The Selection Process
Most employers will use a variety of different selection techniques but the most common will include an interview, possibly a selection centre and even some psychometric tests.
Probably the most common is the interview, so we'll statr there with some key things to bear in mind during the interview.
First of all there are many different types of interview. You may be competency based interviewed, where you are asked questions designed to discover if you have the competencies/skills required for the job. You may have a technical interview, where you have to show that you have the technical skills required for the role. And finally, you may have a structured interview where you may be asked a set of questions that are asked of every candidate. So the first thing is to find out what sort of interview you are being invited to.
Ensure that you do your homework before the interview. Find out as much as you can about the company and the job you are applying for. This ensures you are best placed to ask questions and answer questions about the company.
Be sure you know your CV or application form in detail. Take a copy with you to the interview so you can refer to it. Nerves can affect how your brain works so having it to hand will help. If it is a competency based interview map the competencies against your experience so you have lots of examples to hand.
Get someone to give you some interview practice with the most common questions you will be asked. This will help you find out what works and what you may need to rethink.
Prepare questions to take with you. Good ones to ask include the future direction of the business or future goals. It can show you have done your homework and are interested in the company.
There are some questions that can cause interviewees real problems. But with some preparation they shouldn’t be a problem for you. Here we list a few of them with some ideas of how you could respond
Tell me about yourself? This is often a first question to help you relax and give the interviewer a good starting point. But it can be a killer. If you are nervous you can ramble on or simply not know where to start. Practice this answer. Use the structure of your CV to give a short and punchy answer. You wouldn’t want to speak for more than about 3 minutes. The interviewer will pick up on things they want more detail on.
What are your weaknesses? The danger here is either to touch a nerve by choosing something crucial to the role or to say that you have none! A good answer is to choose something that is a development need but can also be perceived as a strength. An example is that you like to be organised and can get a little frustrated if things don’t go according to plan. You know you need to regroup but it is frustrating. Have your answer prepared. For a personal trainer it could be getting frustrated when someone cancels at the last minute.
If you were an animal what would you be? Always a tricky one. If you say rabbit then what you see as cute and fluffy an interviewer could see as weak and vulnerable! Think about this with regard to the role you are applying for. A dog, particularly certain breeds, can be a good answer, words like loyal, strong, fit and bright are good ones. Think also of a horse-again loyal, hardworking, and proud. Watch a lion, could be perceived as aggressive and predatory.
There are some questions which are so common you really must be prepared for them.
Competency based questions
If the interview is competency based then you will be asked to demonstrate where and when you have demonstrated a certain skill. So you may be asked questions like ‘Give me an example of where you have lead people’, Give me an example of an event you were responsible for planning’. Tell me of a time when you had to deal with conflict and assert your views’. The key here is to have examples to hand and be able to withstand probing of them.
- What are your goals, where do you want to be 5 years’ time? This is a common one, where employers will want to see whether you are looking for a career or a job. This can have its pitfalls. Look too ambitious and the employer may not think you will hang around for long. Don’t mention any ambition and they may not think they can’t develop you.
- Why do you want to work here? Pretty basic stuff to have up your sleeve. You need to show here that you will add value to the business over other candidates and you understand the business and its needs.
- What salary are you seeking? Be aware of the salary that has been advertised. Talk honestly but be realistic.
- What will you bring to this role? Here is your chance to sell yourself and you must take it. Be succinct but pack some punches, your competitors will!
As well as an interview you may also be invited to an assessment or section centre. This is a way of an employer seeing the skills you say you have. This is usually a day where you will take part in a group exercise with other candidates, possibly a one to one, an interview and maybe some psychometric tests.
It is difficult to prepare for an assessment centre because you are working with other candidates and that dynamic can’t be predicted but there are a number of things you can do. Ask as much as you can about what will happen on the day and the skills that are being looked for. You will therefore know what to expect and be aware of the behaviours that your potential employer is looking for.
Overall, relax, be yourself, be aware that you are being observed.
Many employers use this to ascertain your personality type and your preferences. This can be useful in their decision making. Again, these cannot really be prepared for as you cannot alter your personality to suit a particular test. Relax and be honest. Also, ask if you can have feedback following the test.