Free Resources: Techniques for Interviewees

Recently there’s been a few requests for material to help interviewees prepare for their interviews.  Bina from @PlainTalkingHR made a request during the weekend of 15-16th January, and Emma from @onatrainagain made a similar request and blog post last weekend.

Naturally, I rallied to the call and sent some material off to both Bina and Emma.  I have been involved in a number of restructures over the years:   interview technique and CV development workshops have always been part of the programme of change.  I delivered my first workshop almost 10 years ago.  And today, Friday 28th January, you’ll find me in Plymouth on my feet delivering a similar workshop.

However, the recent call for material has made me think about how much support there is for interviewees, particularly those who are going for jobs in other organisations – what is there out there for them?

Looking on Amazon Kindle and there’s a wealth of interview tips books.  But having recently read a few of the ones that are for sale for less than £5 (for research purposes only), they don’t tell you anything that you don’t already know:  turn up on time; maintain eye contact etc

A quick flick around the internet, it’s easy to come across lots of video clips on on how not to interview.  And the serious ones are top & tailed by adverts which is just plain annoying.   (If you can get past the adverts, the short clips from Career Concierge are helpful to a job seeker).

There are websites with loads of sample questions: ones that lend themselves to hypothetical or superficial answers.  These aren’t the type of questions I like to ask in interviews.  I prefer questions that look to assess a candidate’s ability to do the job based on past experience and the ability to learn from that.  One website went as far as suggesting what answers candidates should give at interview too!

I found some good stuff too.  There’s a blog called Interview Skills.  If you like what they are writing about, you can then go on to attend one of their interview coaching courses.  I also found a website giving you a trial psychometric test. I  tried it, but had to sign up to get the results.

I thought I’d try out a free e-course.  I’ve done the first “day” and I’m awaiting my next email, which is due “in a few days”.  And I’m not entirely clear how long the e-course is?  Not sure whether this is part of the marketing strategy….but if I was preparing for a  job interview, I wouldn’t have the patience to wait.

One website claimed:

“In fact, a recent survey showed that 9 out of 10 interview candidates failed to prepare properly for their job “

And to be honest, I’m not surprised as there isn’t much information out there (for free) to help job seekers.   From my brief research, I feel there’s little material out there of any real depth……unless you’re prepared to pay for it.  And unless you’re already in a job, can you afford to?


Postscript:  If I’ve missed a goldmine of interview tips, please let me know.


Are ice-breakers naff?

At the start of any training event, it’s likely that the participants will have to engage in an ice-breaker. Many of us (me included) dread it: we don’t want to be embarrassed or made to stand out of the crowd by saying or doing something stupid.

With this in mind, when I’m designing training courses or small workshops, I think long and hard about how to ease the participants into the session.

Last year I read Nancy Kline’s Time to Think, which had a profound impact on me. Subsequently I wrote a book review, which you can read the book review here or here (HSJ).

The reason I only gave Nancy’s book four stars is that, whilst I liked what she was saying  (enough to put some of it into practice) I didn’t truly believe in the magic that she was describing.

Nancy starts every meeting by asking the attendees to do two things:  
a) state one thing that they did last week which made them feel proud of themselves.


b) turning to the person on the left, to say one thing that you really respect them for.

Everybody gets to speak twice before the meeting has even begun.  For the first 10 minutes, every comment made is a positive one. The impact?  There is a dynamic shift in the room. Everybody feels relaxed, upbeat, positive and willing to contribute.

Last week I was working with a team that has had some difficult few years, has just recently has turned the corner and is on the road to recovery.  We started with this ice-breaker, and by the time we finished there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  Not  because they were sad, but because of the overwhelming emotions they were feeling. They all liked each other already, just nobody had expressed it before. And they liked what they heard.

It was magical. Just like Nancy said it would be.

Going back to the start, I believe that on the whole ice-breakers are naff.  Why do trainers and facilitators like to torture us by making participants behave like animals – literally?  And what purpose do these particular interventions serve?

From my point of view, there’s no reason why we can’t strive to find respectful and effective ice-breakers like the one I’ve described above.    Those trainers who don’t just let our industry down.