Making sure you are prepared for an interview is one of the things you can’t afford to mess up or slack on. If you really want a job make sure you prepare for the interview.
Making sure you are prepared for an interview is one of the things you can’t afford to mess up or slack on. If you really want a job make sure you prepare for the interview. Here are some tips.
Ultimately all the technology, disciplinary proceedings and legal regulations in the world cannot protect against someone who lacks integrity or self-knowledge.
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Most interviewers think that way too, so you can expect plenty of questions based around your character, in particular your integrity. These questions often come in the form of moral dilemmas, such as Tell me about a time when your supervisor asked you to do something you knew to be morally wrong. It’s a dilemma because you either disobeyed your boss or you did something dubious. But presumably you opted to do one or the other—perhaps by doing what you were told, or by standing up to your supervisor. Either way, your true north is revealed. Very often your chosen course of action to resolve the dilemma is less important to the interviewer than showing that you knew what you were doing and why.
The best way to tackle a character question is to show that you make conscious and clear decisions according to a set of values that you’ll bring with you to the new company, and that you can live with the consequences of your values.
There are certain things that a résumé can reveal—your degree, your career path and your major achievements, for example. For others, a résumé is less than useless. Insight into your character definitely falls into the latter category, and is something that an interviewer needs to know about. The questions you’ll find in this section have been specifically designed to uncover the essence of you.
How was your journey here?
The Real Question: Ready to begin the interview? Five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . .
Top-line Tactic: A big smile and a short answer that’s long on gratitude.
You might think this isn’t a character question, but you’d be surprised at the number of nuances and possibilities within it. First impressions count.
Almost every interviewer has a warm-up question. They may vary in tone and wording but they all mean pretty much the same thing:
Hi! Isn’t this odd? I’m almost as nervous as you are. Anyway, let’s begin the interview. Good luck to us all.
“How was your journey?” is a good warm-up question simply because every candidate has a journey and, if it was a good journey, it’s possible to answer in only a few words without causing offense. (It’s also a blessing of a question if you live nearby—let the interviewer know with a “Yup, just twenty minutes on a direct train from where I live.” As mentioned elsewhere, they won’t be sad if you live next door.)
It might seem weird that anyone would need help answering a warm-up question, since both the Q and the A are mostly content-free. Nevertheless there are three perfectly good reasons for going over warm-up questions here:
First, when you’re nervous, it’s easy to misinterpret a warm-up question for an interview that has begun in earnest, causing you to think that there is a hidden meaning to an innocuous question. For example, it’s not unknown for a candidate to misinterpret “How did you find the journey?” as meaning “How come you’re late?,” prompting an undignified bout of unnecessary apologies. Nor is it unknown for a nervous candidate to blurt a smart-alec response when a simple “Fine, thanks” would have done.
Nine times out of ten, the warm-up question is merely everyone clearing their throat, so there’s no need to zing them with what you say, only how you say it. The warm-up question is your first chance to deliver a smile and a happy, confident tone of voice.
When interviewing for jobs at Metro Bank UK, the U.S. banking billionaire Vernon Hill looks for someone to smile in the first thirty seconds. No smile by the half-minute mark, no job with Vernon. As he puts it: “It is harder to teach someone to interview smile than it is to teach them banking skills.”
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