Job Interview

Interview: Fail to plan, plan to fail!

One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation!
This document is tailored to job seekers on the French market and covers interview basics! It is not designed to be exhaustive.

THE BASICS!

  • Be on time! Plan for last minute public transport problems and bad weather.
  • Be the image of your future employer.
  • Be organized! Take a clean copy of your CV and other supporting documentation (written references, diplomas, …). Take notes (you won’t remember everything)!

Did you know? You may have the right, during your notice period, to paid time off for interviews. It is not French law that allows this, but rather your collective bargaining agreement “CBA”. Check your CBA to see if you can attend interviews during your paid working hours.

THE THREE TRUE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS!

All questions are just other ways of asking one of the three questions below. Remember this and questions will become easier to answer.

1. Can you do the job? (Do you have the hard skills?)
2. Will you love the job? (Are you motivated? Will you stay a sufficient amount of time to make our investment in you profitable?)
3. Do I like you? (Do you have the soft skills? Will you fit in? Are we on the same wave length?)

ROUTINE QUESTIONS

  • What are your strong/weak points? If you are uncomfortable describing yourself, we advise you complete some free on-line personality tests. The results will guide you. (soft skills)
  • Why are you leaving your current job? (motivation)
  • Why do you want this job? (motivation)
  • Tell me about yourself? See Elevator Pitches below. 
  • Give an example of how and when you showed such skill. (hard skills)

PROFESSIONAL “BLIPS”

Many of us have career “blips”, experiences we would prefer not to discuss. Nevertheless, we are sometimes obliged to answer uncomfortable questions. Our advice is:

  • Plan your answer,
  • Remain positive,
  • Remember, most often it is not what you say, but how you say it,
  • Ask your Consultant for advice,
  • If all else fails “less said the better”!

ELEVATOR PITCHES

Interviewers with little time may ask you to introduce yourself briefly with the “tell me about yourself” open question. If you haven’t prepared your response, this is where you could ramble! Americans frame the answer to this question in an “elevator pitch”. It helps organise your answer. In a few words (1 or 2 minutes), answer the questions below and you have your pitch! The answer goes around the same three true interview questions.

  • Who are you? (hard skills)
    • Give a few professional details (your hard skills),  I have 20 years experience as (job title) in (x) sector(s), the objective of my job is X (something brief, along these lines);
  • Do I like you? (soft skills)
    • Name your skills. See personality tests, end of year evaluations, think about your skills transferable to this role;
  • Do I like you? Can you do the job?
    • Name your greatest strength, achievement or a compliment you’ve received (inspire yourself from professional references, general feedback or some other outstanding experience),
  • Are you motivated?
    • State what you would like to do and why you would like to do it. Why did you apply for this job?
  • Pitches can be difficult exercises, look at as many Elevator tutorials on YouTube as possible to guide you. There are tutorials for graduates to more experienced people. 
  • As a general rule, try to narrow down open questions. Is there is anything in particular they would like to know?
  • Do not give them your life story. The interviewer is really asking why should we recruit you for this job? What can you offer us?
  • Elevator pitches are supposed to solicit a discussion, an exchange. From your pitch the interviewer will ask for precisions.
  • Be natural, but remember you are in an interview. You don’t have to share everything!
  • Always keep in mind what you can offer a company. How can they benefit by recruiting you? You applied for the job, why?  
  • To answer with ease, write a draft pitch. You can then see what needs adding, adjusting and time yourself speaking at a normal pace. Once perfected learn it by heart.
  • I have done my own pitch, it lasted one minute. Remember it’s not a question of length, it’s a question of quality.

SALARY TALK!

  • Know your salary expectations! HR professionals talk in gross annual salary (including the 13th month). Discuss your package separately. Interviewers take notes, it is complicated to go back on what was said in the initial interview.
  • As a general rule sell yourself first, negotiate afterwards! Salary is important, however, your first interest should be the job! Asking about salary and perks before being invited and putting too much emphasis on them is badly perceived.
  • Ask your Consultant for salary advice.

TWO FINAL POINTS

Planning increases confidence at interview. What is prepared can be used again and again. Leaving an interview knowing you’ve done your best is all you can do. If, despite your efforts, you are unsuccessful, try not to take it personally.

It takes a lot of preparation (references, tests, interviews) to send quality files to clients to increase your chances of success. It’s a shame to waste your interview opportunity by not preparing. Maximise your chances until the very end, it will save you time and your “interview” skills are transferable, the preparation will neither be lost nor wasted!

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