Interviews, Selection and Assessment

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1 Interviews, Selection and Assessment

2 Interviews Interviews are a key part of the recruiting process and it is crucial to be well prepared. Below you will find some tips and hints about the best way to prepare plus some links to further resources. Why interview candidates? Organisations interview candidates to find out: If they can do the job, do they have the skills and experience? Will they do the job, are they motivated? Do they fit in with the team and workplace culture? Types of interview Before an interview, it is a good idea to find out what you can about the organisation and people interviewing you, and how the interview will be conducted. If an interview is on the phone or over the internet we can provide a space for you to do that. For some jobs, you may be expected to make a presentation or answer questions based on a work related case study. Example Questions whatwilltheyask.co.uk has interview questions for a variety of jobs and sectors. kent.ac.uk/careers/interviews/mockivs.htm mock interviews and commonly asked questions More at sussex.ac.uk/careers/interviews

3 Questions There are two main types of questions: general and competency. General questions tend to be open eg tell me about yourself?, what are your strengths and weaknesses? These test you motivation for the role and organisation. It is a good idea to think about what you would say and say it out loud. This will help you to refine your thoughts and practise being clear and succinct. Competency based questions test your skills and experience eg describe a time when.... Typical competencies include creativity, analytical skills, teamwork, and leadership. You can find the competencies that the job role requires in the job specification and the organisation s website. Make sure you can give a couple of examples for each competency to illustrate your point. Answers It is a good idea to structure your answers to help the interviewer take in the information. There are various approaches including: STAR (good for competency based questions) S Situation. Briefly give the context. T Task. Give an outline of what you hoped to achieve. A Action. Describe what you did. Use active verbs. R Result. Explain the outcome and anything you have learned as a result. Top down Start with the main point you want to get across and then expand with some detail.

4 Before the interview Make sure you prepare Find out about the organisation and possibly the interviewer as well. This will give you an idea of what their focus might be. Remember it is a two way process Think of about 10 things you want to remember about you. Decide on your unique selling points (USPs) which will distinguish you from the competition. Know your CV inside out Re-read what you told the employer in your application. Ensure that you can expand on your written application: talking about your skills and experiences out loud will help you rehearse. Revise the job specification Remind yourself what the employer wants from the candidate and revise the job specification or profile. Do any last minute research on the organisation, eg have they been in the press lately? Plan what to wear A smart but low key outfit is best. Some organisations have a more relaxed approach to dress than others, but unless you are told to dress informally it is a good idea to wear a suit or equivalent. Dealing with nerves Some nerves are inevitable and employers will expect this so try not to worry too much. Being well prepared for questions as outlined above will help but also be prepared psychologically too. Top tips: look after yourself - Get plenty of sleep and eat healthily. take deep breaths - When we are nervous we tend to take shallow breaths which deprive our brains of oxygen. stay positive - Happy thoughts will put you in a positive frame of mind.

5 Making a good impression Initial impressions are especially important. Remember you are on show as soon as you enter the employer s premises. Be aware of how you come across, body language is incredibly important to how interviewers perceive you. First impressions walk tall and be grounded before you speak. make eye contact and smile. shake hands firmly. say who you are clearly. When the interview is underway sit reasonably upright. keep hands on show. maintain good eye contact. keep an open posture. minimise things you do when nervous like pen twiddling. speak clearly. remember to breathe! At the end of the interview Show your interest by asking some questions. You may have questions in advance or they may come out of the discussion but always ask about the role or the organisation. Avoid questions about salary and holidays unless the employer mentions them.

6 Selection tests Sometimes referred to as psychometric tests, selection tests are a way of testing your skills either individually or in a group situation. Tests can take a variety of forms depending on the job role and are usually timed eg giving a presentation, taking part in a group exercise, logical reasoning and maths, IT skills. Some selection tests will form part of a wider assessment centre (see later) or they may be a way of deciding who to interview eg online programming testing for roles in IT. Before the selection test: find out as much as you can about the tests you will take. practise similar tests under timed conditions so you will be used to working under pressure. revise the subject where you can eg maths and IT skills. make sure the employer knows if you have need any special provisions as they may allow extra time or be able to make adjustments. Taking the test: always follow the instructions for timing and format. ask if you are unclear about anything. keep calm and work as accurately as you can. if you get stuck move on to the next question. Books available We have a wide range of books available in the Careers and Employability Centre website, as well Example tests are available at

7 Assessment centres Some organisations run extended selection procedures lasting one to two days or longer called assessment centres. Usually these occur after first interviews but before the final selection, although they can be used as an initial method of choosing candidates to interview. They are normally held at an employer's premises or a hotel. Several assessors get to see you over a period of time and have the chance to observe how you deal with different situations. Assessment centres vary, but typically include: social /informal events A good chance for you to find out more about the employer but make sure you behave in a way that reflects well on you. selection tests and exercises Working individually or in groups you will have to answer questions, cope with problems, make decisions and extract information from different sources. giving a presentation Remember to speak to your audience, don t just read your notes, keep to the time limit, speak clearly and confidently. group tasks and case studies Usually with six to eight people. Lead or chair a group and make sure you get everyone involved. Avoid dominating the discussion. an interview Which may be in depth so prepare well.

8 Top tips 1. be yourself and join in with the activities as fully as you can. During the activity, try to ignore the observers as much as possible. 2. remember you are being assessed against the employer's criteria not competing against other candidates. 3. speak clearly when in groups and maintain eye contact. 4. do not dominate discussions and think before you speak. 5. keep in mind the skills the employers asked for in the job description. 6. show enthusiasm and interest. Behave as if you want the job and keep motivated throughout the day. 7. there will be different types of assessment involved. Even if you are not good at some tests you can excel at others. Assessment Centre resources available Book: How to succeed at assessment centres DVD: Selection Success in One, includes a section on Assessment Centres

9 Need more help? You can discuss your preparation for an interview, selection test, or assessment centre with a Careers Adviser. During term time we have appointments available every weekday and late opening on Wednesday evenings. You can book an appointment by calling us on , we are also available for drop-ins 11 am to 1 pm during term time. We run regular workshops on interviewing, selection and assessment during term time. Keep an eye on our events listing:

10 Further Resources Books and DVDs We have a large selection of books and DVDs covering the interview and selection process including lots of sample tests. Workshops Check for our regular workshops on interviews. Additionally we often have employer presentations on what they look for at interview. Web links Wiki Job has interview questions and assessment centre guides for many of the graduate recruiters: The University of Edinburgh has a good section on Assessment Centres including sample in-tray exercises: More information on our webpages

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