July 14, 2015, by Laura Estrop

The Secret Interviewer – part three

By Jennifer Balloch, Employability Officer

Are you looking for the secrets to interview success? Well you’ve come to the right place. In this week’s blog, our secret interviewers share their stories around candidates’ preparation and presentation skills. We hope that their stories will inspire you to prepare and put your best self forward so you shine at that interview!  

Be enthusiastic!

“I was once interviewing for a pharmacist role at a local hospital. I began the process by asking all candidates why they wanted the job. The answer that I always remember comes from one candidate who told me that they loved Nottingham and couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. His enthusiasm was genuine and he had really done his research, not only about the job role, but also about the city and the wider implications of how that would affect the role. I think being really positive and enthusiastic about whom you’re applying to and researching all aspects of the role is very important. It sets applicants apart, showcases individuality and personality and helps the employer imagine working with them in the future.”

What’s that buzzing noise?

“I was once interviewing a candidate who had made an excellent start, she had answered all the questions really well, gave lots of examples and was really impressing the panel. All of a sudden, we hear a soft vibration, a clearly audible buzzing sound from a phone on silent. We decide to ignore the interruption and continued with the interview, however a few moments later, it started again. The candidate apologised and asked if she could ‘sort it out’, she then stood up, grabbed her bag walked to the door and threw her bag into the corridor! The panel were stunned, we advised her that she retrieve her bag and turn her phone off. Unfortunately the momentum and rapport she had built with us was all but ruined after this incident and we were all distracted. She didn’t get the job. It was such a shame and an easy mistake to avoid. The lesson of the day – turn your phone off.”

Any questions?

“I have interviewed loads of candidates but one in particular stands out. At the end of the interview, I asked the candidate if she had any questions for the panel. She responded by asking where we (the panel) thought the strategic direction of the company was headed. I must admit, we were all a little stunned initially. What she had demonstrated was a genuine interest in the organisation; she listened attentively and then asked a couple of follow-up questions. Turning the interview into more of a conversation, this further demonstrated the candidate’s communication and interpersonal skills.”

Draw on your experience

“About three years ago, I was interviewing for a senior IT role along with the IT Director. The interview was competency based so we were looking for examples of where the candidate could demonstrate certain skills and showcase lots of experience in their answers. Unfortunately, one particular candidate only drew his experience from a project he had managed over 15 years ago; this is not the best approach for any role, but especially not in IT where systems are constantly changing. My advice for anyone about to embark on a competency-based interview is to plan ahead and think about what questions you could be asked. This will also allow you to prepare various examples of how you can demonstrate particular skills. Bear in mind where you are drawing your examples from and keep them varied, you could use anything from university projects, work experience, volunteering etc. But remember to keep them recent!”

Keep an eye out for our final instalment of The Secret Interviewer next week! Until then, we want to know, have you got any interview tips or blunders you would like to share with us? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

If you need any help with interview preparation then have a look at our website. Remember you can always book an appointment with a careers adviser to talk about an interview you have coming up. 

Photo: StartupStockPhotos

Posted in Applying For JobsInterviews