In a previous life, as the manger of a graduate program, I was always interviewing, coaching, mentoring and helping young ambitious graduates settle into the first few years of their corporate life.

Having successfully hired over 25 graduates during my time and conducted easily over 100 interviews, I know within the first 5 minutes whether someone is going to work out or not.

As a professional coach, I work with people who are looking for new jobs and needing to brush up on their interview skills and spending so much time as the interviewer it means I can successfully working with my client to prepare them.

Initially, the first thing to focus on is, “how can you change your mind set about interviews?” They should not be seen as scary or nerve-racking and my biggest piece of advice is to remember, that YOU are also interviewing them. The position/company has to be right for you just as much as you need to be right for it.

So take a moment to write down the things you are looking. Is it culture, progression, training, development, travel, distance from home, management, salary, benefits or the environment?

Next is all about preparation, this means, knowing the company, products, customers, what they do, their growth, opportunities, objectives, financials, values and mission. The best place to find this out is obviously their website, annual report, check for any news articles, see if you know anyone thorough linked in who works there to get the inside scope and finally read case studies or testimonials.

Some key points: be on time (even 5 minutes early), take a notebook in with you, look the part, think about where you will park beforehand, make sure your linked in profile is up to date, ask your recruiter questions about what they may cover, be yourself, smile and take three deep breathes before entering the office.

Most people are usually nervous about the behavioural questions that you typical get in interviews. The reason for this is because you feel put on the spot, struggling to find examples and experiences that answer their question.

When working with my clients I always work with the STAR model which creates a great framework to answer these types of questions.

Be sure to understand the key responsibilities of the role and ask if a job description is available. Through this process identify the key skills you may need to be successful. Time management, issue resolution, problem solving, team work, autonomy, customer service, sales skills and then find examples in your current role where you use these skills.

Below is the STAR model, so as you are remembering “a time” when you used those skill, tell the story using the below frame work:

Situation – What is the situation or the environment you were in?

Task – What did you need to accomplish to deal with the situation? When thinking about the situation what was your and what did you need to do?

Action – What exactly did you do? Discuss the steps you took in this situation to make sure you use the key skills you are trying to explain.

Result – What was the outcome? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Promote yourself and your achievements.

So lets use the example: Tell me a time when you had to deal with a difficult person?

Think about the skill they are looking for through this question: communication, issues resolution and moving forward –



So the story goes………

Situation – After recently hiring a new accountant who came on board just before our major conference, I started to notice a shift in his behaviour. As we were moving towards conference deadline, he was quite short, assertive and really difficult to work with. I realised invoices were going unpaid and impacting our suppliers.

Task – I needed to resolve this issue quickly and ensure moving forward all our invoices were paid. The best course of action was to organise a meeting with him to understand the situation and find out what was going for him in his new role.

Action – After having an open conversation, I started to understand that he was feeling really overwhelmed in his new role and felt the processes were not effective. After this discussing this, I suggested we brainstorm so ideas to create improve the process.

Result – From this conversation, we created a new process that invoices were paid once a month, this means that we can communicate with suppliers, everyone knows what to expect. He was less stressed and both teams were aware of time frames and the communication was clear. From this I learnt that it is always better to approach someone if there is conflict and be apart of the solution not the problem.

Using this framework will help you keep focused, specific and allows you to practice answering this questions with a friend or family member. Remember you can always work a coach who will be able to help fine tune your interview skills to ensure you SHINE like the STAR you are.

Give me a call if you are looking for a new job or have an interview coming up…