Friday, 28 September 2012

How to be interviewed.. 8 different types of interview

In the rich and varied  tapestry that is my life,  as well as career coaching, I do recruitment interviewing and experience what it is like to interview job applicants. And often what I experience is a real mismatch between what people appear to have done (on their CV etc) and how they perform in interview.

I wonder how they prepare for their interview and what they actually think the purpose of the exchange is.
First you need to understand what kind of interview you are having. Ask if it is not clear from the invitation. this is a guide to the main interview types you might encounter. They may be one on one, they may have two or three people interviewing at the same time. 

If it is a competence based interview or a behavioural interview you need to be able to describe your achievements and the way that you have overcome challenges and difficulties in detail. You will be asked to 'tell me about a time when...' The interviewer wants to hear about what you do, about how you achieve things. They want to hear about the way you operate. So your preparation needs to focus on unpicking the things  you do, making those things you 'just do' explicit. You need to understand how you influence others, manage your team and achieve results.

If you are having a technical interview then the emphasis is less about style and more about knowledge. The interviewer wants to know what you know and what you are able to do. You are likely to get asked about your opinions of 'hot topics', you will be asked 'how you would ensure...'. You will be asked about what you would do. The interviewer may well ask you to substantiate your opinion or the theoretical answer by an example. You need to know your stuff, you need to be able to evidence that you really understand what is happening in your trade and what is coming over the horizon. The difficulty of answering these questions orally means that some organisations, such as Judicial Appointments Commission,  will set written tests to see which candidates have the best knowledge. At a more practical level you may be asked to complete a relevant task or exercise which mimics the job. 

The critical incident interview is a mix of both of the above, you will be given a scenario and asked how you would respond. If the incident is relevant to the job, then your technical knowledge and behaviours are being tested at the same time. So in an HR interview your might be asked what you would do if a manager phoned you and said they had sacked someone they had caught stealing. Your ability to understand the legalities of this and your style in dealing with the manager are being tested. 

The bio-data or biographical  interview is one where the interviewer will take you through your biography and seek to understand your motivations and drivers. they will ask you what you learned, felt and what motivated you to do what you did. Whilst this interview is exploring your experience and precisely what you did, how much responsibility you had, it is seeking to understand what makes you tick.

The stress interview. Another way of testing you out is to deliberately put you under pressure in a stress test. This rather contrived and manipulative way of relating to candidates seeks to see how you will re-act under pressure. 

The phone interview. Phone interviews can be brief or they can be the substitute for a face to face interview. the short version could be a quick interview to see if you meet some key criteria. They may want to check out your ability to travel to the location, your salary expectations and your motivations. Often these interviews are used to screen out candidates who don't have the required interpersonal skills, diction, verbal ability etc. It is so easy to apply for jobs online that employers use this device to check out that you are really interested in the role and do have the relevant experience.

The video interview. This is a recent innovation and is growing in popularity, especially in high volume recruitment where interpersonal skills/appearance matter. You will be invited to submit your videoed response to either standard questions that the computer will give you, or in some cases you may be asked to submit a 60 second video saying why you want the job. You will usually be given an opportunity to practice answering and employers can watch your answers when they choose to. 

The lunch interview or as I call it, trial by knife and fork. An employer may want to give you an opportunity to meet key stakeholders of the role, or the team you will manage or the colleagues you will work with. It is probably not possible to know whether this is part of the formal selection process or not. I have been involved where all participants have had to talk to all guests and then the guests score the candidate or asked for an opinion. On other occasions the guests go away without having an influence on the process. Never do anything but take this sort of occasion as an opportunity to launch the charm offensive. And you do that best by listening.

Whatever type of interview you are having you must prepare and you must, must, must think about what your audience want to hear you talk about. Which experiences, which opinions and what key stories you need to tell them. What will impress? What is most relevant to the audience? the answer to my question, what is the purpose of the exchange is - to convince and persuade the interviewers that you can do their job. So think about what they will want you to do and tell them about similar things that you have already done.. that is what will win you the role.

For more interview tips and techniques visit  and discover how to turbo-charge your interview confidence!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Put up your fences -Setting Boundaries at Work

"Good fences make good neighbours."
– Old Proverb
Fences allow you to protect what's valuable to you. They also allow you to control who and what enters your space.
In the workplace, setting boundaries helps establish a productive work environment. You – and everyone you work with – have different values, needs, and beliefs about what's right. These differences can lead to conflict, resentment, anger, anxiety, and stress.
Does your colleague like last-minute deadlines and working under pressure, but you like to plan ahead and have everything finished early? You can do things your colleague's way (and end up stressed) – or you can recognize what you need to be effective, and then ask for it.
Do you have a colleague who yells and screams when she's under stress? Does this behaviour upset you? Then you owe it to yourself to say something to her, so that she understands the negative impact she's having on other people.
This is called managing your boundaries. It's an assertive and responsible way to make sure others respect your needs, while you respect theirs.
By taking the time to understand and map your boundaries, you will.
  • Be able to say no to requests that conflict with your needs.
  • Better understand how to deal with conflict, directly and assertively.
  • Increase your personal sense of empowerment.
Boundary management is essentially a three-step process:
  1. Becoming aware of your needs.
  2. Setting your boundaries.
  3. Monitoring your boundaries.
Step One: Become Aware of Your Needs
  • Do you sometimes doubt that you have a right to ensure your needs are met?
  • Do you avoid speaking up for yourself on a regular basis, and do you let things go, and not react to bad situations?
  • Do you tend to avoid conflict? Do you let others have their way or make decisions for you?
  • Do you agree to do things that you really don't want to do – and later regret it?
These are all signs that you don't actively try to have your needs met – and that you haven't established your boundaries.
Some of us seem to have the persistent and questionable belief that to get along with others, we need to give much more than we take. We may think that asking for what we want is selfish, that it's not good team behaviour. So we may say things like "Whatever you choose will be great!" and we may agree to do things we don't want to do, and shouldn't have to do.
This is a great strategy for avoiding conflict and confrontation with others. Unfortunately, it can create a destructive conflict inside of you. You can build up anger and tension – because you give away your power and you're not getting what you need. Eventually, this tension and anger can become too great, and you won't be able to tolerate it anymore.
It's far better to become aware of what you need, and then to develop strategies to ensure that your needs are met appropriately.
Whether or not you acknowledge your needs, they're often met anyway – though not necessarily in a good way. For example, if you need structure and you're not getting it, you might create charts and graphs and schedules for everything – but your team mates may hate this. If you need to be liked, you might avoid conflict at all costs – but this could allow people to make poor decisions. It's not constructive to try to satisfy your needs in this way – and it may lead to much greater problems in the long run.
The most obvious way to become aware of your needs is to think of times when you felt angry, tense, or resentful – or times when you were embarrassed by your reaction to something. These can be signs that your needs were not met.
Remember when you experienced these feelings and had these reactions, and ask yourself these questions:
  • What need or value was not honoured by others?
  • What did you really want?
Then complete the following phrases:
  • I have a right to ask for ________, because I need ________.
  • It's OK to protect my time by________, because I need ________.
  • I will not allow others to________, because I need ________.
Step Two: Set Your Boundaries
When you understand what you need to be happy, that's only the first part of the process. You must also let others know what you need. Your colleagues, peers, and friends can't always figure this out on their own. You have to tell them (and remind them) of your needs and your boundaries.
Follow these guidelines:
  • Be assertive – Communicate assertively. Tell people what you need, and work with them to reach solutions that can satisfy everyone. Without assertiveness, you risk allowing other people's needs to come first.
  • Learn to say no, when appropriate – If you say yes to everything, you risk not having enough time to do anything properly. You also risk not working on the things that are truly important. Use an urgent/important sift to determine your priorities and understand your roles and responsibilities.
  • Use effective time management – A big part of setting boundaries is making time for your work and time for personal interests. When you put all your energy into only one thing, you risk burning out and not enjoying life. With good time management, you can get things done more efficiently.  . This can help you work less and play more!
  • Focus on your objectives – Getting what you want takes commitment. Setting boundaries isn't always easy, so maintain a strong focus on your overall objectives.Good goal setting Strategies will help you achieve this.
Step Three: Monitor Your Boundaries
When you start to set boundaries, it will help you enjoy an immediate sense of empowerment and control. It's a great feeling – knowing that you can ask for what you need, and then get it.
It's also important that boundaries are not completely fixed or unchangeable: Sometimes life needs a certain amount of flexibility. Rigid, inflexible boundaries may get in the way of your needs – because your needs can change, depending on the situation.
If you're very disciplined with your time, this likely improves your productivity. But if a project needs you to work well with a colleague, you may not want to end your meeting with him at the scheduled time if you need to build that relationship.
Make sure the boundaries you set are appropriate, and be willing to make changes, depending on the situation.
Also, keep in mind that while you may set up an imaginary fence around you, this doesn't mean that you don't have any responsibility for what happens outside your boundaries. You can say no when you're asked to take on more work, but you can still help find someone else to do that work. You can delegate a task to someone, but you're still responsible for the outcome.
Remember, boundaries are a way to help you work more effectively with others. They're not meant to keep you completely separate and apart from others. 

Thanks to Mind Tools 

For more great careers advice and support on how to get paid more, promoted faster and feel more satisfied go to

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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Keep on checking your profile

Everyone who is job searching and looking to find a new role or more work needs to have current and up to date public profile. We all know that and I tell people that all the time! But had a real shock today when a friend drew my attention to some of the information on my Linked In profile.

All of these sites change their format from time to time and so you need to keep checking that what you have written on there is what you need people to know about you, now. Not stuff from two years ago.

I discovered that they had a link to a website I don't service....
I had a description of my business activity that no longer applies....
I had no phone number...

All of these are fundamental to my success. All of these were correct and in place at one time but some things like the website I have changed others things they have altered.

There has been a lot of chatter about Linked In porfiles being out of date - I connected with him and saw his email was from a previous job, if you want to network and be found, make sure your information is correct.

So yes, I have changed and updated the profile and so should you.

For more advice and support on furthering your career go to

Monday, 10 September 2012

Super summer of sport Olympics and Paralympics

So what will I do now that the greatest show on earth is over?  
But what to do afterwards? well I hear Mo Forrah is eating chips, and Tom Daley is back at school. But actually both of those guys are just taking a break before they get back into training, they have already set new goals before they had achieved the previous ones.
It is really important to set goals but don't make them so finite that afterwards you feel deflated and it's all an anti climax. As you near the summit, start thinking about the journey down and the warm bath and the next mountain you want to climb. Always keepa goal in front of you.
People have been saying, what will Seb Coe do now, I bet he already knows and has already set himself a challenge. He is mentally preparing for his next acheivement.
What does this mean for our careers?
Yes have a goal, yes have a game plan and a development plan, keep on working towards that goal AND start thinking about the what happens after. Work is a part of life, start preparing for what you want to be not just what you want to do.

I loved all the Olympics and Paralymics and shed so many tears. What does it take to be that good, to be excellent?  Hard work, dedication, achievement orientation and very clear vision and goals. I was struck by the number of young men and women who had put their lives, their marriages,  their babies and the things the rest of us taken for granted on hold (a Mcflurry, a glass of wine..)They are single minded in pursuit of their goals. I really ‘got it’ when Jody Cundy threw his strop about the mechanical failure.. four years of his life had gone into this short space of time. I saw the Queen’s sense of duty and her loyalty to her job at the Jubilee and now I have seen another characteristic of excellence in these sports people.  That has been lots of talk about the brilliance of the games makers, they’ve loved it but it has been an act of generous altruism that has motivated them.
For most of us our jobs are less than all consuming and we try to achieve a work-life balance; but take a moment to think about who was your hero this summer, what is the lesson you learned from them, download a picture, write your lesson, stick it in your diary/daybook/calendar and create your own personal legacy from these awe inspiring games. Be different. Be part of the seismic change.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

LinkedIn may not be the death of the CV? and tips to maximise your use of it

Nederlands: Linked In icon
Nederlands: Linked In icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
HR professionals and recruitment consultants using LinkedIn to research potential candidates are right to use caution. New research from ICM reveals that two thirds of those who have ever been on LinkedIn do not update their information.
ICM’s research into the user habits of those who are ‘active’ on LinkedIn (i.e. those with an up-to-date profile) indicates that recruiters face challenges beyond identifying potential candidates with an up-to-date record.
The research suggests that the number of connections an individual has isn’t necessarily indicative of how well connected they are. 30% of active LinkedIn users have accepted a connection request from someone they don’t know, and 16% have requested to Linkin with unknown ‘contacts’.
With almost one in 10 (9%) admitting to exaggerating their career achievements on their profile, it also begs the question how much credence can recruiters give to the skills and experiences recorded by LinkedIn users?

The research also looks at the use of personal recommendations, one of the capabilities of the LinkedIn system. 10% of active users have secured a recommendation by offering to write one in return. 8% have written a “flattering” recommendation for someone by way of a “favour”, but also because they felt obliged to do so.

Maurice Fyles, Research Director at ICM, says: “From our interviews with professional recruiters it is evident that they find LinkedIn a useful way of identifying and engaging potential candidates who might previously have remained unknown to them. It also seems that they aware of some of the ways it is being used and misused and approach the information on LinkedIn with a healthy amount of skepticism. Our research confirms they are right to be cautious.”

[Thanks to the HR Review for this research report]

So what is the learning for those who are job searching?
  1. Well keep your profile up to date
  2. Be alive in Linked in, that will increase your chances of a recruiter choosing to phone you
  3. Don't ask for loads of recommendations and avoid doing 'tit for tat' ones
  4. Be careful about who you link with, can a recruiter see a community in your contacts or just miscellaneous contacts
  5. It is OK to ask to link with people you don't know.. if you have a genuine reason to link with them
  6. Make sure that what you say on LI is the same info as on your CV, if you have two different versions it will set hares running.
For more top tips to build your career:
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