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How To Succeed In Interviews

Source: NextPharmaJob.com
Published: 13/02/12
Following on from the article we posted about the do's and don'ts of a good CV/Resume, we carry on with interview do's and don'ts. Some of this stuff will seem obvious but you'd be amazed at how candidates conduct themselves in interviews...

Interview Do's
  • Arrive on time or a little earlier if possible
  • Stand and shake the interviewers hand when they enter the room
  • Smile during the interview, even if your interviewer doesn't
  • Show willingness to learn and progress
  • Be assertive without being aggressive
  • Switch your mobile off before the interview
  • Prepare 10 relevant questions, you'll probably cover 5

Interview Don'ts

  • Don't be late for the interview
  • Don't be unprepared
  • Don't answer questions with just "Yes" or "No"
  • Don't over-emphasise money or discuss salary in the 1st interview
  • Don't say negative things about previous employers

For every responsibility/requirement on the job specification, ensure you have at least one example of an experience or a transferable skill that covers that requirement for the interview.

Questions to Employers

The interview is a two-way process. As well as the employer interviewing you, you are also interviewing your prospective employer. Remember, employers ask questions to get information out of you - but it is a two way process - make sure you tell them the information you want them to hear. Prepare questions prior to the interview:

  • What will my role entail?
  • How has this position become vacant?
  • How does my role fit into the structure of the overall department?
  • Who will I report to?
  • What are the opportunities for further training?
  • What is the next step?
  • What does my daily routine involve?
  • How might I influence my own future in the company?
  • How does the culture of this team, this organisation compare to others?
  • What is it about this department and organisation that you enjoy?

Closing the Interview

Ensure that you thank the interviewer and shake their hand 

Typical Interview Questions

Q: Tell me about yourself?
(Interviewer thinks: I want to hear you talk!)
A: This is a conversation starter and is nearly always asked. Talk about your qualifications, career history and range of skills. Particularly emphasise those skills that are most relevant to the position on offer.

Q: Describe your achievements to date.
(Interviewer thinks: Are you successful?)
A: Another common question, so prepare beforehand. Select an achievement that is career related. Identify the skills you used in this situation and quantify the benefit.

Q: Has your career met your expectations?
(Interviewer thinks: Are you confident, happy, positive, ambitious?)
A: Answer must be a resounding "YES", however, if you feel you are moving too slowly, then give reasons for this. Qualify your answer.

Q: What decisions do you find difficult to make?
(Interviewer thinks: Are you decisive? Do you have a human side?)
A: Your answer must not display weakness. Focus on decisions that have to be made without sufficient information. This will show your positive side.

Q: Tell me the most challenging situation you have faced recently and how you dealt with it? (Interviewer thinks: Are you logical? Do you show initiative? What is your definition of difficult?)
A: This is a trap question. To avoid it select a difficult work situation that was not caused by you, the options available, how you selected the appropriate one and why and how you resolved it and what the outcome was. Ensure that it is positive.

Q: What are your strengths?
(Interviewer thinks: I hope you're honest, what have you got that's different? How can I use you in the team? What value will you add to the company?)
A: You are going to get asked this question, so there is no excuse for not being prepared. Discuss your main strengths. List three or four ways they could benefit your employer. Strengths to consider include technical proficiency, ability to learn quickly, determination, positive attitude and your ability to relate to people and work as a team. Provide examples and be prepared to back them up.

Q: What are your major weaknesses?
(Interviewer thinks: I hope you're honest, what aren't you interested in? What will you need help with? What's your self-awareness like?)
A: Don't say "none" - we all have weaknesses. There are two options available when asked such a question - use a professional weakness such as lack of experience on your part in an area that is not essential to the job on offer. The second option is to describe a personal or professional weakness that could also be considered a strength and the steps that you have taken to combat this.

Q: Why are you leaving your current employer?
A: Should be a straightforward answer - looking for more challenge, responsibility and experience. Do not be negative in your reasons for leaving, positive reasons are better.

Q: Why do you want to work for this company?
(Interviewer thinks: Are you prepared, knowledgeable? What's the image of the company externally?)
A: Show you have researched into the firm's position in the market, what the company's strategy is, how long the particular department you are interviewing for has been around and what their corporate image is looking to project.

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