With over 200 interview responses reviewed, it seems like a good time to share our top pieces of feedback and advice.
1. Generic comments
‘I believe I am an excellent team player and can be relied on to work effectively in a team. I actively support the team to achieve the high standards that would be expected within the fire service’
Interviewees include these sorts of generalised comments when the evidence they are presenting (the examples) aren’t doing a good enough job of speaking for themselves. Provide evidence of being an excellent team-player with a clear example of when you have done so. This will show how you support the team without you having to make unsupported statements about it.
2. Unrealistic details
Your interview answers need to ring true. Here are some examples which don’t.
‘You challenge someone on their negative behaviour and they immediately promise to change and thank you for your input’. People don’t generally tend to do that!
‘You resolve a customer complaint by giving everyone free drinks and free email vouchers for their next visit and your boss was happy’. Bosses have bottom lines to think of and vast amounts of freebies may not be well-received!
‘You dealt with a serious issue with potential grave repercussions single-handledly.’ Your role and level of responsibility needs to match the problem you took on. In most jobs there is a hierarchy, and saying that you dealt with an issue which you would not have had the authority to manage will raise alarm bells.
3. Missing the point on team-working
It seems ridiculously easy to get an example about team-working all muddled up so you actually talk much more about problem solving. You can tell if this is happening to you if:
You mention an outcome, like that the team resolved a problem, with no reference to how you helped them achieve that.
You describe positive team beahviours with no link to you, or how your actions encouraged this to happen.
You explain that the team had a great success by detailing the steps they took to deal with the task or issue. You focus on what the specifics of the task, and not how individuals worked together to achieve it.
4. You assume the interviewers have all the same knowledge as you
Its hard to translate your experience, the context and the specifics of a task or role to a layperson. And a lot of interviewees forget to bother!
Assume the interviewer knows nothing about the job or task you are describing. Unless you are already doing the job you are being interviewed for, they probably don’t.
5. You forget to sell yourself
You describe what the situation was, what the problem was, what happened to resolve it. You might even talk about what your involvement it. But you forget to say what made your personal actions so effective, or why you did certain things or which of your many skills you used in this situation. If you don’t spell out all the things that are great about you, with evidence to prove it through your examples and way you behaved, the interviewers simply won’t know.