Ask James Reed: how to ace the job interview
Questions employers ask at interview can range from the standard ‘What are your weaknesses?’ to out-of-the-box questions like ‘How many traffic lights are there in London?’ – James Reed can help you decipher what they are really asking.Find out how to pass your next interview with flying colours with this free webinar, in which James shared insight from his 25 years in recruitment and answered your burning questions.This webinar was the second instalment of a two-part series based on two of his books:- The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview- Why You? 101 Interview Questions You’ll Never Fear AgainIn case you missed the first one on CV-writing tips, you can watch it back here.Speaker profile: James Reed, CEO and Chairman, ReedJames Reed has worked in recruitment and careers for more than 25 years. Reed receives forty million job applications a year and has delivered over one hundred programmes to help more than 200,000 people who had been long-term unemployed back into work.The Reed Group currently employs more than 3,800 people across the globe helping to improve lives through work. James Reed was voted Top CEO by employee-ratings platform Glassdoor in both 2018 and 2019, and Reed won a coveted Best Places to Work Award from the same company in 2019 and 2020. This means it is the top-ranked recruiter on the list of all organisations voted as excellent workplaces by employees on Glassdoor.
How to prepare for an interview presentation
Particularly for executive level positions, a presentation stage can be an integral part of the short-listing process.Many employers opt for a presentation interview as it gives a better overview of your general aptitude when compared to (or combined with) a traditional question and answer interview. The presentation is your opportunity to showcase your knowledge, experience and communication skills as well as your general organisation and diligence.Here are our tips on how you can ensure you deliver the best interview presentation possible.Preparing your presentation for an interviewKeep each slide short and significant, aiming for no more than 10 slides. This ensures the information you deliver is memorable and will help you to stand out from other intervieweesUse a range of formats to help illustrate your points. Include graphs, statistics, diagrams, video clips, and images to help break up large volumes of text and maintain the attention of the interviewersInclude quotes from industry leaders and/or research pieces. This helps give your points authority and demonstrate your commercial awarenessIncorporate company colours or fonts in the design of your presentation. This will show you’ve done your research and highlight your brand awarenessCheck spelling and grammar thoroughly – small mistakes can really undermine the content of your presentationPresenting tipsPresent confidently and enthusiastically. Remember to speak clearly, make eye contact and use open body languagePractice, practice, practice. Ensure you are well rehearsed so that you are familiar with the structure and are able to deliver your presentation smoothlyArrive early to give yourself time to set up the presentation and settle any nervesGet comfortable with PowerPoint and presentation equipment. Make sure you know how to work the projector, visual screens or remote control before you begin to avoid any awkward stumbles or pausesHave access to multiple sources of your presentation. Email the file to yourself and the recruiter, bring a copy on a USB stick and bring printed handouts. This way you are covered if anything goes wrong with the file you’re intending to useStay within the allocated time. If you have not been given a guidance on length, aim for the 10 minute mark. Time your presentation when you are practising to make sure it will fit within your allowed time slot. If you need to reduce the content of your presentation, cut out the least relevant or weakest pointsBe prepared to adapt. You may have practiced your presentation in a certain way, but the interviewer might not respond accordingly. Be prepared to be stopped for questions or further discussion unexpectedly10 minute interview presentation templateBelow is an example for the structure of your interview presentation. Use this as a baseline and adapt or reorder where appropriate based on the task you have been set by the interviewer.Slide 1:Introduction – Reiterate the objectives you have been set and lay out the structure of your presentation so that the interviewers know what to expectSlide 2:About you – Detail your professional experience, skills and working styleSlide 3:Company history – Give a brief summary of the company history, any milestones or awardsSlides 4-7:Answering the brief – Give your responses to questions you’ve been asked to answer, the benefits and limitations of your suggestionsSlide 8:Question and answers – Include a slide titled ‘questions and answers’ as a cue to pause for interactionSlide 9:Conclusion – Sum up the key points you have made, reach a decision and explain your reasoningSlide 10:Personal achievements – End the interview on a high with a brief slide on achievements that show you will succeed in the roleTaking these steps should help you to succeed in your presentation interview.
Second interview questions to ask candidates
The second interview may seem like there is a light at the end of the tunnel after weeks of recruitment to find someone for an opening at your business. Your previous interviews have removed candidates who don't fit the role, which leaves only a handful of people, one of whom you most certainly will be working with in the near future. But working out who this person should be is often decided by running a second interview.The second interview is an important comparison task for you and your team and therefore the questions you use need to give you some real insight into the person you may employ. Yet, just as in your first round of interviews, asking the right questions can be crucial in order to understand if a candidate is suitable for the role.Although there are never a fixed set of questions to ask in the second interview, here are our selection of questions for employers to ask which will hopefully allow you to understand a candidate more fully before making a decision on who to hire.Second interview questions to ask candidates:What are your personal long term career goals?The way your candidate answers this question will give you an insight into where they would position themselves within your company in the long term. If they answer directly referencing your business then they are thinking of remaining within the company for the future and will work hard towards achieving their own career goals whilst working hard for the business. It also allows for you to gauge their personality as their honesty will be very important when making a final decision about who to hire.Do you have any questions about the business or the role since your first interview?This gives your candidate the opportunity to ask questions they may not have thought of during the nerve-wracking first interview. This is good for both of you as it allows you to see how much they have prepared for this interview but also gives them the chance to ask the really good questions they probably thought of on the journey home from the first time they met you.What skills do you think are needed for this role?This does not directly ask them what they could offer but questions their ability to comprehend the role and think critically. It then invites them to state the skills they have and how they compare with what they think is needed.Why would you not be suitable for this role?This asks your candidate to think about problem and resolution - how they would overcome any professional issues they may have in the role. How positive they are in answering this question gives you an idea for their own motivation for achievement.What changes would you make at this company?This invites your candidate to analyse the business constructively from the research they may or may not have undertaken prior to the interview. It gives you the opportunity to see how they would deal with negative questions and how they would positively bring about change. Good answers could include more specific training or offering more responsibility to certain members of the team.How soon would you be able to start this role?This is quite a typical question but an important one as the logistics of taking on new staff can be an administrative nightmare. It can be purely comparative as some candidates will be able to start sooner than others. It also shows their commitment to their current roles and how professional they are in their conduct. If they mention leaving their current position without serving notice they may do this to your business as well.Ultimately, good questions are essential in establishing who will be best for your business. Hopefully, having met with a candidate for the second time, you will have a much better understanding of their skills, capabilities and – most importantly – whether or not they would be a good fit for your business.
How long should an interview last?
Discover the full range of items to take into account when planning to interview a candidateInterviewing candidates is often the most crucial part of any recruitment process. Our clients often ask the question, “How long should an interview last?”Spending too little time in an interview can mean you don’t pick up on candidate skills. Too long and it you will experience a diminishing return on your time.Commonly, face-to-face interviews tend to last no less than 30 minutes. Half an hour doesn't give either you or the candidate an accurate impression of each other. After all, you want to ensure that they are the best fit for the business.Although it varies depending on industry, most interviews last between 45 minutes and one hour. This should provide sufficient time and flexibility from both sides to get to know one another.But what works for one business may not work for you. The length of time spent in an interview is also highly dependent on how senior and/or specialist the role is, as well as the total time you and your staff have available.So, to help you to decide on how long an interview should last, here are some items to consider:Before the interviewTo make a good impression, candidates often arrive before their allotted time. Ensure either you or a member of staff has the time to greet them before the interview begins.During the interviewMaking a firm decision on how an interview will be structured beforehand will help dictate the overall duration of the interview.If an interview is a structured series of competency based questions then the overall time spent will be fairly consistent across multiple candidates. Rehearsing the interview process with another employee can help to gauge how long the interview will take. Less formal interviews often help to gain a better insight into a candidate and can help to build a greater rapport. If you're planning on a more relaxed interview style then extra time may need to be factored in depending how the conversation develops.In certain industries, companies will often ask candidates for a demonstration of their skills alongside a traditional face-to-face interview. If there are any tasks, tests or formal presentations that need to be completed the time for these will also need to be factored in.It is also important that a candidate has the opportunity to raise anything that they're unsure about. Remember to allow time for questions from the candidate at the end of the interview.After the interviewOnce the discussions have taken place does the candidate need to be shown anything more, meet members of staff, or see your facilities?The more you can plan your interview process, the better you will be at estimating how long the interview will take – which will give you a more effective recruitment process.
Top 10 competency-based interview questions to find the perfect candidate
This list of competency-based questions encourage interviewees to use real-life examples in their answers. You get to understand how a candidate made a decision, and see the outcome of their actions.Our top ten list of competency-based interview questions will help you recruit the skills your team needs.1. What are your greatest strengths?This is a classic interview question, and with good reason.It’s a chance for your candidate to prove they have the right skills for the role. Keep the job description in mind to see whether the interviewee understands how their skills relate to the role.Remember you’re looking for transferable skills, not proof that they’ve done the role before.2. What will your skills and ideas bring to this company?This competency-based question is an opportunity to see which of your candidates stand out from the crowd.A good candidate will show an understanding of your company goals within their answer. A great candidate will offer practical examples of how their skills can help you achieve that vision.3. What have you achieved elsewhere?Confidence is key in this competency-based question. It gives your candidate an opportunity to talk about previous successes and experiences that relate to your vacancy.Make sure the achievements you take away from their answers are work-related and relevant to what you’re looking for.4. How have you improved in the last year?Candidates can tie themselves up in knots trying to disguise their weaknesses. This competency-based interview question is a chance to show a willingness to learn from their mistakes.It’s also an opportunity to test the candidate’s level of self-awareness and desire to develop."Competency-based interview questions ask for real-life examples to show a candidate’s skills."5. Tell me about a time you supported a member of your team who was strugglingThis competency-based question will test your candidate’s ability to show compassion towards their colleagues without losing sight of their own objectives.Those further along in their career should be able to reference training or mentoring that not only helped their co-worker but also improved team performance.6. Give an example of a time you’ve had to improvise to achieve your goalIn other words: “Can you think on your feet?” It is increasingly important to be able to react to unexpected situations.The candidate’s answer should highlight their ability to keep their cool and perform in a scenario they haven’t prepared for.7. What was the last big decision you had to make?The answer to this question should be a window into your candidate’s decision-making process and whether their reasoning is appropriate for your role.This is a competency-based question designed to highlight how an interviewee makes decisions. Do they use logical reasoning? Gut intuition? However they manage big decisions, does their approach match what you’re looking for?8. Tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult personAll candidates should be able to reference an experience of working with a challenging colleague. Look for them to approach this question with honesty and a clear example of working through the experience.Rather than passing blame, there should be a recognition of the part they have played in the situation, and how they might tackle it differently next time.It’s essential to get a sense of how candidates would fit and thrive within your company culture.9. What was the last thing you taught?You’ve asked the interviewee about their skills, but can they show a capability for teaching others about these skills?This question isn’t restricted to managerial or senior roles, and should be asked whenever you’re looking for a candidate who will add value to your team.10. Why are you a good fit for this company?The key to this competency-based question is whether the candidate can explain how their transferable skills would fit your role. This tests both an awareness of their own abilities and an understanding of what you are looking for in a new employee.The candidate should be able to confidently explain why they want to work for your company, and convince you that they would fit your team culture.If you’re interested in learning more about interviews, please contact your local recruitment specialist.
Top questions to ask candidates on a telephone interview
They may not be everyone's cup of tea, but telephone interviews have a lot of advantages. They are fast, easy to arrange and arm you with just the right level of information to begin whittling down your applicants.Of course phone interviews present challenges too. Mostly arising from the fact that you can't see the person you are talking to. Here's a primer on the kind of questions you should ask to get the best out of your phone interviews.Keep things simple...It's important not to get carried away with telephone interviews. Remember they are intended as a screening measure to decide who to invite for a face-face interview. You don't need your candidate's entire life story. Simple questions are the best policy.Candidates can often be nervous, which can make for an uncomfortable conversation where you fail to get the insight you need on your candidate. Put interviewees at ease by introducing yourself, explaining how long the interview will last and telling them how it will be structured.What type of questions should you ask?Remember to keep things simple. The lack of visual interaction means that phone interviews are not suited to complex questions that require lengthy answers. Of course, you want your candidates to be thorough with their answers - but don't attempt to ask anything too brow-furrowing.Questions should be geared to find out more about the applicant - expanding on the information supplied on a CV and cover letter and assessing whether their professional experience is suited to the role. Here are our tips for the best phone interview questions to ask candidates.1. What made you apply for this position?Does your candidate sound like they want the job? Look for a passionate answer. You want a candidate who really cares about getting hired by you, rather than someone who sounds indifferent and apathetic. Genuine enthusiasm shows that your candidate believes they have what it takes to succeed in the role.2. Screening questionsScreening questions allow you to gauge whether an applicant has the essential minimum experience or skills required for the role - such as expertise with a certain piece of software or a key qualification. Example screening questions might be:Are you willing to travel?Do you have a clear driving license?Do you have PRINCE2 certification?Screening questions will always be determined by the type of role you are recruiting for - and should be led by the job description. They are a simple way to make sure no unsuitable applicants make it through to an in-person interview and can be as simple as yes/no questions.3. What experience do you have that will help you succeed in this role?Look for evidence that the applicant has studied the job description. They should provide concrete examples that prove they have the experience required. Ideally their answers will also show how they have applied their knowledge/experience to provide tangible, measurable results.4. Why are you leaving your current job/Why did you leave your previous job?If your candidate launches a full scale diatribe about how much they dislike their current employer, it should probably set your alarm bells ringing. Seek out candidates who are hungry for a fresh challenge or who have been waiting for an opening in this particular field or - even better - with this organisation.5. What challenges are you looking for in a post?6. What is important to you from a job?7. How would you describe your approach to work?This set of questions is great for finding out more about the professional mindset of your applicant. How ambitious are they? Are they looking for professional development? What's their self-discipline like? Listen carefully to how they structure their answers and look for similarities with the person specification document.8. What motivates you?9. What type of work environment do you perform best in?These questions allow you to assess how well the candidate will fit with your organisation's environment. Do they need a lot of assistance or are they self-starters? Do they prefer working alone or are they great collaborators? Sometimes individuals simply aren't suited to certain working environments, no matter how talented they are.10. What are your hobbies outside of work?It can be easy to forget that your candidate is a person first and a professional second. Look for signs that the person on the end of the line will click with other members of the team.11. Do you have any questions?It's important to field any queries your candidate may have, whether about the job or the recruitment process. Once you have answered any questions, close the interview by thanking the candidate for their time and giving them your contact details - they will appreciate being able to get in touch should they think of any further questions.Getting the information you need from telephone interviews is about keeping things simple and looking for evidence that your candidates have the essentials required for the role. Come the face-to-face interviews you will have saved a lot of time by filtering out unsuitable applicants, meaning less time asking basic questions and more time deep-diving into the people behind the CVs. Just the way it should be.Looking to recruit? Contact your local Reed office.