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So you’ve been selected for the interview.

In many respects, despite your CV still remaining central to the process insofar as it will be reference document in the interview, the process has moved beyond the CV and now rests on how you conduct yourself in the interview.

The different structure and format of the interviews can be loosely grouped into two types.  Formal and informal.

The formal interview will ask the candidate a set of prepared questions, often competency based, which are designed to draw out work history examples to provide evidence of competency levels. 

Every candidate will be asked the same set of questions, often in the same order, and the process is deliberately standardised to allow a like for like comparison.

Formal interviews, more often than not, will have more than one interviewer and can be in a panel format, where the candidate is faced with three, four or even six interviewers.  This said they can be conducted with a single interviewer.

Informal interviews are interviews where the recruiter does not prepare standard questions.  Typically, the recruiter will use the CV document as a launch pad to ask questions, asking the candidate to run through the CV.  This format creates a more discussion based meeting.  This sort of approach, when adopted, tends to be used by hiring line managers rather the HR/Recruitment teams.

The formal interview process has the potential to be more unnerving or unsettling and conversely the informal interview has the potential to be more relaxing or even enjoyable.

However, the informal interview has more inherent risks than the formal interview.

The formal interview is designed to extract the required information from every candidate.  It offers all candidates a level playing field.

The informal interview, as a consequence of its inconsistent approach, runs the risk of not giving every applicant the opportunity to set out their case for having all the competencies required.  For example, if certain competencies or work history are not evident on the CV, the recruiter may assume the candidate does not have these competencies, will not ask the question and will mark the applicant as having a shortfall without discussing the issue.

Set out below is part of our guide for preparing for an interview, how to conduct yourself in an interview and how to end an interview, ensuring you have separated yourself out from the pack in a positive manner. 


Overall Approach

Think of this meeting as a sales pitch.  You are selling your labour services to a potential buyer – your future employer.

You need to ensure you set out the required competencies and experience and you need to persuade the recruiter of the depth and length of this expertise.


Research the Employer

It’s very important you have researched who and what your future employer is.  Reading their website is not enough.

If you really want the job, make sure you know facts about your future employer which are not published on their website which are positive.

More often than not you will be asked about what you know the organisation, division and department.  When you answer, explain what you have learnt from their website and then explain what you have learnt doing further research – i.e. sign post your additional effort.

Write down your research in bullet points on a pad.


Prepare your Answers

Refer back to the job description and break it down into its competency component and experience type parts and write it out on your pad.

After each competency/experience type write down three examples from your work history which clearly match the competency.  Make them detailed, real life, anecdotal examples.  They need to be rich in detail, times, dates and people mentioned, with a narrative containing what went well, what was challenging and what you learnt from the episode/example.  If you are able to, choose examples which mirror as close as possible the business area of the future employer.

If/when you identify shortfalls in your CV when compared to required competencies and experience types make a list of these shortfalls.  After each shortfall set out a mitigation strategy such as formal training or colleague shadowing.  Remember you are at the interview stage so they will be aware the shortfall exists which indicates it is not problematic.  More often than not, at this stage, it is not the existence of the shortfall which is the challenge but how you respond to the question about how you will minimise its impact.

Finally write down the questions you intend to ask the interviewer.  There is a section below which deals with what sorts of questions to ask.

You are prepared for the interview.


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