Job Interview Tips

Job Interview Tips

Interviews can be nerve-wracking and can often fill candidates with fear and dread. The best way to calm your nerves before an interview is to be well prepared. This means taking time to prepare answers to common interview questions, researching the company, and being well-groomed to present a good image.

Research the Company

If you didn’t research the company before you applied, you had better research them before attending an interview. Whilst it’s not important to be an expert on the company, if you know little or nothing about them, it will reflect poorly on you during the interview. You should know something about the products and services they provide as well as a brief overview of their history.

Advance Preparation

You should also find out in advance where the interviews are taking place and work out a route to get there. Tardiness for an interview will have a strong negative impact on your chances of getting the job. You should aim to arrive around 5 minutes before the interview is scheduled to take place. When you arrive, switch off your mobile phone and take a breath mint to freshen up. You can ask for a glass of water to help clear your throat and steady your nerves. Take a spare copy of your CV.

Be Confident and Enthusiastic

Confidence is one the most important traits to creating a positive impression. Smile, be courteous and address the interviewers by name whenever possible. Always remember, something in your CV or job application impressed the employer enough for them to ask you to attend an interview. This is no small thing considering the volume of applications most employers receive. Therefore, you have already made a positive impression on them. Your task at the interview is to allow the employer to learn more about you and to see if they like your personality. This is hard to do if you clam up with nerves.

Follow-Up To Your Interview

After your interview, write to the employer and thank them for their time in seeing you. This is a courteous thing to do and will also confirm to the employer that you are still interested in the position. Sometimes you might need to check a fact or clarify a point raised during the interview. You can use the follow-up letter to relay this information to them.

How to Handle Tricky Interview Questions

Tricky interview questions are part of every job interview. But they needn’t cause you too many problems if you are prepared. Here are some of the common questions that are often asked at an interview:

Tell Me About Yourself

This is one of the toughest questions for a lot of people. For the most part, the interviewer wants to know a little bit about your career so far and what you aim to achieve, but they also want to know a little bit about what you are like as a person and what other interests you have outside of work. Before you attend an interview, write down approximately ten bullet points that would fall in to this category, then turn that list in to a short description you can easily remember and recite when asked the question. You may need to practice to make your answer sound natural. Remember, preparation is the key to a good interview.

What Are Your Strengths?

It is a good idea to skip the standard cliché answers such as: “I’m a fast learner” or “I am really passionate about what I do”, and focus on specific tasks you are genuinely strong in. It helps if you can embellish the points you raise with examples and try to explain why you are good at something and what your unique approach is. This will help to distinguish you from most of the other applicants and will show you have give careful consideration to your answers.

What Are Your Weaknesses?

There are so many wrong answers to this question. Try to avoid the obvious pitfalls such as: “I find it hard to get out of bed in the morning” or “I drink too much at weekends”. Also avoid answers that make it sound like you are sucking up to the interviewer, such as: “I work too hard” or “I spend too much time working after hours”. The best answers to give are genuine answers, so find an area you are not so strong in and explain how you are working to improve in that areas and highlight any training or self-study you are undertaking. This will show you are keen to improve and will make a good impression.

Do You Have Any Questions About Our Company?

The answer should always be yes. Ask about the company structure, how the company plans to grow, the opportunities for promotion, or what training is provided etc. It is important to show that you are genuinely interested in the company you might be working for.

Where do you expect your career to be in 10 years?

The best way of answering this question is look ahead to possible promotions within the company and explain how you would like to progress from the position you are applying for. State that you would also like to have been trained in relevant disciplines or the undertaken learning required to get you there.

Why did you leave your last job?

If you are currently unemployed, this question will arise. At all costs, avoid the temptation to speak badly of your former employers. The best approach to take with this question is show that you have left to work on progressing with your career and that you take your career seriously and are dedicated to working hard, learning the skills required, and are prepared to make tough decisions to help you progress. If it is true, you could highlight the lack of upward mobility offered by your last employer. If you were fired, it is usually better to tell the truth and explain what you have learned from the experience.

Employees Rights

By law, all workers have a number of rights that have been carefully laid down to ensure that all individuals are treated fairly by their employers. These rights, which have been given by state law in the UK, are called your statutory rights.

While statutory rights form the basis for fair treatment in the workplace, your specific employee rights may vary slightly depending on the type of job you are hired to do and the arrangement you have with your employer along with a few other variables. Your exact rights at work will ultimately be derived from a combination of your statutory rights and your employment contract.

Statutory Rights

These are legal rights that almost every worker is entitled to.

Your statutory rights include:

You must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage, which is currently £6.70 per hour for workers aged 21 or more. For 18 to 21-year-olds the national minimum wage is £5.30 per hour and the rate for 16 to 17-year-olds is £3.87 per hour.

Within two months of starting the job you should receive a written statement clearly stating the basic details and the main terms and conditions of your employment. These would include your job title, expected hours of work, monthly wages, paid holiday and sick leave entitlement, details of any applicable pension scheme, minimum notice period, disciplinary process and procedure for reporting a grievance.

You must receive an itemised payslip that provides a detailed breakdown of your pay and any deductions.

Your employer cannot make illegal deductions from your wages.

You must not be discriminated against in the workplace. This applies to all forms of discrimination including age, disability, sex, race, sexual orientation and religious beliefs.

Under health and safety laws, you have a right to daily and weekly rest breaks. This includes getting a daily rest period of at least 20 minutes if the working day exceeds 6 hours and at least one full day off during every 7 days.

Health and safety laws also state that employers have a statutory duty to take care of the health and safety of their employees by providing a clean environment to work in, first aid equipment, protective clothing, drinking water and washing facilities and ensuring all machinery is safe.

You cannot be forced to work more than an average of 48 hours a week unless you agree to put in additional working hours and confirm this in writing.

You have the right to a certain amount of paid holiday each year. As a full-time employee you are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid leave per year. Part time workers receive pro-rata entitlement.

You have the right to take unpaid time off to undergo additional training, attend trade union activities or to look after dependents in an emergency.

Women are entitled to time off for antenatal care and can take 52 weeks statutory maternity leave.

Eligible employees are entitled to take 1 to 2 weeks paternity leave at or around the period in which the baby is due or is born.

When adopting a child, one of the adoptive parents is entitled to 6 months paid leave and 6 months unpaid leave and the other partner is entitled to paternity leave.

You should not be harassed, victimised, treated unfairly at work or given dismissal notice if you file a complaint or expose suspected wrongdoing in their workplace.

If you have been working for an employer for at least one month, they must give you notice if you are to be dismissed.

If you receive a dismissal notice while you are pregnant or on maternity leave, the notice must be accompanied by a written explanation of the reason.

If you need to attend a disciplinary hearing, you are entitled to have a trade union representative accompany you to the hearing if necessary.

An employer may put you on short-time working or lay you off if there is a downturn in the industry and they do not have any work for you. You will not get paid if you are laid off but will receive part of your regular income if you are on short-time working. In both instances, you may be entitled to a payment called ‘guarantee payment’ from your employer.

Fixed-term workers have the same contractual rights as permanent employees in similar roles.

Part-time workers have the same contractual rights as full-time employees in similar roles. However, entitlements to holidays and similar rights for part-time workers may be calculated on a pro rata basis. There are no specific number of hours that differentiates a part time worker from a full time worker. It would vary from one company to another. Which category you come under will be stated in your contract or job description.

As a general rule, you will gain the above rights as soon as you begin work in a particular company. There are a few exceptions where statutory rights only accrue after you have worked for the employer for a specified period of time.

After 6 months (26 weeks) of working for an employer, you have the right to submit a request for flexible working hours. You are allowed to make one request to work flexibly each year. Flexible working hours could include working flexitime, staggering hours, school hours, home working, working shifts or job sharing. Compressing hours are also allowed wherein you work your total number of agreed hours over a shorter period of time. While employers are not mandated by law to agree to your request, they must give your application serious consideration and have a compelling reason if they decide to turn it down.

After 12 months of working for an employer, you have the right to take unpaid parental leave.

After 24 months of working for an employer, you can claim compensation for unfair dismissal. You can also take paid time off to look for work and claim redundancy pay if you are being made redundant.

Contractual Employee Rights

As a worker, you may have some rights that are set out in the terms and conditions of your employment or your contract, other than those required by law. These are known as contractual employee rights.

The terms of the contract may vary the terms of your employment and may award you additional rights beyond the statutory minimums. For example, an employer may offer maternity and paternity leave at full pay. However, this is not obligatory by law and is at the discretion of the employer.

An important point to note regarding contractual rights is that an employment contract can offer you additional rights but they cannot offer you fewer rights than those offered by statute law. In other words, contracts of employment cannot forcefully restrict your statutory rights. They can only limit your rights with your consent. For example, if you agree, of your own will, to opt-out of the maximum 48-hour working week or you agree to work on Sundays, it overrides your statutory rights regarding these terms.

Once the terms of the employment contract have been agreed upon, your employer must abide by them. If they do not, they could be held liable for breach of contract.

Are All Workers Entitled To Statutory Employment Rights?

No, not all workers are entitled to statutory rights. Only employees who work with a company or individual employer are entitled to statutory employment rights. If you are a freelancer, self-employed or you work for an agency, you are a worker and not an employee and as such you would not be entitled to the same rights as an employee.

However, whether you work as a freelancer or for an agency, you still have the right to receive the minimum wage and the right not to be discriminated against.

Others who may not receive full statutory employment rights include trainee doctors, merchant seamen, police officers and armed forces employees.

Special Note Regarding Disabled Employee Rights

Under the Equality Act 2010, employers cannot discriminate against you at any stage if you are suffering from any type of physical or mental disability. If you are suitably qualified for the job and an employer is aware of your disability, they have a duty to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to ensure you have access to all the facilities as employees who are not disabled so you aren’t serious disadvantaged when doing your job.

Reasonable adjustments may include removing physical barriers that limit your movements, installing an audio-visual alarm for a deaf employee or a ramp for a wheelchair user, providing a special keyboard if you have arthritis or offering additional training opportunities if necessary.