Preparation for any interview is absolutely vital – you need to know the job description and your own CV inside out. Research the company in detail, look at their website to make sure you are aware of any recent press announcements. Use the social media tools available to you. LinkedIn is a particularly useful tool to familiarise yourself with your interviewer's background before you meet with them. As an HR professional, it is important to demonstrate that you are commercially aware, so make sure that you do your research so that you can prepare questions on their latest financial results. Always re- familiarise yourself with your own CV, so you’re prepared to answer questions about any aspect of your job history. Don’t forget the basics – like making sure you know how to get to the interview (don’t rely on sat-nav systems, double check the address before you go).
Handling competency based interviews
Many employers now used competency-based interviewing (CBI) – designed to test whether your past performance demonstrates you match the job criteria. Re-visit the job description and person specification before your interview and ensure that you can comfortably provide an example for each competency. It’s often helpful to go through the job description line by line to prove you can give an example for each element.
Think of your examples in four stages: using the STAR technique, describe the situation, task, the actions you took and the results, which should demonstrate the positive impact this had on the business. Make it as commercial as possible and demonstrate the key deliverables achieved. To score the highest marks, describe what you would have done differently next time. If there are elements of the job that are new to you, think about the core skills involved, and how you might have used these in other ways. HR professionals are frequently expected to be able to demonstrate their business partnering skills, so you should think of examples of when you have influenced people in your organisation to adopt an idea or strategy.
Some employers use psychometric tests at the early stage of the interview process. Whilst you may already be know about these, there are many online practice tests and books to help you practice these and it is certainly worthwhile trying to find out the particular psychometric tools that will be used so that you can familiarise yourself beforehand.
Prepare some questions in advance to ask at the end of the interview that demonstrate that you have done your research are genuinely interested in the organisation. If the interview has followed a strict format, asking questions is a way to get across experience that you may otherwise not be asked about. If it feels appropriate, ask if they have any reservations about your application – this may seem daunting, but could give you the opportunity to overcome these concerns.
Top tips to shape up in your interview
- Preparation is key: from knowing your CV, job description the company to getting there
- Dress to impress – first impressions count, dress smartly and smile.
- Competency based interviews – have examples ready to show how and why you managed to resolve challenging issues
- Stay calm – remember to breathe especially if the interviewer asks a difficult question
- Thank you and goodbye – thank the interviewer for their time and shake hands
For more information and to access the latest HR jobs please visit: www.hays.co.uk/hr