or “that’s an interesting point”; “another interesting aspect is..”

  7. Be prepared. Off the cuff answers can be most damaging to your chances as you may inadvertently give inappropriate answers or omit salient points in your haste to appear alert and non-hesitant.

  8. Listen to the questions. You will irritate an interviewer if you answer a question that was not asked or if you digress by indulging in superfluous drivel.

  9. If a lengthy silence develops during the interview, it is wise to smile and remain silent yourself. This silence is often used by interviewers to assess if you can handle stress and still maintain your composure.

  10. If you are asked a personal question do not be afraid to tell the interviewer that you have never been asked a question like that before and that you would appreciate a moment to think about your answer. The interviewer will respect your candour and the fact that you think before you speak.

  11. How to answer tricky questions like “Why did you leave your last job?” This is a potential difficult question especially if there was some contention about your departure. Rather speak positively about them saying “I found that there was no scope for advancement and that I needed more of a challenge. Regardless of that, I gained valuable experience.”

  12. “Tell me about yourself?” Do not indulge in relating endless trivia and anecdotes concerning your childhood but at the same time, do not be too reticent in talking about yourself. Highlight your proficiencies.

  13. “Why would you like to work here?” You should know exactly why you want to work there. Volunteer your reasons even if the interviewer does not ask the question directly. Your reasons should be short and hard-hitting, using as much factual information as you can muster. Tell them why their company is your first choice.

  14. Sample questions you may want to ask: “Why are you looking for someone in this role now?” In explaining why this job cannot be done by a current employee, your interviewer will be giving you a valuable insight into what the job entails. Or “How many people have held this position in the last 5 years?” If there has been a high turnover, you may assume either that the job has certain problems attached to it or that promotions are frequent. Establish which of the two is the reason.