Job Search & Video Interviewing tips: Expert Discussion With Saundra Wade

saundra wade - video interviewing job search

We caught-up with Saundra Wade, APAC Marketing & Communications Director at Sonru, to get some advice for job seekers. Sonru, provides video interviewing software and is present in various parts of the world, including Singapore, UK, Europe, Australia, UAE and the US.


For people who are looking for a new job, what are some marketable qualities or abilities that will help them stand out from the other candidates, and what are some ways for job hunters to emphasize these qualities?

It really depends on the role.

In general, people want to see drive, initiative, problem-solving abilities.

Being prepared is key; make sure you’ve done your research on the company, their industry, members of the team, your potential new boss, latest news, etc. Nothing worse than a candidate who hasn’t done a simple Google search on the company, its competitors and the industry.

Just go the extra mile; it shows you really want the role.

Also personal brand is important; make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and relevant, engage in groups and discussions, post updates regularly, write your own posts on LinkedIn or maintain a blog. Also get recommendations from former colleagues, and endorsements for different skills – all that helps.


For recruiters, what are some of the most attractive qualities in a prospective employee, and what are some signs they look for in the applicants?

Again it depends on the role, but ultimately recruiters want to know if you can do the job, if you will fit in with the company culture and team.

Presentation is key, especially with video/physical interviews.

Also confidence in your abilities, and a hunger or desire as well as attitude, plus skill set that matches the job you applied for.


Obviously social media is part of our world, including the business world. For people who are job hunting, do you have any advice on ways they can use their social media channels to illustrate their abilities?

Absolutely. LinkedIn, of course, is key for demonstrating skills and experience, as well as making connections and networking, and getting recommendations.

Twitter is a great way to show knowledge and experience, interest in different subjects, as well as engagement with others and how you communicate.

Creating video content and posting to YouTube and Vimeo works well; you can embed this on your LinkedIn profile as well as Slideshare for presentations.

Reputation is important, so what you don’t post on social channels is as important as what you do.

Also, on the other side of that coin, social media is a great way to learn more about a company, their culture and their latest news.


Can you give us a couple of quick video interviewing tips for job hunters?

For a video interview, the key part is to treat it no differently than a face-to-face interview.

Make sure you’re dressed to impress, just like you would be if you were going in to meet someone face to face.

Avoid distractions, and make sure you won’t be interrupted by anything while you’re recording your interview. Body language is important, so sit up straight and be confident. And don’t forget to smile 🙂

The Best Techniques To Find Jobs In Singapore Quickly

best ways to find jobs in singapore

Finding full-time or part-time jobs in Singapore, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, is never easy. It typically takes a considerable  amount of time and effort to get the job you want.

To make the process quicker and less painful, I’ve put together a selection of good job search technique related content, that we’ve published over the years. Each one is relevant and contains practical tips. We see these helping our clients everyday and hopefully they will be useful for you as well.


Navigating Job Boards In Singapore



Dealing With Recruitment/Employment Agencies In Singapore



Engaging In Job Search Networking



Other Useful Job Search Information


Humorous stories and some lessons for your job interview

funny job interview stories

You and him went through some rough experiences together.  He was there for you when Fluffy died.  You also shared some great times, like that week you two spent in Mexico.  But he dumped you and is dating your best friend.  How could he?  How could she?

You can be forgiven for being distracted and upset.  Anyone can empathize with you, so do not take that blank stare you are getting as insensitivity.  You see, the person across the table just met you and was expecting to interview you for a job and not an episode of Dr. Phil.

Such tales happen often enough that most seasoned Human Resources personnel have a few stories to tell of people who end up saying or doing some inappropriate things that cost them a job.  I’m sure that HR folks in the lion city, have witnessed their share of job interview blunders as well. There is the person interviewing for the receptionist position who would rather not change toner due the risk of getting a stain or who has to move around a lot because of a bad back.  What DID you think was involved in the job again?

Unless you have sat through an interview like this you have no idea how much mental energy it takes to prevent yourself from rolling your eyes, yawning, or looking at your watch too often.  Luckily you have a job so you will not be penalized for such indifferent behavior, but you wonder what the other person is thinking.

People who are not used to being brought to account for their actions are more likely to say inappropriate things in a job interview.  They fail to see that an interview is one of the most structured interpersonal actions one will ever engage in and that it is important to be goal oriented in your answers, questions and overall demeanor.  There is nothing wrong with being honest, they feel.

Actually, there is.  There are only two goals of the interview.  Your goal is to get a job offer.  Their goal is to determine if you are worth hiring.  Anything you say that does not advance your goal is a wasted opportunity.  The best interview candidates realize and practice something called selective honesty.

Selective honesty is used by people who have a detailed, regimented approach to a job interview.  These people take a very close look at the job description and get to know as much about the position as they can.  Their best assets that match the most crucial aspects of the job become their speaking goals, their “must say” talking points.  Realizing that every question is “Why should I hire you”, they only say information that increases the probability of them getting hired.

This level of preparation includes appropriate dress.  A hiring manager for a bank located in a conservative religious community told a story about a young woman who came in for an interview wearing revealing and very inappropriate clothing.  Furthermore, during the interview her phone rang and before she answered said it might be Billboard Magazine calling about an internship that she was dying to get.  Unfortunately it was only a friend, so the candidate proceeded to finish her answer about why she wanted to work there by saying she needed a few weeks worth of work in order to save up gas money for the cross country ride to Billboard Magazine.

Details matter.  One person interviewing on a rainy day came impeccably dressed, save for the rubber boots that ruined the effect.  Other frequent missteps involve excessive use of makeup and fragrances.  Jewelry and piercings other than the most conventional ones should be removed or minimized.  One Employment Counselor remembered a client who showed up to an interview for a restaurant server’s position sporting a new tongue ring that she was quite proud of.  When she was told it would be better off removed, she took out a set of pliers and asked him for help.

That is what many people in the industry joke is one of the “other duties as assigned” that companies put in their job descriptions.  In case you are wondering, she got the job.

I hope you found the pointers useful (and entertaining) and will apply them towards your next job interview.

The Seven Warning Signs Of A Toxic Job Interview

toxic job interview singapore

Congratulations! You’ve successfully overcome the first hurdle of the recruitment process in your quest for your dream job.  You have been invited for a job interview and followed all of the relevant advice on how to prepare for your big day.  You’ve researched the company, rehearsed your answers to those key questions and your appearance is professional and pristine.  Barring any unforeseen calamities, you are confident the job offer is within your grasp.

Of course, not all companies are equal and some, in fact, can prove to be toxic. We’ve all been regaled by stories from friends and family of the worst job they ever had.

Don’t be blinded by your eagerness to change your current position, some employers should be given a wide berth. Rather than propel you along your career trajectory, they can bring it to a grinding halt. But how do you identify those companies during the recruitment process?

Here are our seven warning signs to help you to identify a potentially toxic organization, during the process of a job interview:- 

Poor Communication : Poor communication is the first indication of a toxic employer, ranging from unprofessional behaviour to a complete lack of respect offered towards you as a candidate. Last minute cancellations and rescheduled interviews add to the general air of indifference. On arrival at the company’s offices you are met by a surly receptionist who barely glances up from the desk, leaving you sitting awkwardly in the visitors’ waiting area.

Lack of A Job Description : The continued absence of a job description is a cause for concern. If you are continually fobbed off with promises of details being provided ‘once you have started work with us’, be wary.  A disorganized employer that lacks vision does not augur well for your future career.

A Critical Hiring Manager : One of the golden rules for all candidates attending a job interview is never to reflect negatively on previous or current employers and colleagues. If the person interviewing you interrupts the discussion to present a monologue on everything that he perceives to be wrong with the company, his boss and his colleagues, consider that to be a flashing red warning. To confirm this view, ask your interviewer what they enjoy most about working for their employer.  A series of sarcastic quips, a hasty change of subject or an uncomfortable silence will provide you with the answer you need.

The Interviewer Ignores Your Questions : If you’ve thoroughly researched the opportunity and the company, you’ll have a list of questions prepared that are relevant to the job, the hiring process and the previous postholders. During your job interview, if your questions are met with a frown or a response such as ‘that’s not open for discussion at this stage in the interview process’, this is a cause for concern.  Employers who are reluctant to disclose fundamental details generally have something to hide and it normally includes an unhappy workforce.

No-one Smiles : You may have encountered a miserable Human Resources assistant when you contacted the company to confirm your interview, but everyone is entitled to a bad day. When the hostile theme continues with the receptionist on arrival and every company employee you encounter on the way to the interview room reinforces your initial impression, that’s a whole new level of concern. Can you seriously imagine spending every hour of your working day in such a negative environment?

Beware of the Instant Job Offer : If you’re offered the job within half an hour of walking into the job interview following a distinct lack of probing questions or reference requests, we suggest you resist celebrating prematurely. This is not normal practice for permanent positions or discerning employers in search of the best talent available. Companies that hire quickly normally fire quickly too. Take a mental step back and review the situation before responding. Our advice?  If you are in a financially pressured situation where you simply need to pay the bills then proceed with ultimate caution and continue your job search in the meantime.

You Can’t Wait to Leave : The whole process has been a challenge from the outset, you haven’t warmed up to anyone you’ve encountered so far and your instincts are telling you to run.  Remain professional, steer the interview towards its completion, thank the hiring manager politely and leave, preferably without a backward glance.

I wish you all the best, if you have an upcoming job interview and hope you do very well!

The Best Foods to Eat to Maximize Your Job Interview Performance

job-interview-performance

Can what you eat actually impact job performance? What about your performance at a job interview?

Twenty years ago, people might have thought that what you eat could have little impact on your job performance or an interview, but modern medical discoveries have proven otherwise. What you eat leading up to and on the day of a job interview can, in fact, have a significant impact on how well you perform. In this article, we will explore what you should eat so that your brain and body are ready to go and ready to handle any interview question.

Let’s begin with the basics. If you are eating food that makes you feel horrible or even sick, then you are not likely to perform your best at any task, be it a job interview or otherwise. This is why you should greatly reduce or even eliminate junk food, processed food and sugar. Here is why. Junk food and processed foods are high in chemicals, additives, food colorings, sugar, sodium and trans fats. These “ingredients” are not what you need to be at your best physically and mentally.

This is why you want to opt for whole food options instead of processed food options leading up to your job interview.

The kinds of foods you need to be eating are foods that will make you feel good and give your body the nutrition that it needs to function properly. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is a great foundation. In addition to fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and smart, well-chosen proteins should make up the bulk of your diet. In fact, the right kind of proteins can actually give your brain the kind of boost that it needs for optimal performance during your interview.

Brain boosting foods are going to be those that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are fats that actually work to reduce inflammation in your body. As a result, they are able to fight disease and even ease aches and pains. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to be heart and brain healthy. Omega-3 rich foods help to keep your brain functioning properly and at a high level. In addition to making you feel/be smarter, they can also boost your mood as well.

Needless to say, this is exactly what you want for your next job interview. Let’s look at some of the top brain boosting foods that you will want to consider.

Maybe you are not a big fan of sardines, as these little fish often don’t make it onto the table. From a health and diet perspective, this is a real shame. Sardines are low in calories. Yet, at the same time, they are high in protein. More importantly, they are also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which can only help you perform better during an interview. Other fish are also great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Wild Alaskan salmon is a great pick. Your salmon should be wild Alaskan salmon, as farm raised salmon has been shown to have a variety of contamination issues.

One study that was published in the British Journal of Nutrition reviewed the type of impact that fish oil had on the mental performance of 18-35 year olds. They found that those who took this supplement had increased levels of blood flow to their brains when they performed mental tasks and they also had faster reaction times.

The journal Neurology recently reported similar findings. Those with low blood levels of omega 3 fatty acids had lower scores on tests of mental acuity. They also had lower cerebral brain volume.

heathy-eating-tips-food

Not all omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish. The nut world has provided us with a rich source in the form of walnuts. Walnuts are simply outstanding, as they are rich in numerous disease fighting compounds and are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Many experts feel that walnuts are one of the healthier foods that you can eat.

Other foods that you should consider for boosting your job interview performance include garlic (but not just before your job interview). Garlic has a range of health benefits including chemicals that fight inflammation as well as bacterial, viral and even fungal infections. If you want to stay healthy year round, then consider eating both raw and cooked garlic!

The bottom line is that you want to be feeling your best when you meet with someone in charge of hiring, during your job interview. Everyone knows that junk food is bad for you, yet many people make the mistake of eating it right before important moments like job interviews. If you can select foods that give you sustained energy and keep your brain running smoothly, you will always perform better.

5 Ways Public Speaking Can Help When Looking for Jobs

public speaking skills

Looking for jobs is a multi-faceted process. No matter what kind of job you are looking for and no matter what the current climate might be, finding a job is not a one-dimensional affair.

This means that you need to be approaching the task from a variety of perspectives. One of the single most important steps that you can take is to make strides in improving your product presentation. “Product presentation?” you ask. You are the product when you are looking for jobs. This means that the better you can “sell” that product, the quicker you will find a job that you love. In this article, we will examine 5 different ways that practicing public speaking can benefit you when it comes time to look for a job.

Factor One – Public Speaking and Building Confidence

Many people are intimidated or downright scared to speak in front of large groups. In fact, this is one of the most commonly held of all phobias. Yet, the good news is that this issue can be overcome with practice. If you are intimidated by speaking in public, the best way to conquer this fear is to simply begin speaking to larger and larger groups.

Speaking in front of groups will build your confidence, and that will speak for itself when you go on future interviews. Most of the time, employers like having confident employees. After all, a confident employee is one that believes that he or she can handle tough situations and “get things done.” Isn’t that the kind of person you want around? Having this kind of confidence on a job interview can pay off!

Factor Two – Public Speaking Helps You Become More Comfortable with Others

With confidence usually comes a level of comfort. Public speaking will not just help you build your confidence, but will also help you become more comfortable around others. Comfortable people are generally viewed as being warmer and more personable, and these are the kind of qualities that employers routinely look for when hiring. Personable people are easier to work with, as they are more likely to get along with others and be a valuable contributor to a team.

Factor Three – Become Comfortable Hearing Yourself Speak and Present Information

To be comfortable speaking around others, it is also important that you are not only comfortable around others, but also in your “own skin” as well. The simple fact is that many people are not happy hearing themselves speak. When you are on an interview, you want to be satisfied with your performance and not worried about what you sound like.

The more practice you have with public speaking, the more likely you are to develop your own style. This, in turn, will help you build your confidence levels even further. It’s a positive feedback loop in that the more you practice, the better you will get a public speaking and the more confidence you will have. Now, you’re really getting ready to tackle job interviews.

Factor Four – Public Speaking is an Opportunity to Practice in Front of Others

Part of developing communication skills and an effective communication style is to practice in front of other people. It is one thing to practice any activity alone and quite another to practice in front of others. The pressure of having other people watch you perform adds a level of psychological pressure that must be overcome and adapted to in order to progress. You may find it easy to transition from practicing public speaking alone to speaking to groups, but you won’t know until you get out there and start talking!

Factor Five – Get Feedback and Improve

The final major way that public speaking will help you during job interviews is that when you speak to groups you can get feedback. You can acquire this feedback in a variety of ways. This includes having trusted friends or associates watch your public speaking and give you tips as well as having the opportunity to ask strangers what they thought of your speech. Some circumstances might even allow for you have people fill out short surveys or send you their feedback via email. Don’t be shy about asking for this feedback, as it is extremely valuable and will help you improve your speaking skills.

Practicing public speaking can do more than improve your speaking skills. It can, in fact, transform how you communicate with others and elevate your personal communication skills to a new level. No matter what kind of jobs you are interviewing for, enhanced communication skills will do more than just impress; they’ll help you land a job.

An Effective Job Interview Follow Up Email/Letter

thank-you-followup-email-letter-after-interview

If you are one of those people who do precisely nothing after a job interview other than wait for the recruiter’s decision, then you certainly aren’t alone.  In fact, much to the dismay and disgust of employers, the vast majority of interviewees do absolutely no job interview follow up.  Not only is this perceived as being downright ill-mannered though, but job seekers deprive themselves of some incredibly valuable opportunities by not doing so.

Even though you thanked the interviewer for their time and consideration before you left the interview, it’s still considered to be good form to write a thank you email/letter after the event.  This is something that you need to do as soon as you possibly can after the job interview, however, because your timing here could be absolutely crucial in terms of putting your name at the forefront of the recruiter’s mind just when he or she is making that all-important hiring decision.  When you create your job interview follow up letter though, you shouldn’t just be thinking about thanking the interviewer, but also about:

  • Re-emphasizing how and why you are the perfect fit for the role
  • Filling any gaps that you might have left during the interview itself and/or
  • Correcting any blunders that you might have made

Even with the best will in the world, when recruiters sit down to interview what might be dozens of candidates, they all start to become a bit of a blur.  Of course, interviewers do take notes during a job interview so that they can assess each of the candidates fairly, but unless someone comes across really strongly or something is said that makes them stick in the interviewer’s mind, it can be hard to tell them apart after the event.

When you write your follow up email after the job interview, therefore, your first aim should be to remind the recruiter of who you are by referring to something memorable that came up during the course of your discussion.  It could be something that the interviewer brought up or that you yourself raised, but either way, when the interviewer reads your letter he is likely to remember the conversation and the person he was talking to at the time.  You might, for example, begin your letter with something like, “I am writing to thank you for the opportunity to meet with you earlier today, as well as to say, once again, how impressed I was to hear about your organization’s nomination for the coveted Company of the Year award.”

The bulk of your follow-up letter after the job interview, should then be devoted to reinforcing the match between what you have to offer and the role that you have just interviewed for.  In fact, you could start your second paragraph by telling the interviewer explicitly that your meeting reinforced your desire to work for the company, as well as the added value that you believe you could bring to the role.  How you follow on from this though, will depend on whether you merely wish to reiterate how your skills and experience match up to certain elements of the job, whether you need to address any concerns or weaknesses that the interviewer might have raised, whether you need to bring in something that you forgot to mention during the interview such as some relevant experience or a particular skill or qualification that you left out, or whether you want to correct a misunderstanding of some kind.  Whichever is the case, use this opportunity to really sell yourself all over again by making direct links between what you can do and the problems or issues that the recruiter is facing.

All that remains then is to close your letter with a final vote of thanks and a call to action.  You might invite the interviewer to contact you should he or she require any further information, for instance, and then remind them of your contact number.

Interviewees clearly have no way of knowing just how much of a close call it sometimes is between them and the next candidate, but when two candidates are very closely matched during a job interview, a perfectly-timed follow up email/letter can really make a difference in terms of making one stand out over the other.

Interview Questions to Ask Employers (and Those to Avoid)

questions to ask at an interview

No matter whether your job interview is one-to-one, with a panel, or a group, there should always come a point towards the end, when you are invited to ask your own questions of the interviewer.

Always, always, always take this opportunity, because having a list of interview questions to ask employers:

  1. Shows that you are genuinely interested in the position and in the organization.
  2. Shows that you care about your career.
  3. Gives you a further opportunity to demonstrate your depth of knowledge in your field.
  4. Lets you demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched the position and the company in advance of the interview.
  5. Gives you a chance to develop a sense of rapport with the interviewer in what is typically a more relaxed stage of the interview.

Many employers/recruiters actually frown upon candidates who don’t ask their own questions at the end of an interview, so it would be a mistake to see this as something which is optional.  Do, however, think carefully beforehand about the interview questions to ask employers, because if what comes out of your mouth are enquiries such as “What exactly does your company do?”, “How soon will I get promoted?” or “Are you going to carry out a background check?” then you can bet your bottom dollar that your application isn’t going any further.  Ask the interviewer something that has already been discussed or anything personal, or mention money, transfers or the availability of other jobs in the organization and your fate will also be sealed before you leave the room.

So, if asking your own questions during an interview  is so important but there are all these no-go areas, just what are you supposed to ask?  Here are a few ideas for interview questions to ask employers, to get you started:

  • What would a typical day/week/month in this role look like?  Not only will this help you to clarify the tasks and responsibilities of the role that you are applying for and the expectations of the company, but it will also give you a good idea as to how much variety the position offers.
  • What type of training and induction do you provide?  This will help you to gauge whether you will be expected to hit the ground running or whether the employer has a plan or process in place for introducing you into the role more gradually.  It will also give you an idea of how committed the organization is to the development of its staff.
  • What would success look like in this role?  This is a really important question in terms of understanding the company’s expectations of the roleholder and asking it will give you the opportunity to assess whether you think your skills and experience would be a good match.
  • Who would I be working with?  Clearly this will give you a feel for whether you would be working alone or as part of a small, medium or large team.  The response to this question should tell you whether there will be other people that you can learn from or whether you are going to have to be more self-sufficient.
  • How would my performance be assessed?  If the answer you get to this question suggests that there is no proper performance appraisal process in place, you might just want to walk away, or at the very least consider your position carefully.  People who work for businesses that don’t have formal processes in place for evaluating their staff often suffer from a lack of professional development, not to mention being exposed to the arbitrary whims of their managers.
  • What type of challenges do you expect the department to face during the coming year?  This is one of the interview questions to ask employers, which will not only give you some useful clues in terms of what you could be up against should you take the position on, but it will also tell whether the organization is a forward-thinking one or not.

As you can see, there is absolutely no reason to sit there in silence when an interviewer invites you to pose questions of your own and there are many extremely revealing questions that you can ask.  Do prepare the interview questions to ask employers in advance though, and don’t rely on your memory.  It’s far too easy for all those great questions to completely escape you when nerves have got the better of you, so write them down and take them with you to the interview.

Keeping Job Interview Nerves at Bay

interview-questions-and-answers-nerves

Great!  All that hard work you put into your resume has paid off and you’ve got the job interview.

If you’re anything like most people though, the initial euphoria will probably turn to job interview nerves, with stomach-churning anxiety as the fateful day draws ever closer.

Job interviews are enough to turn even the strongest and most confident of people to jelly, and of course the more you have riding on the job, the more nervous you are likely to be.  What can you do though to keep those butterflies under control and those knees from knocking so that you can actually concentrate on blowing the interviewer away with all your great skills and experience?  Here are a few tips to help you overcome job interview nerves and stage fright, both before and during the event.

Before the Job Interview

  1. If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to induce pre job interview nerves it’s not being prepared.  Spend as much time as you can in the run-up to the interview on researching the company, studying the job ad and job description and on making sure that you understand precisely what the recruiter’s pain points are and how your skills and experience can help to address them.  Pay particular attention to the skills and qualities that the company is looking for and prepare your “stories” to demonstrate how you have used these to the benefit of your current or past employers.
  2. Practicing your interview technique in advance will enable you to talk with much greater confidence about your work experience and what you have to offer, so be sure to enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member to role play your job interview with you.  Alternatively, practice on your own so that you get used to telling your stories.
  3. Do a dummy run to the interview location so that you know exactly where you are going, how long the journey will take and where you can park when you get there.  Setting off blind on the day of the interview will only add to your anxiety.
  4. Make sure that you get a good night’s sleep the night before your meeting is due to take place.  Take a nice relaxing bath to calm your nerves before retiring and then breathe in positive thoughts and breathe out negative ones as you drift off to sleep.  Don’t be tempted to use alcohol to calm you down or make you sleep as it’s likely to leave you feeling less than sharp in the morning.
  5. Lay out your clothes and anything else you need for your job interview the night before so that you don’t have to fret about finding things or making yourself late.
  6. Eat breakfast to ensure that mind and body are firing on all cylinders. A nice kaya toast perhaps? 😉
  7. Aim to arrive at the interview location early so that you can take a walk to get rid of some of that nervous energy.
  8. Keep reminding yourself that your interview is a two-way process and that it’s as much about you deciding whether you want to work for the company as it is about whether the company wants you on board.
  9. Keep things in perspective.  It’s a job interview you’re attending, not a funeral.  Even if you don’t get the job, things could be far worse.
  10. Smile to yourself on the way to the job interview.  You probably won’t feel much like smiling, but even a forced smile will make you feel more positive and confident.
  11. Remind yourself that the interviewer isn’t an ogre and that he or she wants you to succeed, not fail.
  12. Act as if, or in other words, fake it ‘til you make it.  This is probably one of the most effective ways to get through any kind of situation that causes you anxiety or discomfort, and basically it’s about play acting.  When people feel confident their body language is very different than when they’re nervous.  They walk with an air of authority, look people directly in the eyes and talk with assurance.  They don’t slink into a room as if they hope not to be noticed or chew at their fingernails or fidget.  Pretend that you are that confident person or think back to a time when you genuinely felt filled with self-assurance and then behave as you did then.  It doesn’t matter if in reality you’re quaking in your boots because nobody else knows what’s going on inside of you.  Just fake it to begin with and before you know it you really will feel like that confident person you want to be.

Hope these tips help keep those job interview nerves in control!

4 Types of Interview Questions and How to Respond

common-interview-questions

Knowing what types of interview questions to expect is absolutely crucial if you are going to be able to prepare thoroughly and come across confidently during your meetings with recruiters.

Although it might seem as though there is no rhyme or reason to the questions that interviewers ask, in fact they generally fall into one of four main categories, namely general, situational, behavioural and downright oddball.  Here is an explanation of each type of question, along with tips on how to deal with them.

General Job Interview Questions

General questions are basically designed to find out more about candidates.  Essentially they are just fact-based questions which are typically asked at various stages throughout the course of an interview.  However, it is worth mentioning that a great many recruiters like to start interviews off with the old favorite “Tell me about yourself.”

Now, although “Tell me about yourself” ought to be simple enough to deal with, many candidates fall into the trap of rambling on about everything from their hobbies to where they went on vacation and what their dogs’ names are.  In some cases, they even quite inadvertently slip into providing recruiters with information which could very easily be used to discriminate against them, such as their ages and how many children they have.  When interviewers invite you to talk about yourself though, they don’t want to know your entire life story, and in fact the only thing they do want to hear is about you in a professional sense.  Give them a potted history of your career to date, and even bring in your aspirations for the future, but leave out the personal stuff as far as possible.

The other types of general job interview questions that you might face could relate to any of the following areas:

  • Things that you have included in your resume.
  • Your current job and why you want to leave it, your relationships with your current boss and colleagues, the things that you like most/least about it and so on.
  • Your career aspirations for the next 3-5 years.
  • What you know about the company you are interviewing with and why you want to work there.
  • What interests you about the position you are applying for.
  • What you have to offer the company.
  • Your greatest strengths and weaknesses.
The most important things to keep in mind for these types of interview questions are:
  1. Keep your answers focussed on and revolving around the key requirements to perform well in the job.
  2. Show the interviewer how you are a good fit for the company culture and how there is a match between your career goals and what the company has to offer.

Situational Job Interview Questions

Situational interview questions are designed to elicit how you would deal with certain work-related situations, and clearly the questions themselves are going to be centered around the type of situations that you would actually have to deal with in the role that you are applying for, or which would require the same skills and competencies.

Essentially, situational interview questions are hypothetical questions which normally begin with “What would you do if…”.  If you can think of a time when you found yourself in a similar situation, however, then use your experience to form the basis of your response and to tell a story which demonstrates the key skills, capabilities and personal qualities that you brought into play.  If you can’t think of a relevant experience, then simply tell the interviewer how you think you would react or behave, but again, be sure to bring out the skills and competencies that you genuinely possess and are needed for the specific job.

Clearly, to be able to answer these types of interview questions effectively, not to mention being able to anticipate them, you need to do your research and form a clear understanding of which skills and qualities would be most important in the role that you are applying for.  If the job advertisement describes the role as being dynamic and fast-paced for instance, you might intuit from this that requirements and deadlines are likely to change.  One of the situational questions that you might be asked, therefore, could revolve around what you would do if you were part-way through a project and the deadline was suddenly brought forward.

Behavioural Job Interview Questions

Behavioural interview questions are similar to situational questions but rather than being hypothetical, they ask you to draw on your direct experience.  Generally, they begin with “Describe a time when…” and the reason that interviewers find them so useful is because in most cases the ways that people have behaved in the past tend to be a fairly good indicator of how they will behave in the future.

As with situational questions, you need to prepare in advance for behavioral interview questions so that you attend the interview armed with relevant stories which demonstrate not only what you did, but how you did it, what skills and qualities you needed to use to handle the situation, what results you achieved and how these benefited your employer.  When recruiters put together both situational and behavioural questions, they tend to focus on the skills, knowledge, abilities and personal traits that would be especially important in carrying out the role, so think carefully about situations that you have dealt with in the past and which will help you to demonstrate that you possess the most relevant ones.

An effective format to  prepare and answer such questions, is the Challenge, Action, Results approach:

  • Challenge/Context: What was the situation or circumstances you faced?
  • Action: What did you do to deal with the situation?
  • Result: What were the results that followed? (Quantify wherever possible)

Oddball Questions

The final type of question that you might find yourself faced with in a job interview is the downright oddball question, and while it might seem totally nonsensical for an interviewer to suddenly ask something like “How many golf balls does it take to fill a Boeing 747?”, “Why is a manhole cover round?” or “If you were a superhero, which one would you be?”, these types of questions are in fact asked for a reason.

Although oddball questions aren’t relevant to all types of interviews, when employers are recruiting for positions which require strong problem-solving abilities or high levels of creativity, random questions such as the ones above can give them enormous clues as to how you would try to fathom out the unfathomable or how inventive your mind is.  In addition, they can be a great way for interviewers to see how well candidates cope under the stress of a difficult problem.

The main things to remember about oddball interview questions are that:

  1. There is no way you can properly prepare for them, because of course you have no idea which ones are likely to come up.  The best that you can do is to take a look online at some of the ones that companies such as Microsoft and Google are so famous for asking, simply to practice a particular way of thinking.
  2. With the notable exception of the one about the manhole cover, there is hardly ever a “right answer” to these types of questions, or at least not one that the interviewer is likely to know, so don’t fret about whether your response is correct or incorrect.  The main purpose of the exercise, as I have said, is so that the interviewer can see the process that you use to work out an answer, so don’t be afraid to think out loud and don’t let yourself get phased by the oddball nature of the question.

As you can see, far from being random, the different types of interview questions that you are likely to face are all asked for perfectly logical reasons.  Do your research into the position that you are applying for and the company that you are applying to and not only will you be fully prepared for the meeting, but you should also be able to pre-empt some of the questions.

Oh, and for those who are still wondering, manholes and manhole covers are round because no matter how a cover is dropped, it can’t possibly fall down the hole and injure anyone underneath.

Different Types of Job Interviews and How to Handle Them

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So, you’ve had the call from the recruiter to invite you for a job interview, but did you remember to ask what kind of interview to expect?  What’s that?  You didn’t realize there were different types of job interviews?  Then read on…

Although most people tend to think of job interviews as face-to-face meetings which take place between a single interviewer and a single candidate, in fact these one-to-one interviews are just one of three main types of job interviews that you might have to face.  As the structure and format of each type is quite different though, and as each interview style comes with its own different set of considerations, the first thing to remember is to ask the recruiter up front what type to expect so that you can prepare yourself accordingly.

Types of job interviews: One-to-One Format

The format of a one-to-one interview, as you are probably aware, is pretty straightforward.  Basically, there is you and usually a member of the HR department or the hiring manager in the room and nobody else.  The interviewer will have prepared a set of questions which he or she delivers to all of the candidates, so that they can all be assessed against the same set of criteria.  During the course of the interview, the interviewer will take notes so that he or she can score you in terms of your suitability for the role.  Usually in this type of interview there are no nasty surprises and the interviewer will generally try to put you at your ease and behave as normal.

Types of job interviews: Panel Format

The second type of job interview that you might come across, especially if you have applied for a higher level job, is the more formal panel or board interview.  In this case, rather than just being faced with a single interviewer, you will normally meet with a panel of three or more all at the same time.  Typically the panel members will include the hiring manager and perhaps a designate from HR, a manager from another function who you may have to interact with if you ultimately take up the role and/or one or two existing members of the team that you hope to join.

Just as with a one-to-one interview, a panel interview normally involves each interviewee being asked the same set of questions, but in this case each interviewer is likely to have compiled their own questions to assess your performance in relation to the things that are most relevant to them.  While the hiring manager might focus on how well your skills and experience match with the duties and responsibilities of the role, for example, a prospective colleague might be more interested in your team-working abilities.

The questions that you are likely to be asked in a panel interview will probably be very similar to those in a one-to-one interview, but one of the major differences between the two types of job interviews is that the former is typically more stressful simply because the pace is faster.  Those who take part in panel interviews sometimes complain that they feel as though they are being bombarded with questions and that they have little time to consider their responses.  Thorough preparation, therefore, is all the more important if you know you are going to be faced with more than one interviewer, and it’s probably also worthwhile to make a brief note beforehand of the key points that you want to “sell,” as these might not be so easy to remember in the heat of the moment.

Here are a few more tips to remember about panel interviews:

  • Don’t let yourself be rushed.  If you need to take a second to compose your response to a question, then do so.
  • Try to catch each of the interviewers’ names and don’t be afraid to use them when replying to them directly or referring to them.
  • Make direct eye contact with each interviewer as he or she asks you a question, but then look at the other interviewers too as you reply so that they all feel included.
  • Do be aware that those who conduct panel interviews sometimes take on specific roles, as in the “good cop, bad cop” scenario.  If you find yourself faced with one panel member whose attitude and manner leaves something to be desired, don’t let it ruffle you, don’t under any circumstances rise to the bait and don’t take anything they say personally.  The role that he or she adopts is aimed purely at testing your response, so just treat it like a game and let it go over your head.

Types of job interviews: Group Format

The final of the 3 types of job interview that I am going to talk about here is the group interview, and this particular format is becoming more and more common in industries such as retailing where businesses often need to take on large numbers of staff all at the same time.  The two main reasons that they are used are:

  1. Because they are more cost-effective for recruiters, and
  2. Because they allow recruiters to assess how candidates interact with one another and so how they are likely to perform as part of a team

Group interviews involve a number of candidates (typically anywhere between around 10 and 25), as well as a number of interviewers.  Sometimes they begin by asking candidates to introduce themselves to the rest of the group, but more often the group will be divided into pairs, with each person having a few minutes to find out as much as they can about their partner with a view to making the introduction on their behalf.  Thereafter, there is likely to be a combination of the interviewers talking about various aspects of the role and the company and various question and answer sessions.  If the role involves customer service for instance, the interviewers might go around the room asking each of the candidates to provide an example of what constitutes good or bad customer service.  In other cases they might leave it to the candidates themselves to volunteer responses, and of course the interviewers will be paying careful attention to who speaks up and who doesn’t, as well as to things like whether candidates try to talk over one another or only interject at an appropriate moment.  In some cases, interviewers will also be looking to spot those candidates who demonstrate the potential for supervisory or management positions.

Another element of group interviews that candidates need to be aware of though, is that sometimes they involve role-play exercises.  In an interview to recruit retail sales assistants, for instance, one person might be assigned the role of an angry customer while the other is asked to play the sales assistant and to respond to the complaint as they would in real life.  Alternatively, candidates might be given a work-related task to complete as part of a group, with each group then having to present its results to the others.  Again, the way that group members interact and each individual’s communications skills will be assessed as the task is performed.

Although many people tend to think of group interviews as being easier than one-to-one or panel interviews because the focus of the interviewers isn’t entirely on them as an individual, it is important to remember that your personal performance is being observed.

Again, here are a few tips for making the very best impression in group interviews:

  • While you should always listen to the other candidates when they are talking and should never try to dominate the conversation, it is important that you contribute rather than just being an observer.
  • Be confident, but not aggressive.  Remember, the interviewers are going to be assessing how well you work as part of a team.
  • Be conscious of your body language as this can be especially telling in group situations.
  • Acknowledge the contributions that other candidates make and don’t be afraid to praise them.  Yes, you are in competition with the other people in the room, but if a recruiter has chosen to conduct a group interview then there will be more than one position up for grabs and it is vital that you are seen as a team player.
  • If you experience a personality clash with one of the other candidates, never let it show.  Remain professional at all times.
  • Don’t forget to keep an eye on the interviewers as you will often be able to pick up on valuable expressions of approval and disapproval.
  • Just as with one-to-one and panel interviews, group interviewers will expect you to ask questions of your own, so make sure that you have some prepared.

There you have it. You now know about the various types of job interviews.

Job Interview Preparation: Essential Research Topics to Ensure You Crack It!

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Succeeding at a job interview is about convincing the recruiter that you are the best possible match, both for the role and the company.  In order to be able to do that though, you need to do some job interview preparation. There are a number of things that you need to have an in-depth understanding of and that you will need to research in advance.

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Make sure you do your homework before a job interview

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 1 – The position – Presumably you wouldn’t have applied for the job in the first place if you didn’t properly understand what it entailed, but be sure to revisit the job advertisement and get hold of a copy of the job description (if you haven’t already done so) before you attend your interview.  Both of these will give you tremendous clues as to the skills and qualities that the recruiter is seeking, not to mention giving you a steer in terms of the organization’s culture, priorities and pain points.

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 2 – The company – Even if you are not asked directly what you know about the company that you are applying to, demonstrating your knowledge of the organization will show the recruiter that you are sufficiently enthusiastic and committed to have done your homework.  More than this though, if you properly understand where the company has come from, where it is now and where it is going, you will find it far easier to present yourself as someone who can provide relevant solutions to their concerns and issues.  Here are some of the areas that you need to research:

  • The company’s background and history
  • Its offerings – what type of goods or services does the organization supply?
  • The organizational structure and business ownership
  • What differentiates the company from its competitors
  • Where the business is located
  • How many people it employs
  • The organization’s financial status
  • The company culture
  • The business’ strategic plans – what are its shorter and longer term objectives?
  • What the company values
  • The challenges that the business is currently facing

Check the company website, social network pages, online employee reviews, online and published news reports and press releases, articles, trade journals, magazines, periodicals and the company’s annual report, as well as using your network of contacts to really dig deep.

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 3 – The industry – The company that you are interviewing with doesn’t operate in a vacuum, so find out what’s happening within the industry as a whole.  What are the current trends and what are the greatest challenges, threats and opportunities within the industry?

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 4 – The interviewer – Few interviewees think to check out the person who is going to be interviewing them, but in fact knowing something about the interviewer’s background, their achievements within the company and any special areas of interest that they might have will give you clues as to how you can best relate to them and how best to create a rapport. Often a quick Google search can provide lots of interesting insights about a person. Also have a look at any social network profiles which are available.

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 5 – Yourself – It’s actually quite surprising how many job candidates turn up for interviews without being absolutely sure in their minds as to what they have to offer and how their offering can benefit the recruiter.  Study your resume and prepare yourself by making direct links between your skills, talents, experience and personal qualities and the tasks and responsibilities of the role and the recruiter’s concerns.

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 6 – Common interview questions – Although it’s far more useful to study the recruiter’s published requirements to work out which areas the interview questions are likely to focus on, it can also be helpful to research some of the most commonly-used interview questions to give you an idea in terms of how the interviewer’s enquiries might be presented.

Job Interview Preparation, Research Topic 7 – Salary ranges – Although salaries and benefits are things that you should never raise at the first interview stage and that you should avoid discussing until after you have received a firm job offer if at all possible, if the recruiter pushes you to find out your current or expected earnings, the easiest way to avoid talking specifics is to limit the conversation to the general salary range for a similar position in the same geographical area.  Various websites provide salary ranges for particular types of job by region, so always be sure to get a feel for what’s reasonable so that you are prepared if the subject does come up.