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Interview Tips: Secure that job!


20 minutes preparation can make all the difference! People don’t interview everyday! Lets face it, its not always easy. The purpose of this short article is to help you prepare fully for your interview.
Last Updated: 27-Aug-2010

“Lets make sure you have all the help you need, so you can claim what’s rightfully yours!”

The most important thing to remember about an interview is that it is a two-way relationship. You want the job and the interviewer wants to fill the position. Remember, you are both individuals, even though the interviewer is backed by a large organisation – he/she is not there to embarrass you, but to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, skills and qualifications and ability to do the job.

You’re both individuals – Stay relaxed!

1. What do you know about us?
Normally one of the first questions that an interviewer will ask. Important - do your homework. Look on their website and pick out 5 or 6 points you think are relevant to the company.
  • How long have they been established?
  • How many staff do they have?
  • In which therapeutic areas do they specialise?
  • R & D pipeline and study phases?
  • Where are they based? How many sites? Do they have an international presence?
By answering this question well you show a keen interest in the company. (Remember companies want to recruit people who truly want to work for them).

2. What do you know about the position for which you have applied?
Make sure you have a full understanding of the role; it’s you who will be doing the job after all.
(If you don’t know you’ve lost it already)

3. Run me through your career to date
Practice running through your CV at home with a friend or a partner. Focus on the relevant skills that you feel can be transferred to this role.

Reasons for leaving? Never be detrimental about previous jobs, always be positive about everything you’ve done. (No-one likes a moaner).

4. Strengths/Weaknesses
Watch out! These questions can raise their heads in a number of ways… don’t get caught out!

4.1 Strengths
A few examples
  • Why do you think you’d be good at this job?
  • Why should we choose you?
  • What makes you a good candidate?
All these questions are simply asking ‘What are your strengths?’
(If these come up more than once in the interview, don’t be scared to recap your answer)!
Think! What skills do you need for the job? Strengths have got to be relevant!

  • Planning and prioritisation skills
  • Communication skills
  • Organisational skills
Don’t just say them… Expand! Where did you use them in your previous employment? Why were they important? How did they affect the outcome of your work?

4.2 Weaknesses
Always have some weaknesses prepared, everyone has them and some interviewers will push for answers.
The best weaknesses are ones that can also be strengths.

  • I’m a perfectionist
  • I can’t delegate
(Remember always sandwich a weakness between two strengths! Leave the interviewer feeling that it’s nothing to be concerned about).
5. Do you have any questions for me?
It’s a good idea to have a few questions to ask, so prepare some beforehand. Maybe the interviewer has sparked some questions through the interview. There are many articles available on interview technique and how to prepare for some of the questions that may be asked of you. However, very little has been written on the types of questions you, as an interviewee, should ask the interviewer. Throughout the interview you will have concentrated on creating a good impression and will have delivered well thought out answers to difficult questions. Interviews should be treated in the same way as you would any business meeting and so it is as important to be prepared when you are asked if you have any questions. This is your opportunity to build upon the impression you have created with some good questions of your own and is a further chance to highlight your strengths and to show your enthusiasm.

I have a good all-round knowledge about the role and what it entails. However, how could I expect a normal day to pan out?
(By asking this sort of question, it shows the interviewer that you are actually already planning ahead).

1) Don’t ask questions about salary, holiday entitlement or other benefits. It’s not that these aren’t important, it’s just that the timing is wrong. You should be concentrating on what you can do for the company rather than what it can do for you.
2) Don’t press for an early decision. If you have other interviews or another job offer explain the situation openly and honestly. This will help the interviewer to come to a decision earlier if possible without undue pressure.
3) Don’t ask for an assessment of your performance at interview. Your feedback is an important way to understanding your behaviour and to improve future performance, but at the interview is not the right time. You may be given the chance to discuss this once you are informed of the interviewer’s decision.

1) Review your notes and bring up any relevant strengths or attributes that have not been discussed.
2) Review the job’s requirements and match them with your skills and experience.
3) Find out if this is to be your only interview and the decision making process, if this has not been discussed. Ask about the next interview in an honest, forthright manner.

Here are some examples of questions you could consider asking at interview. You will have to judge the appropriateness of these questions according to the way the interview has progressed and your level of comfort in asking them.

  • What type of individual is likely to flourish in this company/environment?
  • What values are important to this company?
  • From what has come from this interview, how do you think I would fit into this company in this role?
  • What characterises the company’s most successful employees?
  • What will the successful candidate contribute?
  • What are the success factors of the role? How is success measured?
  • What attributes do you think I possess that will be of particular interest to your company?
  • What would stop you progressing with my application?
  • What problems or challenges am I likely to encounter within my first few weeks?
  • What areas of the interview and our discussion would you like me to elaborate on further?
  • How have the circumstances changed since the recruitment process began?
  • When would you like me to come back to meet with some of your colleagues for another interview?
  • Can you offer me the job?
6. The Close
There are a few options to close an interview:
If you’re feeling confident:
  • Thank you for your time. Before I go, may I ask if you have any reservations about my application at present?
    (This allows the interviewer to let you know any concerns about your skills/experience which, in turn, gives you the opportunity to put their mind at ease before you leave the interview).
  • Thank you for your time, having this interview has confirmed that this is the position that I am really interested in pursuing. Can you let me know what the next stage is? When can I expect to hear whether or not my application has been successful?
    (Confirms your interest in the position).

  • Or simply:
  • Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.
Always leave the interview in the same polite assured manner with which you entered. Look the interviewer in the eye, give a firm handshake and don’t forget to thank them for seeing you.