Interview tips and advice

I had an interview yesterday at work – i applied for a job promotion (I was a social worker with older people – in my new job I take on some management responsibilities, and it focuses on working with people who have dementia.) I got the job, and my feedback afterwards was good, so i thought I would share my tips and advice!

Application form:

1. Seen a job you are interested in? Not sure if it suits you? My first tip would be to read the first basic information, then skip and read the last page (the job specification.) this is a list of requirements for the job. If you fit what they are looking for then go for it. Don’t be afraid – a bit of confidence goes a long way!

2. When writing an application form, I always make sure I address the requirements in the job spec. It is usually broken down into headings, such as ‘experience,’ ‘skills and abilities’ etc. In the additional information I do the same headings, and then address each point to show how I meet each requirement. It’s okay to miss one or two, and if you have already addressed it somewhere else miss it out, but address anything that you haven’t already. I find this organises my thoughts, and gives them all the information they could need. I’ve always had good feedback for doing this, and am happy to give more information – if you do want more information on this point leave me a comment and I can email you a bit more information.

3. When possible give yourself time to do a good application. It takes me 4-5 evenings to complete a form properly – I like to feel happy with everything I’ve written and so take my time. When you’ve finished, proof read it one last time before you send it.

You get an interview. This is the scary bit, where the nervousness begins! I really struggle to control my nerves, so here are my tips for it.

Preparation:

1. Prepare a bit. Not too much though – I’ve made the mistake before of going really in depth with preparation and it didn’t really help me as i focused more on the ‘facts’ than on selling myself). Read through the job description, maybe research a little bit about what the job is about. A little knowledge can really help in an interview.

2. In your head prepare a few answers to possible questions. One that will more than likely be asked is ‘why do you want this role’ or ‘what is your understanding of this role?’ I would say prepare a rough answer to this in your head – I think of a few key words and then it reminds me when my mind goes blank of what I am wanting to say. Also think about your strengths, your weaknesses, and ways to turn weaknesses into strengths. (I talked about how I am not naturally good at challenging others, but over time I have become better at this, and have learnt over time of how I can challenge people effectively while keeping up a good relationship with them. I was honest about my weakness, but turned it around to show that I am learning to do it now.)

3. Feel confident. I bought something new to wear for my interview – I wore a dress, and I felt really confident in it, and this made me come across more confidently in my interview. If you can’t afford something new, just look through what you have in advance and find something that you feel confident wearing, and is giving across a ‘professional’ image of yourself.

4. Keep busy beforehand. Luckily I have kids, so didn’t have time before my interview to think too much about it, other than a couple of evenings and a bit of time when i was driving. When thinking of interviews I feel sick and shaky, so for me this was a positive that i didn’t think too much about it.

The interview:

1. Be on time (5-10 minutes early is perfect!)

2. Be yourself. This is all you can ever be – be friendly, and it’s even fine to admit you are nervous. Nobody likes interviews, and the interviewers are aware of this.

3. Remember, the interviewers want to help. They want you to be good enough for the post, and will help where they can (mostly!) to get you to expand on answers. They’re just people too, they’re not looking to trip you up.

4. Be honest. I was honest about both my strengths and weaknesses – I really wanted the post and made sure this came across in my interview.

5. Remember the simple answers too! It’s easy to want to show your knowledge, and go in depth. But don’t forget the basics – that you listen, that you have good people skills, good communication skills etc. give examples if you can – show them who you are.

6. I’ve just said it, but when you can give an example. If you’ve done something before that links to a question, tell them. I talked about cases where I’ve made a difference for example, and this helps them to see how you work in real life.

7. Ask for the question to be repeated if you need it. I did this a couple of times – it gave me a bit more time to think about my answer, and to be clear about what I wanted to say.

After the interview:

1. Try not to cringe at all you did or didn’t say!! Okay – this is impossible, but just try 🙂 even though I got the job, I’m still cringing a bit even now at a couple of answers where I got a bit off track, and did or didn’t say something I wish I had / hadn’t!)

2. Don’t worry. In the past I did an interview where I felt I really messed up (I’m not naturally good at interviews, and I struggled.) I didn’t think I’d got it, but actually they gave me a chance and I got that job – my feedback then was that although I needed some guidance and support they had seen something in me and felt I could be good at the job. So even if you feel that all is lost, it isn’t.

I hope all of this helps – I know it’s horrible, I find interviews one of the hardest things to do, so I thought I’d write down my own experience in the hope that it helps just one other person!

Good luck
Xxx

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