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HR Interview Guide

HR Interview Guide

Boyd Breg Career Advice

In this digital age, it is not just face to face interviews that are conducted. Before any interview is set, you should ask what kind of interview you will be undertaking so that you have time to prepare yourself and find that “I am going to get the job” outfit. We always recommend that you familiarise yourself with these helpful interview tips and hints – be prepared or be prepared to fail! 
 
Telephone interviews 
 
Telephone interviews are interesting in that you aren’t able to use any of the non-verbal communication that people use with each other day in, day out. 
 
So, what are our key hints and tips? 
 
Well there are 3 really, the first and most important is to pick the right time and place. You don’t want to be somewhere where you’ll be distracted, where the other person cannot hear you or where there is a risk of someone walking in, so try not to use one of the meeting rooms in your office or a noisy café! 
 
The second is, speak clearly, slowly and of a sensible volume. Again, you don’t want to make it difficult for the person on the other end of the phone to understand what you are saying. 
 
The third and final one, have a conversation. You wouldn’t answer the phone normally and launch straight into questions! How are you? Have you had a good day? – anything like that. Develop a little bit of a rapport, spend some time talking to the individual and then get into the interview component. 
 
Online interviews 
 
We are now more connected than ever, and time differences are very rarely a problem with the option of an online video conference. FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, WebEx…the applications are endless.
 
These interviews offer some real benefits particularly where the interviewer and interviewee are in completely different locations which is not so uncommon nowadays. Talent is increasingly globally mobile and indeed in Frazer Jones that is something we specialise in. A high percentage of the placements that we make are actually involving relocating talent from one country to another. 
 
So how should we use video conferences? 
 
Well firstly, think about where you are going to do the interview. Will you have a nice stable internet connection so that you are not worried about technical failures? Is the background going to be neutral, calm and not distracting the interviewer from you? Don’t do it in a location where people might be walking around behind you. Do it in a nice quiet room where you are going to have the ability to be completely focused. 
 
Think about what you wear. If you would wear a suit and a tie to go and interview with this particular client, wear a suit and tie. If you would wear something more relaxed, then dress more relaxed! You can find out this information prior to the interview either from your recruitment consultant or the HR team at the company you are interviewing with. 
 
Make sure that you have notes to hand and a pen and paper to add to these as you chat and don’t forget to open up with friendly conversation. Don’t fire away with questions immediately, they are not just seeing if you can do the job but assessing you for a good company fit – be yourself!
 
You want to focus on taking away any distractions or any points of difference in the VC to a face to face interview, so you can focus on the important thing, you as the candidate and your skills and abilities that you can bring to the company. 
 
Face to face interviews
 
Even with all of the technology available today, companies still often prefer to arrange an interview face to face. This is a really great way to leave an amazing first impression of yourself to the interviewer. This could be at the offices or out at a lunch, dinner or drinks depending on how formal or informal the interviewer sees fit. 
 
How do you prepare for an interview?
 
In most cases, your recruitment consultant should be able to assist you with your preparation but conducting your own research will definitely help.
 
Know the company. Look into the organisation’s performance, study their website, blogs, social media sites and research relevant articles on their recent activity. Have they won awards recently? Have they made any significant new hires? Trade publications are also another good source of information, as are any existing employees you may know.
 
Do you know where you are going? Check the address and save it in your phone. If you don’t know the area and can’t find it on a map, call your consultant for directions. Give yourself lots of time and aim to arrive 10 minutes early particularly if you are relying on public transport.
 
Call your recruitment consultant at least the day before and get a briefing on the job including who you are seeing and go through any job description. They should also be able to help you with the type of interview, the personality of the interviewer or with any other information that you may need. Make sure you call the recruitment consultant straight after your interview and relay all information back whilst it is fresh in your memory.
 
Make sure you know what is in your CV (see our CV/Resume tips for more information). It is amazing how many people fail at interview because they haven’t read their CV recently. It is important to be able to discuss any aspect of your CV such as why you studied a particular course at university, or the part that you played in a particular project (also make sure that you can discuss any overall business aims). Make sure you remember any relevant dates or qualifications.
 
The interview is a two-way street. As well as ensuring that you ’sell’ yourself, you should also be considering questions for the interviewer on aspects of the role, such as prospects for career development and the corporate culture.
 
Do you know who you will be meeting? Check the profile of the interviewer via the organisation’s website and/or LinkedIn.
 
What questions can I expect to be asked?
 
These are all deliberately ‘open’ questions, in other words you cannot answer them with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • Why do you want to leave your current organisation?
  • Why are you interested in joining this organisation?
  • What will you miss most in your current position?
  • What types of people do you work well with/not work well with?
  • What would you say have been your greatest successes in your current position?
  • What would you have done differently in your current position?
  • Give us examples of how your management style has been effective?
 
What questions should I ask my interviewer? Some good questions to ask may include:
 
  • Why has the position become available?
  • What is the culture of your organisation?
  • What is the policy of your company on training and development?
  • What are the future plans of the company?
  • Who do you regard as your main competitors?
  • What type of employee is historically successful in your company?
  • What have you done that shows initiative in your current position?
  • How would your team describe you?
  • What are your career goals?
  • How are you at prioritising?
  • Give examples of your delegation skills.
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What is the most difficult thing you have ever done at work?
  • Will you be available to travel during the week?
  • What do you think your current firm will do when you resign?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • How do you appraise the performance of your employees?
  • What would I expect to be involved in during my first 3/6/12 months?
  • What are the long-term prospects for the successful applicant?
  • Is there a possibility of working overseas?
  • Ask about the interviewer’s background. People always like to talk about themselves and this gives you the chance to gather your thoughts.
 
How should I close the interview?
 
It is important to leave the interviewer with a positive impression - thank them for the opportunity to meet with them and for their time. If you are still interested in the position, make sure that they know. If they ask if you are interested – don’t say “I’ll think about and get back to you”. Be positive and say yes.
 
Immediately afterwards, note down your thoughts on the interview and any questions that you might have while they are still fresh in your mind.
 
Call your recruitment consultant as soon as you can with honest feedback. The sooner you do this, the sooner they can speak to the organisation to find out what they are thinking.
 
At all times stay in touch with your recruitment consultant who should relay positive or negative feedback. They will prepare you for the next meeting and give you help and advice at all stages. Remember that recruitment consultants will be highly experienced in the complete recruitment life cycle from interview through to offer, acceptance/rejection and resignation. Use all their knowledge and experience to help you make the most of the recruitment process, the company and see whether they have any reference to behaviours or competencies that they look for when hiring.
 
If you didn’t find what you were looking for, why not read our other HR advice blog posts?