This post is the third of several where I will share the information I picked up while interviewing Tanya Clonan from Resumes Plus. She is an expert in the field of job search and resume creation and I have picked her brain on everything from what to do while you are still on leave to what to wear to an interview to what to include on your resume.
One of the big stresses people feel building up as they plan their re-entry to paid work is the job interview. If you have been out of the work force for a while it could be a long time since you last interviewed for a position.
First of all, try not to stress too much. Each interview will give you a chance to improve your skills and find your groove. Practice as much as you can in advance in terms of relaxing yourself and knowing what you want to share. Trust in yourself – you are a worthy applicant.
Be aware that not all interviews occur in person these days – some are via phone and others even via email exchanges.
I asked Tanya for some tips and information to share with you and here are some of the key points I think will help you:
Professional vs. Personal information:
- When discussing your work history it is okay to include personal details, but only in relation to explaining your actual work details. Unless asked a direct question that draws out your personal information simply leave it out.
Most often you will find one of two types of interviews – behavioural or conversational in style:
- Behavioural style tends to appear more for government jobs and there is often a panel of interviewers, more structured and relates specifically to the selection criteria you needed to address in your application.
- Conversational style will be less formal and will flow as you go as one question might lead to another or uncover information the interviewer wants to ask follow up questions. You are likely to be asked behavioural style questions as well, it is just a more relaxed flow to the meeting.
- One example of how this can vary from topic to topic consider the 2 different ways to address the “so tell me about yourself” type of question. In a behavioural interview it would likely appear as a “Tell me about a time when you x,y, z” and in a conversational style interview it would lend itself to delivering an “elevator pitch” style answer.
Remember that you are there to sell yourself:
- Just as your resume is a marketing tool to get the interview, you are now there to put forward what makes you the right person for this job.
- To do that requires you have a clear understanding of the role and what skills you have that will satisfy their needs – do your research.
- Practice before hand so you are comfortable talking about yourself confidently.
What to wear – a day where fashion actually counts no matter the industry:
- Know the industry – so many companies in Australia have let go of the standard suit (not law, financial or real estate though and many others it is company specific).
- Make sure whatever you wear is comfortable and fits you well- you want to be able to sit in it and feel at ease, you want to dress like “you” just the professional version of you.
- Simple pants/skirt + shirt combination works for most offices – make sure they are quality items, simple shoes (court style low heel etc would cover most offices from conservative to creative)
- Don’t go for lots of colour, but avoid black and white as it is too close to catering uniforms
- If it is something you would wear to a nice dinner out then it is not professional enough (this is a good litmus test)
- You can show a bit more personality or colour with accessories, but you don’t want to be distracting to the interviewer or end up fidgeting with bracelets and such.
- Natural make up and hair works best – again, possibly not what you would wear for a night out with friends.
Have at least a few questions ready to ask your interviewer:
- The aim is to gain some information while showing you actually know something about the company. Don’t ask questions that make you look like you don’t know what the job / role is.
- You can ask how the position relates to the other areas of the organisation – what departments will you interact with?
- If you would have multiple roles / tasks you can ask about the split between the roles (in terms of % time spent on them), who you report to, get an understanding of the priorities / systems, who oversees your work / prioritizing.
- You can ask at this stage about the rest of the recruitment process – when will you hear from them, next steps if any.
- If it has not been covered in the advertising you can ask about travel requirements, their position on flexibility if it is important to you (flexibility is the next post in this series).
Do you talk money?:
- If no salary has been specified and there is not a second interview in the process you may bring up the remuneration package at the very end of the interview if you felt the interview went well (and can’t wait). Otherwise wait for the job offer and discuss the specifics then.
- If they ask you what you are looking for mention the high end of the range given unless you are at a great disadvantage
Lift recruitment has a post that shares some great sample questions.
Career Mums have some interview tips within this post about returning to work.
Do you have any tips to share about interviewing for a job or have some great sample questions to share? Tell us about your last great / awful interview experience.
Find your simple,
Return to work series:
Getting started - with Allison Tait (and giveaway of Career Mums book which ends July 19)
While on leave - career breaks
On Flexibility - temp jobs, flexible hours etc