As with all things, interviewing is a skill that you can improve upon with practice and focus. A major focus of the people running the interview is to determine if you will be able to do the job. It’s your goal to convince them that you can.
A powerful way to do this is to find examples of times that you used the skills or capabilities that the interviewers care about, and to communicate them in a tightly focused way.
You need to do this whether interviewers are using highly structured competency based questioning, or if they are just freewheeling around various areas of interest.
The model that you can use is called ‘STAR’:
- Situation – What was the scenario you were in? People involved, deadlines, risks and opportunities etc.
- Task – What were you tasked to do. This is the last time you can say “we”
- Action – What did you do. Get specific here, this is the key point of the narrative
- Result – What was the outcome of your actions, how did they achieve the task and why was your specific contribution important?
There’s often a follow-up question regarding what you learnt or what you’d do differently next time. This is also given significant weighting in the assessment, so make sure to have an answer here.
For any given role, there are probably fewer than 10 core competencies that interviewers will ask for. In a leadership role that might be things like:
- How you bring people together to complete a project
- How you inspire your group
- How you deal with difficult situations
- How you make tough decisions
- How you coach or mentor more junior people
- How you encourage innovation and improvement
For each of these likely competencies, think about a strong example of showing those skills, ideally at levels pushing at the edge or beyond your current role.
Write them down, practice saying them out loud. Get your situation and task outline down to less than a minute. Research the particular common competency areas that align to your role, and make sure your actions tie to the positive indicators of that role.
Build up a bank of these answers that you can bring to bear during an interview. Many of the questions you will be asked will looking at similar skills, so pick something from your list that’s close match, and go with it.
Prepare for these structured sections, practice your answers and you’ll be nailing any interviews you take part in.