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  • Nigel Nolan

Essential Preparation for Job Interviews

As the interviewee, your main task or purpose is to show the interviewers (i.e. the hiring manager, HR, and anyone else the company involves in the process) that you are the best and most suitable candidate for the position. But how do you do this? Simply put, you must demonstrate that you possess all or most of the key requirements for that particular position.

This involves knowing what those requirements are, which is simpler when the position was advertised on an online job board or in a newspaper because such advertisements usually specify the qualifications, skills and experience required - either as essential or desirable requirements. Sometimes, however, these advertised requirements are incomplete because some hiring managers copy & paste from similar advertisements they found online. So research similar positions so that you know what is usually required – more on this below.

Many jobs are not advertised but instead are sourced through networking (and estimates are that 50% to 75% of all jobs are secured through networking). This poses a problem for a person preparing to interview for a non-advertised job as there probably isn’t an available list of key requirements. But fear not, it is not particularly complicated to discover what these probably are!

One way to ascertain what the key requirements are for a particular job is to do a Google and/or LinkedIn search for advertised postings of similar positions – it doesn’t matter if these are a couple of years old. What you are trying to do is find a few job advertisements and, from the listed requirements in them, identify the most common requirements for this type of job – these common requirements will most likely be the “key requirements” for the type of position you are researching. The other requirements mentioned by individual companies will be specific to those companies (e.g. for culture fit or variations in how the job is to be done).

Now that you have identified the “key requirements” generally sought for such jobs, your task is to prepare answers to questions about them – questions phrased like: “Tell me about a time you did X”, or “Give me an example of when you had experience of X” (where X is one of the key requirements). This type of questioning is a very common approach in competency-based interviews which are becoming more common in Singapore.

The way to demonstrate your competency in a particular skill is to use the C-A-R approach: C-A-R stands for Content, Action, Results. When preparing your ‘story’ of when you did or had experience in X, phrase it in terms of explaining the background (the Context), then talk about the Action you took, and finish by highlighting the Result – what was achieved. Discussing a skill or experience using the C-A-R method will make your story credible and will add impact to your interview performance!

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