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From the other side of the table…..

Having dealt with candidates for quite a long time, I understand the mistakes that candidates normally commit. From my experience with few candidates who positioned themselves very well right from the beginning of the recruitment process, I suggest that a potential job seeker pays attention to the following:

  1. Resume: This is the first thing that a potential employer gets to read about you. So, please spend weeks on it as if it is the most important project of your life. Please take my word on it. Your CV gets at the most two minutes of the recruiter’s [consultant, business partner, corporate recruiter etc] attention. He decides your future in those two minutes. It is not anymore preferable to have an excellent resume but it is utmost essential bare minimum stuff that you need.
  2. Job Portals: Please remove your profiles from all the Job Portals. There are features in almost all the job portals to get your profile removed. If they do not allow you to remove your profile, you can take them head on. They will oblige. Job Portals are at best good at sending you totally unrelated job postings and they will send them in thousands.
  3. Social Networking Sites: Please make sure your online behaviour is decent. Please do not post some picture of yours that is not good for consumption by a potential employer. Your online activities are getting tracked. Most employers are doing a thorough online background check before calling you for an interview.
  4. Phone etiquette: When you attend a call from a recruiter, please project a pleasing & confident personality and do not come across as an arrogant personality.
  5. Keep up the commitment: If you commit to send your resume within a stipulated time, please keep it up. Please understand that the recruiter can help you get ahead in your career and it is important that he / she carries a good view on you. If you commit to attend an interview – telephonic or face to face, please keep up the schedule. After committing if you have an important work at office or at home, please call the recruiter to inform him / her about your unavailability and ensure that he / she keeps the client informed about your unavailability. Please re-schedule and keep up that schedule.
  6. Interview:
  • Please be on time. Traffic is not an excuse for coming late. Please meet the recruiter at the venue and inform him or her about your arrival. And ensure that he / she does not keep you waiting. This can be done by carrying yourself well and showing your professionalism in your body language. No loose talks.
  • Dress up well. Of-course most companies today do not mind to interview candidates in their shorts and Tees. But the dress communicates something. Please make sure that your dress is in line with your profile. If you are an innovator you can dress up casually but then you are running the risk of being judged as someone who does not care much. We have all read that great innovators [like Steve Jobs] do not bother to fall in line. Please read about the potential employer and their corporate culture. If you are appearing for an interview for the post of User Interface Designer with a funky software product company that believes in results and not the rules, then you can afford to go casual.
  • Technical Interview: The usual question asked is: Please tell us about yourself. This is an opportunity to drive the interview the way you want it. Please make sure that you utilize this opportunity well. The interview should focus on things / areas where you are extremely strong and not on those things that needs improvement. And you should ensure this. It is an art to drive the interview the way you want it.
  • HR Interview: Please do not mince words. Please be clear with your expectations. And let them know the reasons / justifications for those expectations, when asked. Trust me, you will be asked to justify whatever be your expectation – be it 10%, 20%, 30% or more.

This post does not attempt to address all the needs of a prospective job seeker in a single post. I will write a series of posts on this topic. We can delve a bit more into each of the above to understand the nuances of why do Managers recruit some candidates and what qualities they seek. Catch you soon…..

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Competency based Interviewing

On November 26th, 2011, posted in: Interview by

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What is competency based interviewing?

It’s a style of interviewing used so that a candidate can best show how they would demonstrate certain behaviours/skills in the work place; by answering questions about how you have reacted to and dealt with previous work place situations.

By using past experience a potential employer can predict future behaviour by:

Eliminating misunderstandings
Preventing personal impressions
Reducing the candidate’s ability to “fake”

You will be asked to give an example of a situation or task which led you to take a certain course of action. Probing questions will then be used to determine the course of action you took and what changes were created by those actions and the effects of those actions on others.

Traditional job descriptions are now quite out-dated. Most organisations will analyse a role by breaking it down into key competencies. For example the competencies of a lawyer may be planning and organising, innovation, personal drive, problem analysis and decision making. If an organisation uses this type of interviewing, it is very likely that your job will be defined on this basis and your performance in it will be managed through competencies. For example your appraisal may well be linked to evidence and real-life examples of having demonstrated these competencies.

How can I prepare for this type of interview?

The simple answer is you can’t. You can prepare for the interview in the normal way by researching the company, making sure you are able to talk through the work and skills that you have described on your CV. You will be given the opportunity to market yourself for the role in the normal way. However, most candidates will find this type of interviewing much more interactive and enjoyable and it is likely that the interviewer will be able to encourage you to be much more open than in a traditional interview.

How will I be measured?

Usually the interviewer will have a number of pre-planned questions to ask you. For each of these questions they will ask for real-life evidence where you have demonstrated the behaviour or skills. They will know what the desired behaviours are and will look for positive and negative indicators. Examples of competencies and related questions are as follows:

Example one – Planning and Organising competency & definition
Planning & organising: prioritizes; sets stretching but realistic targets and deadlines; plans ahead and has a structured approach to the work

Suggested Questions

Describe a project you have managed/been responsible for:
•    How did you plan your time? (& others time?)
•    How did you deal with obstacles?
Have you ever managed a project which you knew would run over the timescale?
•    What did you do?
•    What could you do differently next time?
•    In your current job, how do you schedule your time and set priorities?
•    How did you prepare for this interview?


Working in a structured and methodical way
Maintaining candidate details
Planning ahead to ensure timely delivery of results
Managing time effectively
Maintaining accurate management information, administrative records etc

Negative Indicators

Works late but unproductively most of the time
Seldom completes a task unless they do all of the work themselves
Reactive approach
Inflexible in modifying plan/priorities
Is easily fazed by obstacles/interruptions

Example two – Team Skills Competency & definition
Team Skills: the ability to work with other people constructively to improve the effectiveness of the team

Suggested Questions

Tell me about a time when you have started a new job
How did you go about building an effective working relationship with your colleagues/team?
What effect did that action have on your success in that position?
What effect did that action have on the success of the team
How do you galvanise your team into action?
When has your own self-motivation rubbed off on others from whom you work?
Describe an occasion when you chose not to work as part of a team
Have you ever had to work in a team where you felt other members of the team were lacking in commitment/ability?
When has a colleague let you down and how did you react?

Desired Bahaviour
Selecting staff who will complement others in the team
Co-operating with others; helping people out when necessary
Building effective teams
Consulting others for advice when necessary
Ensuring that important information is communicated accurately and quickly
Resolving conflict or disagreements quickly and without holding grudges

Negative Indicators
Afraid to confront issues
Insensitive to people, their feelings and needs
Indiscreet and gets involved in gossip
Plays people off against each other
Holds grudges
Withholds information

Example three – Professional knowledge and judgement competency & definition
Professional Knowledge & Judgement: has an extensive knowledge of his/her own field or department; understands the business and uses this to provide credible advice

Suggested Questions

What examples are there during the past 3-6 months where you have made an important decision which turned out to be correct?
Have you made any poor decisions in the past 6 months? Tell me about it/them?
How do you gather information on clients?
•    How have you used that information to influence a client or candidate?
When did a client last ask you for advice (other than regarding a live assignment)?

Desired Bahaviour
Sound understanding of current law
Sound understanding of clients
Managing the flow of information to clients effectively
Providing commercial and practical advice to clients
Providing the client with credible advice

Negative Indicators
Inaccurate understanding of client’s situation
Assumes professional responsibility beyond level of competence/experience
Abdicated decision-making to others
Ignores side issues as irrelevant

Example four – Leadership competency & definition
Leadership: Takes control of situations and events; recognizes and rewards others performance; motivates; coaches and develops others

Suggested Questions

When was the last time you disciplined a member of staff?
•    How did you handle the situation?
•    What was the outcome?
Describe a time when you have set goals for an individual or for your team
•    How did you go about it?
•    Were they achieved?
Tell me about a sensitive or difficult staffing issue you have dealt with
•    What did you find most difficult about it?
•    Why was this so?
•    What was the outcome?

How have you introduced change to your team?
How do you ensure your team gets feedback on its performance?
Describe a situation in which you coached a team member

Desired Behaviour

Giving feedback
Conducting performance appraisals
Developing people on the job
Coaching and training staff
Setting development objectives
Delegating effectively
Confronting difficult management/staff issues promptly
Motivating teams to give their best
Handling disciplinary procedures
Recognizing good performance
Reviewing performance of staff on a regular basis
Conducting effective meetings with team

Negative Indicators
Believes in an autocratic style of leadership
Is insensitive
Demonstrates an inconsistent style of leadership
Tries to change how things are done without any consideration to proven methods and working practices

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