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Interview Tips – A Guide to a Successful Interview

Like a rock star might get nerves before a big gig, no matter how many times you have been to an interview, you may experience some unwanted apprehension.

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Whether a Design Engineer, a Bid Manager for a main contractor, an Estimator or a Quantity Surveyor, those jitters can come to the best of us. These hints and tips below should help arm even the most nervous with some added confidence that you are presenting yourself in the right way. 

Before the interview:

• Be positive.

The company wants to see you because you have something they are interested in. They will want you to do well.

• Plan, prepare and research.

Everyone gets nervous about the unknown so help dispel your fears by learning as much as you can about the company, the culture, and just as importantly - the job. You will almost always be asked what you already know about the company so prepare this in advance. The Internet is an excellent source of

information. Read the job description and person specification (if there is one) thoroughly.

Before the interview, make a note of all the skills you have which match the job requirements; this will help you focus on your skills and what you can offer the company.

• Plan your route. Use Google Maps to find the exact location. Allow enough time for transport and traffic delays, if you are driving plan where you are going to park. If you can do the route beforehand even better. Aim to get to the interview at least 15 minutes beforehand to give you chance to relax and compose yourself. If you are too early find a café nearby to relax in.

• Relax. The interviewer will hopefully put you at ease with social chat and break down a few barriers. Remember - they want to get the best out of you, a true indication of who you are and what you can offer.

 

At the interview:

• You are on show from the moment you step through the door into reception, so smile and walk confidently to the reception desk. Introduce yourself and state you have an appointment with 'name'.

• Body language. Maintain a good level of eye contact and show interest in what the interviewer is saying. Remember to smile!

• Take time to construct your answers. This is where your research and preparation benefit you the most. If you have already anticipated the question, you should be more confident giving an appropriate answer. If you don't understand the question, ask the interviewer to clarify. This is far better than going off at a tangent and giving a completely inappropriate answer.

• Positive statements. Don’t be negative about previous employers, it is unprofessional and reflects badly on you. Instead, be positive about your future and how you can benefit the company. Show your motivation, and willingness to learn and be a part of the team. During the interview, you will be asked to demonstrate your suitability for the job. Don't waffle, give appropriate, relevant answers, with as many examples as possible.

 

Common Interview Questions

Tell me about yourself

• They want you to open up to them. Tell them about your qualifications, career history and range of skills, and any relevant hobbies or voluntary work. Don’t make this answer too long or include irrelevant detail such as where you went to junior school!

What are your strengths?

• Try to look at personal attributes such as 'I'm a team player', or 'I have great organisational skills', then demonstrate using examples how they could be of benefit to an employer.

What are your weaknesses?

• The interviewer wants to see how self-aware you are. Don't use personal weaknesses such as 'I’m not very good in the mornings'. A weakness can also be considered a strength. Try and think of a positive side to your answer, for example I’m a perfectionist so I struggle to delegate work’. Tailor this answer to the specific job; for example, don’t say you can’t delegate if this will be a large part of the role.

Why do you think you're suitable for this role?

• Use your research to tell them what skills you have that match up to the role. Where do you see yourself in ‘X’ year’s time?

• The interviewer wants to know your motivation and career aspirations. Try not to give a specific job title, but more what you will be gaining from a role and environment. Such as 'I see myself in a role that is challenging'. Also, the interviewer will be looking for some commitment, so try not to tell them you expect to be doing something completely unrelated to this job.

Do you have any questions?

Always prepare some relevant questions, but don’t ask things you have already been told. Some could include:

• What will be my responsibilities?

• Where will I fit into the overall organisational structure?

• What is the make-up of the team

• Who will I report to?

• Where does he/she fit in the structure?

• Who will report to me? If applicable - How experienced are they?

• What is your management style

• What are your expectations of me in the first 6 months?

• Who are your customers?

• Where is the company going? Upwards? Expansion plans?

• Career-wise/Long-term, where can I potentially go from here?

• The competitive environment in which the organisation operates

• What obstacles the team/organisation anticipates in meeting its goals

• How the organisation’s goals have changed over the past three to five years