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How to plan your interview

Barndoor Strategy’s Roger Evans gives his advice on interview planning.

Most interviewees don’t look forward to the ordeal. They view it as a series of hurdles – an opening presentation, an easy first question, a tough question, a sneaky question, some final questions, then they are over the finishing line. The problem with this approach is that everyone makes it through the interview, but only one person gets the job.

That’s why I teach my clients to look at the interview not as a series of hurdles, but as a series of platforms on which they can proclaim their greatness. This needs careful planning – it takes a lot of preparation to look spontaneous.

Key to this approach are the job description and the person specification. These should clearly state the attributes that the interviewers are looking for. The first step is to list them.

You now need to compare your own experiences against this list. There should be plenty of matches – if there aren’t then why are you applying?

So, for example if ‘Working in a Team’ is specified, think of a time when you did this well. For a particular project the team worked on what was the problem? What did you contribute? What was the result?

If ‘Resilience’ is required, when did you face a setback? What did you do to recover? What was the outcome and what did you learn?

These examples not only prove your case, they also make your interview a unique and memorable experience for the panel.

With the examples listed, it’s time to anticipate the questions. These are likely to address the requirements in the job description. You should be able to match your evidence to the expected questions.

For the above examples you could expect:

Tell us about your approach to teamwork.

How do you respond to setbacks?

If there are some examples which are particularly strong or which don’t easily match the set questions, you should consider putting them in your initial presentation, or referring to them at the end of the interview when they ask if you have anything to add.

The aim is to leave the interview having given them every piece of important evidence on your list. A planned approach takes time but ensures that you won’t be kicking yourself after it is all over and wondering ‘Why didn’t I mention that?’