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job interview skills

Job Interview Skills to Ace Your Management Promotion Interview


The simple truth is that people have to succeed in interviews to become managers. The good news is that job interview skills can be learned and practiced.


I have sat on both ends of the table in interviewing. I interviewed myself successfully to become a manager. And I have hired people for positions with people management responsibilities. Therefore I can give a balanced view on the topic.


I am writing this post on job interview skills from the view of a hiring manager to help you understand what goes through the other person's mind when they assess you for an entry-level management position.

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Top Job Interview Skills and Tips for Your Next Big Promotion

job interview tips


1. Bring Your A-Game and Show that You Are Serious

First impressions count. This is especially true when you only have a little time to convince. So make this part of your job interview skills.


My interviews with prospective employees last around 2 hours. Not much time at all. During this time, I look at everything: the clothing, the grooming, and the preparation. I want to see that the candidate takes this interview seriously and puts her best foot forward.


Clean clothing is an absolute must. But I also appreciate it if the person shows up in well-fitting, professional clothing. People need to be able to recognize special situations.


I also appreciate preparedness. My email inbox overflows with CVs and notifications when I am in the hiring process. I can still handle and have your information ready. But I know many managers who don’t and start scrambling through their email. In this case, you can showcase your preparation and hand a crisp copy of your CV to get the interview starting well from the get-go.


Many people think that they can wing an interview. I have interviewed people who winged it. Nonetheless, I can spot with high confidence if someone puts effort into reading the job description and preparing accordingly. Responses to questions come fluently and are to the point. That is what I am looking for.


If people don’t bring their a-game, I already know that it is not likely to see it in their day-to-day work, and it is unlikely that I will offer the job.


2. Tell Me What I Cannot Learn from Your CV

The dreaded question: “Tell me about yourself.”


I ask this question right at the start. And I am surprised that many people talk me through their CVs starting with finishing high-school 20years ago. All focused on academic and job titles.


I want to know about YOU.


I want to know your top-selling points and put you above all the candidates whose CVs meet my technical expertise criteria the same way your’s did.


What kind of personality are you? How do you do your work? What are the qualities which make you succeed?


An excellent way to approach this is to think about your achievements in the past and personality traits that helped you progress and will be of relevance to the advertised position.


Tell me about these with situational evidence.


3. Be Prepared – How to Answer Skill-Based Questions

I assure you that I will be very clear about all key job responsibilities in the job description. There is no unwritten information.


The same is true for the technical skills and personality traits I am looking for in people to conduct the work. They are keyworded in the description. You will find assessment criteria spelled out in the job description, such as “collaborative,” “take the initiative,” and “self-reliant.”


So make it part of your job interview skills to read job descriptions well and use them to prepare for likely questions before the actual interview.


Spend some time with the job description and note down the job responsibilities and all of the parts that relate to personality traits. Then start to think about your job experience and note down projects and achievements which relate to these. You can use this to shape your answers to interview questions and back up your talking with situational evidence from your past.


Get also familiar with behavioral interview questions. These questions are non-technical, and 100% focused on you. Candidates are asked to share examples of specific situations they’ve been in where they had to use particular skills and explain how they resolved the situation. They often start with “Tell me about a time…”.


This is where your previous preparation will come in very handy.


Behavioral interviews have been around for many years. Nonetheless, I often get a “deer in headlights” reaction when I ask questions like “Tell me about a time you failed.”.


This is not a trick question! It acknowledges that we all fail at times. I want to know how you deal with these situations. And this is where I also expect to hear situational examples from your past.


An excellent framework to answer behavioral questions is STARS:

SSituationDescribe the situation you were in.Aim is to provide situational evidence.
TTaskDescribe the tasks you had to handle.Show you concisely describe the scope of your work and identify the essential tasks in the situation.
AActionDescribe the actions you took to address the tasks.Tell how you do your work.
RResultDescribe the outcome of your actionsReflect on your actions and how they influenced the outcome.
SSkillWhat did skills are you developingDemonstrate that you can self-reflection and that you have a continuous improvement mindset.


4. Be on Time

I cannot stress this enough. BE ON TIME!


The person interviewing you, your future boss, will likely be very busy and have to find an interview slot in their busy schedule. If you are late, the interview will be longer than planned, and your future boss needs to reshuffle their schedule.


This is not an excellent way to start a relationship with your new boss.


And to be honest. There is very little excuse for this nowadays. We have all the apps that give us information about locations and routes. And planning extra time to make sure you are on time is a given. If you have to wait 30min on the park bank in front of the office because you are too early, so be it. Take the time for some last-minute rehearsal of your interview preparation.


5. Show Interest

There will always be the point in an interview where you will be asked if you have questions.


This is not the point for asking about benefits and car park arrangements. This can be dealt with by HR in your contract negotiation once the job was offered.


Show some interest and ask meaningful questions about the organization’s structure and culture. Another interesting one is what a regular workday would look like.


I would think about it this way. An interview flows both ways; you interview your future boss too. So use the opportunity for high-quality questioning.

International Association of Women membership
Free work interview preparation for first time manager questions
Career with a View networking event

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