A career expert cracking the interview code

By Lori Youmshajekian  Wednesday, 27 February 2019  @Business School

​You've just got off the phone with HR – congratulations! You've landed an interview for your dream job. It's the last hurdle (bar the reference check) between you and the role you've always wanted.  

For many, the dreaded interview is the most anxiety provoking part of job-hunting. For almost an entire hour, you're put on the spot, grilled and asked to speak about yourself.  

Blair Slater from UNSW Sydney's Careers and Employment team says that the interview is the best opportunity job-seekers have to market themselves.

Here is his advice on how to ace the job interview.   

The proof is in the pickle  

What would make you want to work at Hungry Jacks over McDonald's?  

Slater says researching the organisation and determining what specifically appeals to you is a crucial part of preparing for an interview.  

"Hungry Jacks and McDonald's are both very successful fast food restaurants, but how do they differentiate themselves?" Slater says.  

"You want to emphasise to the interviewers that you want to work for that specific organisation and you're not just after a job." 

Spend time looking at what the organisations priorities are and know what it is about that particular organisation that appeals to you. 

Sell yourself, but not too much  

Be prepared to answer 'why are you the right candidate' with your top three selling points.  

"If you have a difficult time thinking of your three strengths, the employer is obviously going to have an even more difficult time," Slater says.  

But he warns against letting the interview become an ego-trip.  

"You should provide strong evidence for why you're the best fit throughout the interview, but not all at once and not unsolicited," Slater says.   

"Remember that you are not as experienced as the people interviewing you, even though you may be coming in with fantastic credentials, you need to acknowledge the experience of the people in front of you." 

Slater recommends doing mock interviews with a Careers Consultant at UNSW Sydney to see where to draw the line when it comes to overconfidence in the interview stage.  

Set the scene  

Laying the foundation for the rest of the conversation, 'tell me about yourself' is a deceptively simple job interview opener.  

Slater recommends using the PAWS acronym to structure a response – (Personal, Academic, Work experience and Skills.  

"'Personal' is not, I like long walks on the beach, personal is your motivation for applying for this position," Slater says.  

Slater recommends keeping the response within two minutes, for example:    

 My name is Blair, I came to UNSW because I'm really interested in Commerce.  

When I was young, I always was fascinated by how people made money and that's led me to pursue a Commerce degree. In my degree, I've been able to excel at finance and economics.  

In addition to my academics outside of work, I have a part-time job at Starbucks where I'm developing my communication and my interpersonal skills which I feel are pivotal skills that would help me in this position.  

Not just an after thought 

Sending a thank you note after an interview is always good professional courtesy to follow.  

"Always send an email thank you note and even if you don't have the correct person's email you will have the contact of the person who sent you the invite," Slater says.  

"A follow up e-mail is also a chance for you to reinforce your interests in the position and add one or two sentences on something you may have forgotten." 

Slater suggests this as a starting point: 

Thank you so much for your time, the interview helped me really confirm my interest in this position. I should mention as well that my exchange term in China helped me develop these skills that I think would also be another asset to me in this position. 

 

UNSW Business School provides opportunities in networking, mentoring, internships and global experiences through Career Accelerator.


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