Interview preparation: the job description
Career counsellor at CV Writers, Michelle Hiseman, advises on the importance of reading the job description before an interview
05 April 2020
A role’s job description is a key tool for preparing for the interview process. It will be used by the recruiter to draft their questions and set the interview strategy. Therefore, you need to do the same.
As soon as you decide to apply for a job, you should remember to download all of the available information about the role onto your computer because the web link could be taken down at any time.
Learning about the role
When applying for a role, avoid skipping past the section marked ‘Introducing the role’ because it often contains useful information about the culture of a company, where the role fits within the organisation and its corporate values.
But be aware that an NHS role will require a different interview preparation approach to one based in a private practice, as would working for a large retail chain versus a small independent.
Tell me about yourself is one of the most frequently asked questions in the interview process and you will need to tailor your answer to the specific role, culture and organisation that you are applying for
Tell me about yourself is one of the most frequently asked questions in the interview process and you will need to tailor your answer to the specific role, culture and organisation that you are applying for.
Look for the implied characteristics and core competencies related to the role that you are applying for and ask yourself ‘how do I do this?’ for every element listed. During this process, you should consider the following:
- Discussing vision-related matters with patients, offering advice and reassurance and referring the patient
- Making the most of all sales opportunities whilst working towards achieving Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Both require the core competency of communication. The first needs the ability to convey complex medical information in an easy to understand format. It also means being able to ask questions to ascertain the necessary information and give advice in a relaxed, calm and friendly manner. The second is more orientated towards customer service and the ability to promote other services and products to achieve KPIs, without giving a ‘hard sell.’
Face up to gaps in your CV, skill set and experience and prepare how you are going to answer questions on them
Ahead of the interview, think of specific examples that demonstrate your abilities. For the first element above, consider customers who were particularly nervous which made the consultation more challenging, and answer how you used your communication skills to resolve the issue.
For the second, find quantifiable information regarding your performance versus set KPIs in your previous role.
Brainstorm the type of questions that you may be asked around each element or competency, such as: ‘Tell me about a time when you had to use your communication skills to reassure a nervous customer’ and ‘In the last 12 months how often have you achieved your targets?’
Also, highlight areas where you might not match the criteria. Face up to gaps in your CV, skill set and experience and prepare how you are going to answer questions on them. Ignore these at your peril.
An additional bonus tip
Know the vision, purpose and values
Most organisations have a statement about their vision, purpose and values on their website. However, these are often not easy to find from their main webpage. In your search engine, key in the organisation’s name plus the word ‘values’ and you should connect directly to the elusive information.
It is not unusual for recruiters to ask questions based around their values, which can include integrity, collaboration, social responsibility and customer focus.
An example of this could be: ‘Have you faced an ethical dilemma at work, and if so, tell me about the situation and how you handled it?’ This question explores your integrity. Or ‘What would you do if you had to work with someone you did not get along with?’ which probes your ability to collaborate.
Always have the vision, purpose and values in the back of your mind when preparing examples and ensure you demonstrate how your values match those of the organisation, across a range of answers.
Before proceeding with the application, ask yourself ‘Do these values match my own?’ If the answer is no, consider applying for another role. A mismatch between values can lead to problems with your wellbeing and performance in the future.
CV Writers offers career counselling and interview coaching, as well as support with CVs, LinkedIn profiles and cover letters. They also provide a free CV review service via their website.