Do you, like most of us, find potential interviews daunting? Well fear no more, below you will find a 10 step guide that will assist you. It goes without saying that preparation and readiness is key for any successful interview or application. As such we have compiled a list of how correct applications should be completed and what the interviewers are likely to look for.

Step 1 – It starts with the Application Form. 

In order to be invited to interview, you must first complete and pass the application process. A key point to detail here is to use correct grammar and check for spelling. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at the number of poor applications I have read over the years. There is usually a zero tolerance policy on this, particularly if recruiters are processing a significant number of applicants. So, before sending check, then check again!

Step 2 – Use the Job Description when completing the Personal Specifications. 

When completing the personal specification section in the application, cross reference your experiences and knowledge base with the job description for the role you are applying for. For example, most Organisations will mark the application and indicate what is essential and what is desirable. An easy way to make sure you are ‘hitting’ each point is to separate each essential and desirable point within the job description as headings within the personal specifications section. Then you simply answer each point and evidence how you have achieved them.

Step 3 – Know the field of work you are applying for. 

If you are applying to a new role or an area of work that you have not completed or have no previous experience, make sure you research on what the key roles would entail and what the Organisations key functions include. Again, you would be surprised at the number of applicants that have attended for interview that did not know the Organisations core business. Unless you are an exceptional candidate, you are unlikely to progress further.

Step 4 – Use the Job Description as headings for potential interview questions. 

Once you have successfully passed the application stage, you will be invited for interview. As interviewers, questions are linked to what would be considered as essential and/or desirable within the job description. With this in mind, you can predict the questions that are likely to be asked. Again, break down each point within the Job Description and answer two parts 1) you knowledge base of what this means and 2) evidence of examples in how you have achieved or completed this point/task.

Step 5 – Create a ‘Buzz Word’ sheet. 

Now you know the areas you need to focus on you, look to create a ‘buzz words’ sheet of no more than two sides of A4. The idea behind this is that each ‘buzz word’ should help trigger a response and assist you in scoring highly in interviews. Remember to ‘Chunk and Check’! For example, for anyone interviewing for work with Children & Young People, knowledge of the Children’s Act 1989 & 2004 and Working together to Safeguard Children is essential.

Step 6 – Be honest. 

I am a firm believer that what separates a good candidate/potential employee from a poor one is in their recognition of the fact that they have weaknesses as well as strengths. Remember, no one is an expert in all fields. Of course, interviews are primarily focused on ‘selling yourself’. However, if you feel you have a particular area that needs to be developed further, detail how the role you are applying for will help you achieve this. Remember, skills are transferable, just demonstrate how.

Step 7 – Dress accordingly. 

You should know what to do here!

Step 8 – Be Punctual and Professional. 

Never keep an interviewer waiting for you to show up. Find out the exact location of the interview ahead of time so there are no surprises. Being punctual and professional are key ingredients for working in any setting. As such, you must demonstrate this at the earliest opportunity.

Step 9 – Prepare your own questions to ask interviewers.

Don’t be so engrossed on impressing or answering the questions that you forget to ask the interviewers questions. Remember, confidence and professionalism includes the ability to ask questions and challenge where appropriate. You may wish to ask questions such as:

  • How does this team work?
  • Where would I be based?
  • What is a typical career path for this role?
  • When will I likely hear the outcome of today’s interview?

Step 10 – Enjoy yourself! 

And finally, remember to enjoy yourself. Feel confident in your preparation and readiness skills. Use it as a test to show others what you have to offer, achieved and demonstrate your skills set. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to state to the interviewers how you could help improve the Organisation, if they hired you.