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Six hints for interview: Pt 1

November 7, 2012

It’s someone’s career

Over the past year I have been fortunate to have been interviewing for a wide range of posts, both locally and nationally.  To be honest I treat each of these seriously – the career of dedicated individuals is at stake, its not something I take lightly, nor those who have been on the panels with me.

This year perhaps more than others I have experienced both ends of the spectrum – those that dazzle and bring a lightness/joy to the process, they leave you feeling that this role they are being interviewed for, will be in safe hands: its a genuine pleasure that you have interviewed these candidates.

However I have also interviewed some others and been left with the question ‘why?’ – why did they come for this job? why did they think they could do this job? why did they perform at interview the way they did?

Two way responsibility

As a panel member, and often the panel chair, it is my responsibility to find the best candidate – neither I nor fellow panel members do this by trying to demonstrate how clever we are.  I have never participated in an interview where the panel were out to ‘trap’ candidates – it helps no-one.  This is important when you consider your response – hints four and five will look at this in more detail.

Twitter hints

Recently I posted a number of ‘hints’ on Twitter and received both open responses and one or two direct messages from others who recognised and connected with what was said.

The topic of this blog expands on those 140 character hints.

When you are given a task – discuss a report or make a presentation you have an open opportunity, on YOUR terms, to impress the panel.  What are the key messages you want the panel to know about your skills and knowledge?  Why then do some candidates think it acceptable or sensible in failing to stick to the task?  Five (or 10) minutes means exactly that – the panel are likely to be sitting through several of these 1) why demonstrate to the panel that you are unable to follow instructions? 2) if the panel chairperson stops you after your alloted time you will not have completed your message – your scoring will be affected and you may have missed some key messages.  Did you actually practice this at home?  Did you ask others to listen?  If not, why not – is the post not important enough for you to make the effort?

Within healthcare it is not only acceptable, it is positively encouraged to go and visit the area you are applying to work in.  I have met on countless occasions nursing, medical, psychology and AHP colleagues who are considering applying for a post in the area.  Visiting the area and speaking to those who are going to interview you, gives you the opportunity to consider if you actually want to work there.

Why then do some candidates still fail to embrace this opportunity?

  • “It was too busy at work for me to get time to visit” – so, if you are too busy to come and find out about something that might very well change your life, what is the message you are sending to the panel?
  • “I tried to contact people” – really? We’ve got telephone (office and mobiles) and email – recruitment teams have contact details for managers.  This is perhaps one of the poorest excuses I’ve heard.
  • “I didn’t know if it was alright to contact people who are on the panel” – I have some sympathy for this, in that we unfortunately give mixed messages to staff.  Let me be absolutely clear – go and speak to everyone you can – getting this post may very well affect your life for some considerable time to come

– make sure you want to work there

– make sure its the job you think it is.

Next week continues an expansion of the six hints originally posted on 5th October, it will look at some basic, but often ignored elements.


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