Job Interview Help

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by Victoria, May 15, 2008.

  1. Victoria

    Victoria Pretzel In Training

    I've managed to land a job interview for a medical lab assistant role, this Monday. I'm desperate to get this job, but I'm absolutely rubbish at job interviews!

    As an example of how rubbish I am:

    Interviewer - "so why did you drop out of college?"
    Me - ".....because I couldn't be bothered to get out of bed :cool:"

    I didn't get that job.

    So what I need is any advice available - good answers to common questions, good questions to ask, etc.

    The person spec is very basic, keyboard skills, communication skills, H&S awareness, flexible, punctual, neat & tidy appearance, sympathetic understanding nature, courteous...

    I have a basic background in science but I've been out of education and working in an office for the last 6-7 years - which I don't doubt they'll ask about.

    Now I don't doubt I 'could' get/do this job, I just need to get through the interview - something I've never managed to pull off due to brutal honesty and "umm...umm...umm...*shrug*" replies to questions.

    I have checked online sites with interview advice, sample questions etc, but I'm none the wiser :(

    If anyone here is tip top at job interviews, any advice would be appreciated!

    PS I have t3h d34dly f1u bug at the moment so trekking around the city for interview advice isn't an option.
  2. prowla

    prowla Valued Member


    You've got an interview, so they must like something about you or they wouldn't waste their time (interviewing is hard work and very tiring!).

    Think about why they want you, what you can bring to the job, can you do the job, where you want it to take you, what relevant experience do you have, and what interests you have that can be seen in a positive light.

    Regarding your office work, perhaps that is relevant - maybe the last person there was rubbish at filing their work and so they couldn't find anything and even had to repeat the work (I don't know, but they've seen your CV, so they know what you've done). Maybe they want someone who knows where the keys are on a computer keyboard, and who can write a document with good presentation of some testing results or something.

    When you are in the interview, remember that they are also deciding whether they think they could work with you as a person (and you them - I once turned a job down because I said I didn't like the person who interviewed me and I would not want to work for them); try to be genuine, courteous, friendly; don't look down refusing to make eye contact, slouch, etc. I've had reports back where interviewers have said they couldn't connect with the interviewee. (when being interviewed, I sometimes make a few jokes, or even swear just to see if the interviewer is too stuffy for me or not.)

    That's just some thoughts, and is entirely my opinion; feel free to pick & choose any bits you want to take on board.

    And good luck!
    Last edited: May 15, 2008
  3. Hiroji

    Hiroji laugh often, love much

    Dress smart, if you can try and gain as much info about the job as you can!

    Prowla has good advice, its always good to come across as genuine and like you have made an effort. good luck!!
  4. Errrm

    Errrm Valued Member

    I've always thought that when you go into a job interview the people interviewing you are also going to be interviewing other people as well, in this case they have probably got an idea already of some general questions that they will ask you and a few specific ones based on your application/CV. What I try to do is work out what they are going to ask me based on my CV and think up some good answers before hand. I also think about the job and what is important for the job i.e. what skills I have that are required, what experience I have etc.. When I'm in the interview I'll try to get these experiences (with examples) and skills into the answers to my questions. If you assume that they only have 5-8 prepared questions and the rest they will ask based on what your answers are then you realise that you need to point them in the correct direction of what they are looking for in you.

    Another point, when I had to do PR training for talking to journalists we were taught how to deal with questions we didn't want to answer i.e. why is the company doing this/why did you leave college? In that situation I would be looking to say something simple to explain that and then move on to explain what you are looking to do in the future, don't dwell on the negative question and turn it into something that you can say that is positive.
    Last edited: May 16, 2008
  5. Su lin

    Su lin Gone away

    Hiya V!

    First of all GOOD LUCK! Second of all, you need to be relaxed and make sure you don't witter. I have interviewed quite a few times now and you always know who will be right for the job, even though you have to jump through the hoops. Basically,well the way we do it anyway,it's all scored and all based on the person spec and "competencies" . Make sure you have read the person spec inside out and been through your experience for each one.

    I am always looking for people being able to apply their experience, even if it wasn't in the workplace. I also look for confidence, not cockiness though and basically someone I think I can work with and manage.

    Be relaxed but there is a fine line between appearing relaxed and then appearing like you really aren't that bothered about the job.

    Good luck with it though :)
  6. Cathain

    Cathain Lily Lau Gar

    the most important thing to do is just talk and keep talking. Sound articulate, even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Look keen and interested. The most important thing is they want to see someone who appears bright and enthusiastic. They have to work with you so they want someone with a nice personality and disposition. If you do this, it's half the battle.

    That's what my father says he looks for when he's interviewing anyway.
    And don't worry, he said some of the people that come in are so bad that simply by turning up sober or without an electronic tag on you, you're probably ahead of 50% of your fellow candidates ;)
  7. Chimpcheng

    Chimpcheng Yup... Giant cow head... Supporter

    I find if I go into an interview and treat it as more of a chat (albeit a little bit more formal) you'll feel a lot more relaxed.

    However, if it's with the NHS it'll likely be a panel interview - I've had three different lab roles in the NHS and all of the interviews were in front of a panel of people - usually an MLSO/BMS, someone from HR and the lab manager.

    Even so just treat it like a chat/conversation and you'll be fine. :)

    If you don't know the answer to something just say that you don't know, don't try to wing it but say that'll you'll find out... ;)
  8. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    I think it's impossible to treat it as a chat. NHS interviews tend to consist of a set of predifined questions to which there is a model answer and you either know it or you don't.

    Having said that, I suspect that 90% of the interviews I've had recently have been cases where there's an internal candidate that they want to give the job to and the purpose of the interview has been to find reasons not to employ you rather than their preferred candidate.

    Yes, I'm exceptionally bitter.
  9. alister

    alister Huh?

    Before you go, think about all the things you've done (work and non-work) and what skills and experience these have given you that are transferrable to the job.

    For example - martial arts....shows dedication and application to a task or a goal, if you teach anyone - communication and coaching skills

    Get the idea - just about anything you've done, work or otherwise has taught you something that you can use in a work setting - just no one ever really takes the time to think about it.

    Bad interviewers always ask questions like "what would you do if...?". My best advice is, regardless of how the question is asked, always give an answer that refers to a time when you have actually done that thing. This is really important as it shows you've actually got the experience rather than just dreaming up what you think is the right answer, which, let's face it, any dummy can do. What you're saying here is "no "ifs", I've actually done it and I can show you that I'm pretty good at it already". The more skilled interviewers will ask questions like "tell me about a time when you....did x, y, z?".

    So, going back to my first response, thinking about all the scenarios you've been in and what these taught you, will give you ready lined up examples - make these examples from as varied areas as you can so you don't appear one-dimensional and don't imagine for a moment that they all have to be work based.

    Good luck.
  10. Chimpcheng

    Chimpcheng Yup... Giant cow head... Supporter

    Not really. I've had three panel interviews with the NHS and I was able to treat it more like a chat rather than an interrogation.

    Sure, there were predefined questions and they asked me how I would improve upon the Hybrid Capture II (HCII) protocol for HPV detection, but even then it was all good. :)

    In one panel interview (for a private company) I spent nearly 30 minutes talking about UFC (MA is listed in my interests and they picked up on it) and in a different panel interview I spend a good 20 mins talking about Street Fighter II... :D

    Not sure about the percentage but you can bet your buttocks that a lot of the jobs will already have an internal candidate lined up.

    My mate works for the police in an administration capacity and he was all set to apply for a higher position when a friend from another department told him not to because the job was already gone.

    Sure enough, the job went to that particular internal applicant but HR still interviewed external and internal applicants. The reason? Apparently it's the law, even if the job has, to all intents and purposes, been given to someone else they still have to advertise the position and interview people... :confused:

    Anyway, just be yourself at the interview, but a slightly "better" yourself... ;)
    Last edited: May 16, 2008
  11. Victoria

    Victoria Pretzel In Training

    Yep, we've had this in Tesco recently. The jobs are gone before they're advertised, but they're obligated to go through the process of interviewing anyway. It has to be seen to be fair, even though it really isn't.

    Thanks for all the replies. I'm now crapping my pants even more :D :yeleyes:

    I've got some answers prepared, no idea what they're going to ask though...
  12. Moi

    Moi Warriors live forever x

    Avoid this method. (May be some language issues, just don't listen to those words)

  13. narcsarge

    narcsarge Masticated Whey

    Good luck there V! My best advice is, as others have said, stay relaxed and remember that you are selling your skills and work ethic. Nobody knows that better then you do. No one will be able to tell an interview board more aboutyou, then you! So relax, you know yourself better then anyone else.

    As for the questions about college: Tell the truth! I have often told employers that I quit college because I wanted to get my foot in the door and that I felt that I had learned all I was going to learn. You can also change that statement to show that you do what you must. "I left my studies because I was living on my own and could not afford to keep paying for the education though I intend to finish my education at some point."

    The interviewers only know what the job is and not you. You know yourself but are not too sure of all the ins and outs of the job. Be prepared to ask questions of the interviewers if they allow it. Learn some things about the company as well so you can understand the "Vision and Mission" statements. Always be ready to let the interviewer know how the company fits into your plans.
  14. Rhea

    Rhea Laser tag = NOT MA... Supporter

    Yep, that sounds familiar.
    But internals have their bad side though, I've been turned down so often to move now, just because my department DO NOT want me to go. And I thought they were sick of me. Oh well, I'm getting out now, and they really can't stop me this time... :D

    Good luck V, hope you do get it. Maybe if you can convey your enthusiasm that this is the job you want, you can make it sound better.
  15. Hiroji

    Hiroji laugh often, love much

    One word answers have always done the trick for me...thats how i manage to stay on job seekers allowance! :D
  16. prowla

    prowla Valued Member

    At my current workplace, they offer the job internally first, and only go external if the position isn't filled.
  17. Rhea

    Rhea Laser tag = NOT MA... Supporter

    Where I am, they offer both at the same time. I'm applying internally again, once in each place, but I've got backing now.
  18. Cathain

    Cathain Lily Lau Gar

    Ouch! That sounds painful! :cry:
    The things we do to climb the ladder.....
  19. Taff

    Taff The Inevitable Hulk

    I agree with this.

    Pretty much *everything* you've done in life can be used in an interview situation if it's called for. You can always find "transferrable skills" in anything, or evidence of your personal qualities, abilities and so on.

    The last interview I had, I needed to convince the panel (of 3) that it was worth taking a risk on me with the inevitable immigration issues that would arise (I'm British and work in New Zealand). So basically I turned everything to my advantage that I could! Such as being able to stick at things, well organised, relatively "worldly" for my age....etc and then find examples in my life where I showed these qualities.
    I think you just have to be careful not to overdo it, you still need to come out as a human (of some description ;) ).
  20. Victoria

    Victoria Pretzel In Training

    Well this flu hasn't cleared yet. If it's not better tomorrow then it's probably best I don't turn up coughing and spluttering in handfuls of tissues :rolleyes:

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