If you are preparing yourself for an important job interview, you can be pretty sure that the interviewers who you meet will also have gone through a rigorous preparation. Most organisations of any note will have trained their interviewers well, to ensure that they use the interview to gather the most relevant information to make a highly objective recruitment decision, and chose a candidate who has the best foundation for succeeding in their organisation.
Evidence Based Interviewing (or historically sometimes referred to as Criteria Based Interviewing) is now very standard practice amongst most leading organisations; it is a simple and straightforward method that follows this line of thinking:
- What are the distinctive capabilities (knowledge, technical skills, personal skills, experience and personal qualities) that we are looking for in a potential job-holder for this vacant position?
- To what degree /standard do the individuals who are on our short list of candidates for the role possess these capabilities as evidenced by their past experience, jobs and wider activities?
- What specific questions should we ask all candidates so that we can be sure we are gathering precise examples and evidence for each of the important job requirements?
- What does the evidence tell us about the individuals readiness/suitability for the job role based on the expressed capabilities, and relative to other candidates under consideration?
One of the single-most repeated errors that job candidates make in interviews is a failure to anticipate what a skilled interviewer might be looking for, and to assemble enough credible evidence or examples that demonstrate prior competence in these areas.
So what does this say about how you should prepare for your interview so that you can be sure of hitting the mark, in providing relevant evidence and examples of the capabilities you possess that match the requirements of the recruiting organisation. These steps will help:
Job Competencies – most organisations when recruiting will provide you with quite a lot of information about what they are looking for in a successful candidate. This will start with the initial recruitment advertisement but then be added to as you move closer to a shortlist by job descriptions, person specifications and general business information about the context and role. The first preparation step is to look at this information carefully and extract what appear to be the main competencies that the organisation is looking for. These are then the things you should focus upon in terms of preparing your evidence and examples:
Your Evidence – against each of the main job competencies, look back at your own experience and achievements and note down hard concrete examples where you have demonstrated this competency. At this stage don't be too worried about how significant each of these examples is – you will refine this later. In gathering this evidence try and ensure:
- The examples are very specific in terms of the time, place and context (and these relate to your timeline on your CV) – the more recent your chosen examples the better. Examples should typically be of distinctive challenging situations and problems so they illustrate how you operate under pressure.
- You describe both the outcome, how this was achieved and (most importantly) what specifically you personally did to make this happen (and of course what others did to contribute working in collaboration). The interviewer is likely to be interested not only in your specific thinking and approach to dealing with situations and problems, but the type of behaviours that you demonstrated.
- Be prepared to include examples where, although you had some setbacks or difficulties, you demonstrated how well you responded, overcame these and used the situations as a source of learning and future improvement.
- Make sure your examples are credible i.e. authentic, believable and specific with measurable outcomes – good interviewers will, by their questioning, typically see through lightweight examples or over-blown stories.
Prioritise: given that the time available to you in interview to provide specific examples might be limited for each area of competency, select down the most powerful and relevant examples on your list that give a clear demonstration of you having applied each required competency. Make sure in each area of competency that you have prepared two or three really good examples, but prioritise these so if time is limited, you can quickly put across your very best examples in each area.
Tell the Story: for each of your chosen and prioritised examples rehearse/practice how you will put these across in a clear, precise, factual and credible manner. If it helps, write down the words and type of language you will use to describe your examples. Make sure that in your narrative you are linking what you have done in the past to your understanding of the specific future and current challenges of the job and business you are looking to join. Find a trusted friend, colleague or partner and practice out loud how you will articulate your specific examples; seek feedback, modify and improve.
The more you have thought through, prepared and practiced describing the most relevant evidence, the more confident and competent you will come across when you are under the intense pressure of scrutiny and questioning in the real interview.
If you need more immediate help, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brosna Career Consulting