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We’ve reviewed over 200 interview responses to date! It seems like a good time to share our top pieces of advice.
It seems an obvious one, however it is often skipped over! This is the most important success factor in an interview, and also one that you have complete control over.
Doing research beforehand is essential to a good interview outcome!
Find out the academic and personal requirements, do background research into the university or course you’re applying for, and try to figure out what they’re looking for in their ideal candidate.
If you can, find out which department or individual will be interviewing you.
Understanding what kind of interview will be conducted and the format the interview will take is key.
The midwifery interview follows a structure including various ‘types’ of questions, such as;
- Real Life Experience
- Competency (behavioural) Based
- Role / Responsibility Based
- Opinion Based
Understanding what kind of experience these questions refer to will allow you to prepare relevant examples beforehand.
This way you won’t be left struggling to think on the spot, or suddenly feeling out of your depth.
Once you know and understand what is expected of you in an interview, it makes things a little easier.
All you need to do is prepare examples of how your experience is relevant, and how you stand out as the perfect candidate.
Being prepared means you can do this calmly and with confidence.
2. Avoid generic comments
‘I believe I am an excellent team player and can be relied on to work effectively in a group. I can actively support the team to achieve the high standards that would be expected’
Interviewees include these sorts of generalised comments when the evidence they are presenting (the examples) aren’t doing a good enough job of speaking for themselves.
Provide evidence of your ability to meet the interview criteria, with a clear example of when you have done so.
3. Don’t invent unrealistic details
Your interview answers need to ring true. Here are some examples which don’t do this…
‘I challenged a colleague on their negative behaviour and they immediately promised to change and thanked me for my input’.
People don’t generally tend to make a complete change to their personality on the spot, especially straight after they’ve been criticised for their attitude and behaviour.
‘During my time in food service I resolved a customer complaint by giving everyone free drinks and free email vouchers for their next visit. My boss was happy because I’d used my initiative’.
Bosses have bottom lines to think of and giving away vast amounts of freebies to customers without permission would not be likely to go down so well!
‘During my time as a sales assistant I dealt with a serious issue, with potential grave repercussions, single handedly.’
Your role and level of responsibility needs to match the problem you took on. In most jobs there is a hierarchy, and saying that you dealt with an issue which you would not have had the authority to manage will raise alarm bells.
4. Don’t miss the point on team-working
Team-working is a key element in the majority of working environments, so it is important to understand exactly what this mean and what an interviewer is looking for when they ask you to demonstrate this skill by means of an example.
It is easy to get team-working confused with problem solving. You can tell if this is happening to you if:
- You mention an outcome, like that the team resolved a problem, with no reference to how you helped them achieve it.
- You’re describing positive team behaviours with no link to you, or how your actions encouraged this to happen.
- When explaining that the team had a great success you detail only the steps the whole team took to deal with the task or issue. You focus on the specifics of the task, and not how individuals worked together to achieve it.
So, when demonstrating how you are a good team player – remember to prepare an example (avoiding the above traps!).
Focus on how your specific actions showed a willingness and ability to take consideration of other people’s strengths and weaknesses to cohesively achieve a joint goal.
5. Don’t assume the interviewers know what you’re talking about
It can be hard to translate your experience, the context and the specifics of a task or role to a layperson. And a lot of interviewees forget to bother!
Assume the interviewer knows nothing about the job or task you are describing.
Unless you are already doing the job you are being interviewed for, they probably don’t.
6. Don’t forget to sell yourself
It can sometimes be hard to overcome the feeling of being immodest, or the desire not to appear boastful.
However in an interview scenario an interviewer won’t become aware of your positive traits and characteristics (that make you the ideal candidate for the job!) unless you tell them.
A good tip is to be prepared for the question ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’. This is an ideal scenario to detail how you will be an asset to their team and fulfil the role with confidence.
You can also prepare an answer for your weaknesses, which can be a difficult question for many candidates!
However you can word an answer in a way that it demonstrates your self-awareness and an acknowledgement of your personal limitations – and how you have overcome these in the most positive way you know how.