How to Handle Awkward Interview Questions – Part 1
There are some classic, tricky interview questions that always seem to pop up but what's the best way to answer them?
Even though restrictions are gradually being lifted, we are likely a long way from being able to return to a recognisable recruitment process in the workplace.
However, due to the current situation, more people than ever are now available for the roles which are on offer while at the same time interviews cannot be held in person. In such a competitive market, if you are a candidate interviewing online, perhaps for the first time, how do you present yourself successfully to maximise your chances to secure the position?
In this blog we offer some useful ideas and strategies to help with the process. You might find some of these tips useful even when preparing for a face-to-face interview in the future too, along with our previous blog on Top Tips for Job Interviews.
Do your research: prepare for the interview just like you would if you were going to have it face-to-face. Research the company and industry you are looking to work for using all tools available to you such as the company website, industry forums or trade journals. If you know the name of your interviewer you can look them up on LinkedIn to find out more about them and their position in the company.
Ask for relevant information before the interview: 40%* of candidates feel they don’t receive enough information before an interview and therefore can’t perform to the best of their ability. Don’t be afraid to ask your potential employer for clear instructions and practical details in advance of the interview to allow you to prepare fully. ( *Ref. Total Jobs)
Some questions that you might want to consider asking in advance:
· How the interview will be structured?
· What is the decision-making process and expected time-frame?
· What are the role requirements?
· Approximately how long will the interview will last?
Familiarise yourself with the video interview format: For larger companies, it is possible that the interview will be pre-recorded at the initial stage of the process. This would take the form of questions being asked by the interviewer or the questions appearing on screen. You would then have your responses recorded automatically and sent to your potential employer. However,most video interviews will take the form of real-time meetings, allowing you to show more of your personality and ask questions. Find out in advance the format that your interview will take in order to be as prepared as possible so that you can focus on communicating what you can offer to the best of your ability.
Make sure you have everything you need before an interview via video conference. Ensure you have read and digested all of the information you have been given by the potential employer, as well as having your own research and questions to hand.
Be on time: Don’t be late for the call. Try to login a couple of minutes early so you can be waiting for the interviewer to start the meeting.
Contact details: Make sure you have the interviewer’s contact details to hand to ensure you can make contact quickly should you lose connection.
Find a quiet space: Find a space with as little background noise as possible. Also be aware of what will be in the background of the video frame – if your background is busy, the interviewer might find it distracting and lose focus on what you are saying.
Look the part: Tempting as it is to conduct video conferences in casual clothes, dress in the way you would have done in a face-to-face interview. It will help both participants feel more professional and focused on the conversation and help you to be at ease knowing you are dressed in a similar way to your interviewer.
Body language: Be aware of where you’re sitting in relation to the camera – being too close can feel unnatural, while being too far away could impact how well you’re heard. Having your head and upper body in shot is recommended. Make sure you are looking at the camera’s lense.
Test your software: Ensure that you familiarise yourself with the video call platform you are using to make the process run as smoothly as possible.
Test your connection: Make sure you have stable WiFi connection. If you are unsure, you could run a test call with a friend before the interview just to be sure.
Check the sound: At the start of the interview, check that you can hear each other clearly and be aware of any possible buffering which could cause a slight delay in response.
Relax: The unusual situation of interviewing by video can create heightened anxiety. Try to remain relaxed, perhaps taking some time before the interview to engage in some simple breathing exercises. This will help you to focus better on the questions being asked and take the emphasis off of the remote nature of the meeting.
Expect a little small-talk: You may find that your interviewer is not used to conducting online interviews themselves so you may both be feeling a little nervous. Your interviewer is likely to make some small talk first by way of an ice breaker. This is a great opportunity for you to build a rapport with the interviewer before you move to the formal questions. It will allow you to show more of your personality and also gives you chance to check whether you can hear each other before you get on with the main part of the interview.
What will you be asked: There is no reason that the questions you will be asked at an online interview will be any different to those at a face-to-face interview. The rest of the process should be conducted in the usual way.
Ending the interview: At the end of the video conference, ensure that you have asked any questions that you may have had and that you both know how to contact each other again for any further information before you both log off.
If the idea of taking on a new task such as conducting online interviews seems daunting or you want to develop your interview skills further in order to progress your career, you may benefit from some interview coaching. Contact Careers in Depth so that you can find out how one of our expert career consultants can help you.
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