Ask James Reed: how to ace the job interview
Questions employers ask at interview can range from the standard ‘What are your weaknesses?’ to out-of-the-box questions like ‘How many traffic lights are there in London?’ – James Reed can help you decipher what they are really asking.Find out how to pass your next interview with flying colours with this free webinar, in which James shared insight from his 25 years in recruitment and answered your burning questions.This webinar was the second instalment of a two-part series based on two of his books:- The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview- Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear AgainIn case you missed the first one on CV-writing tips, you can watch it back here.Speaker profile: James Reed, CEO and Chairman, ReedJames Reed has worked in recruitment and careers for more than 25 years. Reed receives forty million job applications a year and has delivered over one hundred programmes to help more than 200,000 people who had been long-term unemployed back into work.The Reed Group currently employs more than 3,800 people across the globe helping to improve lives through work. James Reed was voted Top CEO by employee-ratings platform Glassdoor in both 2018 and 2019, and Reed won a coveted Best Places to Work Award from the same company in 2019 and 2020. This means it is the top-ranked recruiter on the list of all organisations voted as excellent workplaces by employees on Glassdoor.
The path to success in phone interviews
Covid-19 has reduced the number of face-to-face interviews. This means organisations need to use phone or video interviews to assess jobseekers. While some are continuing to use phone interviews as a method of filtering applicants, others requiring quick turnarounds are using easy-to-arrange phone interviews as the only stage in the process.Phone interviews present different experience to face-to-face and video interviews. It might seem like a relief not to have an interviewer scrutinising your appearance and body language, but it also means it can be harder for you to make a good impression on them.Below are some tips to ensuring you give the best phone interview you possibly can:Prepare like it is a face-to-face interviewRegardless of whether your interviewer is using this as a single interview or as a first interview to shortlist candidates, you should still prepare as though this is a face-to-face meeting.Find out as much as you can about the organisation who you would be working for. Research your interviewer and what they do at the company. List your key achievements and areas which demonstrate your skills.Make sure that you write down any questions you want to ask. A phone interview is an ideal time to find out more about the role you have applied for, company culture and personal development opportunities.Have your preparation to handWhen preparing for a face-to-face interview, it is important to memorise information, as consistently referring to pieces of paper does not create a flowing conversation and can count against you.In a phone interview, an interviewer cannot see you referring to your notes, so you can do this much more often than in a face-to-face setting.As part of your preparation, make a note of any important figures you can quote back to your interviewer, such as your sales figures, number of customers you have helped and other areas where you have gone above and beyond targets.Have your CV and anything else you used in your application to hand, such as a cover letter, to ensure that you can refer to what you have listed on them; your interviewer will be doing the same.However, do not fall into the trap of simply reading off a piece of paper, as this will be apparent to your interviewer. Instead, drop any information in naturally, ensuring that conversation continues to flow freely.Communicate clearly and conciselyIt is more difficult to have a naturally flowing conversation over the phone than face to face. There are actions you can take to help the conversation progress naturally.The most important element is listening hard to your interviewer. Take on board all elements of their questions, making a note of anything that seems particularly important, in case they refer back to it later.Always leave a pause when an interviewer stops speaking, just to make sure that you are not interrupting them. This pause will also give you some time to frame your answer in your mind.When answering questions, put on your best ‘telephone voice’ and speak with enthusiasm and energy. Enunciate as much as you can, not forgetting to breathe. Having a glass of water to hand will also help you.Just because there is no visual element, it does not mean you have to speak as much as possible. Well-formed, concise answers will make a far better impression than you rambling to make the same point over five minutes that you could have made in 30 seconds.Finally, before the interview begins, make sure you can take the call in a quiet area where you will not be interrupted.By following these steps, and applying face-to-face interview practice, you will make a great impression on your potential employer.If you are looking for a job, permanent or temporary, across one of our 20 specialisms, contact your local Reed office.
How to ace your video interview
Use the following video interviewing tips to help you secure your next role.There are two types of video interviewLive interviews are what you would expect – a video call with the interviewer which is very similar to a face-to-face interview, but slightly different. Some may feel more relaxed knowing that they are speaking face-to-face with a person, even if it’s only through a screen.Pre-recorded interviews provide you with questions you must answer by recording yourself. These interviews are usually recorded with specialist software, such as Shine, and you will have a certain number of attempts to answer each question.Check your techTest your microphone, camera and internet connection before you start, and make sure your device is compatible with the software your interviewer is using. Making a test call will give you piece of mind that everything is set up correctly.In case of any unexpected audio issues, or your connection drops, ensure you have the interviewer’s contact number so that you can continue your interview over the phone. Don’t forget to fully charge your device or have it plugged in to avoid any potential disruption from a low battery.Just as you would in a face-to-face interview, you must also check that your phone is on silent and any notifications are off.FramingTo frame yourself well, position yourself in the centre of the screen, with the camera at eye-level, an arm’s length away. If you give the illusion of eye-contact by looking at the camera, you will seem more engaging to the interviewer. The interviewer will have a better impression of you, and will be more engaged in your answers.It is most important to choose a location where you won’t be disturbed and are least likely to pick up noise from your surroundings. Choose a space which is not too dark or too bright and remove anything from behind you that you wouldn’t want your employer to see, such as dirty clothes.Body language and appearanceBe as professional as possible, both in how you dress and in your body language – remember that this is your potential employer. Even if the interviewer can’t see all of you, dressing well will put you in the right mindset for a job interview and you will make a much better impression.Other than your facial expression and hand gestures, your non-verbal communication is limited, so it will be more difficult for the interviewer to pick up positive body language. Ensure you don’t fidget too much, avoid covering your mouth, and make sure to smile.Our YouTube channel has a fantastic series of interviewing advice videos detailing the dos and don’ts for candidates.If you’re looking for a new career opportunity, contact your local office via email or over the phone.
Getting the best from your interview
Interviews give your potential employer the chance to see you – in the flesh, or remotely over a video call – to learn about your likes and dislikes, capabilities, and get an overall feel for whether you will fit in with the organisation.However, getting the best from the interview doesn't just mean showing your best self to get the job - it also means using the opportunity to assess the environment you will be working in, those you will be working with and for, and making it clear in your mind whether the job and organisation are right for you.First interview, second interview, face-to-face interview, telephone interview, video interview: whatever the type of interview they all have one thing in common – you have the opportunity to shine."To be a great champion, you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are."Muhammad AliWhat's inside the guide?You may be the most knowledgeable professional for the job, but without performing well at an interview you won’t stand a chance of securing your next role.The guide takes you through the following:Getting to grips with the organisation you could be working forDress codeDifferent types of interviewTackling common first interview questionsThe big daySecond interviewsPreparing for a presentation taskOn-the-day tasksBy downloading this guide, you will learn the tips and tricks on the interview process which will help you to make the most of the short time you have to sell yourself.
Top 10 competency-based interview questions to find the perfect candidate
This list of competency-based questions encourage interviewees to use real-life examples in their answers. You get to understand how a candidate made a decision, and see the outcome of their actions.Our top ten list of competency-based interview questions will help you recruit the skills your team needs.1. What are your greatest strengths?This is a classic interview question, and with good reason.It’s a chance for your candidate to prove they have the right skills for the role. Keep the job description in mind to see whether the interviewee understands how their skills relate to the role.Remember you’re looking for transferable skills, not proof that they’ve done the role before.2. What will your skills and ideas bring to this company?This competency-based question is an opportunity to see which of your candidates stand out from the crowd.A good candidate will show an understanding of your company goals within their answer. A great candidate will offer practical examples of how their skills can help you achieve that vision.3. What have you achieved elsewhere?Confidence is key in this competency-based question. It gives your candidate an opportunity to talk about previous successes and experiences that relate to your vacancy.Make sure the achievements you take away from their answers are work-related and relevant to what you’re looking for.4. How have you improved in the last year?Candidates can tie themselves up in knots trying to disguise their weaknesses. This competency-based interview question is a chance to show a willingness to learn from their mistakes.It’s also an opportunity to test the candidate’s level of self-awareness and desire to develop."Competency-based interview questions ask for real-life examples to show a candidate’s skills."5. Tell me about a time you supported a member of your team who was strugglingThis competency-based question will test your candidate’s ability to show compassion towards their colleagues without losing sight of their own objectives.Those further along in their career should be able to reference training or mentoring that not only helped their co-worker but also improved team performance.6. Give an example of a time you’ve had to improvise to achieve your goalIn other words: “Can you think on your feet?” It is increasingly important to be able to react to unexpected situations.The candidate’s answer should highlight their ability to keep their cool and perform in a scenario they haven’t prepared for.7. What was the last big decision you had to make?The answer to this question should be a window into your candidate’s decision-making process and whether their reasoning is appropriate for your role.This is a competency-based question designed to highlight how an interviewee makes decisions. Do they use logical reasoning? Gut intuition? However they manage big decisions, does their approach match what you’re looking for?8. Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult personAll candidates should be able to reference an experience of working with a challenging colleague. Look for them to approach this question with honesty and a clear example of working through the experience.Rather than passing blame, there should be a recognition of the part they have played in the situation, and how they might tackle it differently next time.It’s essential to get a sense of how candidates would fit and thrive within your company culture.9. What was the last thing you taught?You’ve asked the interviewee about their skills, but can they show a capability for teaching others about these skills?This question isn’t restricted to managerial or senior roles, and should be asked whenever you’re looking for a candidate who will add value to your team.10. Why are you a good fit for this company?The key to this competency-based question is whether the candidate can explain how their transferable skills would fit your role. This tests both an awareness of their own abilities and an understanding of what you are looking for in a new employee.The candidate should be able to confidently explain why they want to work for your company, and convince you that they would fit your team culture.If you’re interested in learning more about interviews, please contact your local recruitment specialist.
Second interview questions to ask candidates
The second interview may seem like there is a light at the end of the tunnel after weeks of recruitment to find someone for an opening at your business. Your previous interviews have removed candidates who don't fit the role, which leaves only a handful of people, one of whom you most certainly will be working with in the near future. But working out who this person should be is often decided by running a second interview.The second interview is an important comparison task for you and your team and therefore the questions you use need to give you some real insight into the person you may employ. Yet, just as in your first round of interviews, asking the right questions can be crucial in order to understand if a candidate is suitable for the role.Although there are never a fixed set of questions to ask in the second interview, here are our selection of questions for employers to ask which will hopefully allow you to understand a candidate more fully before making a decision on who to hire.Second interview questions to ask candidates:What are your personal long term career goals?The way your candidate answers this question will give you an insight into where they would position themselves within your company in the long term. If they answer directly referencing your business then they are thinking of remaining within the company for the future and will work hard towards achieving their own career goals whilst working hard for the business. It also allows for you to gauge their personality as their honesty will be very important when making a final decision about who to hire.Do you have any questions about the business or the role since your first interview?This gives your candidate the opportunity to ask questions they may not have thought of during the nerve-wracking first interview. This is good for both of you as it allows you to see how much they have prepared for this interview but also gives them the chance to ask the really good questions they probably thought of on the journey home from the first time they met you.What skills do you think are needed for this role?This does not directly ask them what they could offer but questions their ability to comprehend the role and think critically. It then invites them to state the skills they have and how they compare with what they think is needed.Why would you not be suitable for this role?This asks your candidate to think about problem and resolution - how they would overcome any professional issues they may have in the role. How positive they are in answering this question gives you an idea for their own motivation for achievement.What changes would you make at this company?This invites your candidate to analyse the business constructively from the research they may or may not have undertaken prior to the interview. It gives you the opportunity to see how they would deal with negative questions and how they would positively bring about change. Good answers could include more specific training or offering more responsibility to certain members of the team.How soon would you be able to start this role?This is quite a typical question but an important one as the logistics of taking on new staff can be an administrative nightmare. It can be purely comparative as some candidates will be able to start sooner than others. It also shows their commitment to their current roles and how professional they are in their conduct. If they mention leaving their current position without serving notice they may do this to your business as well.Ultimately, good questions are essential in establishing who will be best for your business. Hopefully, having met with a candidate for the second time, you will have a much better understanding of their skills, capabilities and – most importantly – whether or not they would be a good fit for your business.