Preparing for an interview
Going to a job interview shouldn’t have to be scary. In fact, you should take confidence from the fact that they’ve even asked you to interview. Think how many other applicants you have already beaten at this stage.
You may not be in control of who is interviewing you or what questions they will ask but one thing you ARE in control of is how well you prepare.
Do your homework about the job and the company, memorise your own CV and achievements so you can talk in depth about them and give examples of why you’re such a great candidate.
There should be no reason why you’re not able to project yourself as a confident and competent candidate at interview stage.
Where do I start with my preparation?
Hopefully you have a headstart in your preparation thanks to your beautifully tailored CV. Grab your top 10 achievements sheet, print off the job description and personal specification and a copy of your CV.
Now it's time to play mix and match. Make sure you have at least one achievement to cover as many items on the personal spec as possible.
The interviewers will want to know more about the achievements you've mentioned in your CV. This gives you a chance to talk positively about yourself and also help the interviewers tick off different aspects of the job description in the process.
The interviewers will also want to talk more in depth about the position - make sure you're up to scratch on the company and on the latest developments within the field. This is your area of expertise so you should be able to have conversations about it but here are a few ideas:
- ASA Learn To Swim Pathway and the different stages of the four frameworks, games and activities you like to use, the difference between teaching adults and children or disabled learners, how to control a group, health and safety considerations while teaching, how you would deal with pushy parents, how you would develop specific strokes.
- How would you approach certain challenges in the role that might occur? What would you do if a new pupil joined the group half-way through a term? How would you correct a common stroke mistake such as a screw kick? You should be able to demonstrate an expert knowledge of swimming technique.
- Previous successes, building relationships with swimmers, parents and volunteers, working with schools to attract new members, ensuring club members continue into their teens, different sets, relationships with other coaches and contacts within coaching, professional development and conferences or courses you have attended / would like to attend, working with local schools.
- How many national qualifiers the club has had in recent years, the size of the club, results from recent competitions, the club's website and online offering.
What questions will they ask?
As well as asking you about various parts of your CV, the interviewers will want to delve deeper into your personality and ideas! Some of these questions might be hard to answer but the key is to remain positive at all times.
Tell Me About Yourself.....
This question gets asked a lot. Always prepare an answer for it. Mix in personal and professional qualities and talk about your ambitions and passions. Don't go on for too long though - two minutes is more than enough!
What are your strengths?
Easy question. You know the personal specification by heart and you're about to offer up three of those points in different words. Refer to examples which prove you are strong.
What are your weaknesses / what do you think you will find most challenging?
This question doesn't have to be difficult. Try and be positive about a professional aspect you find challenging and talk about steps you have taken or would like to take to redress it.
What are your goals / where do you see yourself in five years time?
Another classic. Have a think about how you would like your career to progress (at this company!) or how you would like to develop the role. Be passionate and honest about your own aspirations and how you want to develop your own skills - that shouldn't be too hard. If you can't do that, are you sure you should be applying for this role in the first place?
Why did you / do you want to leave your previous job?
Don't get startled by this question, even if your previous job ended acrimoniously. Don't refer to damaged relationships or anything that could reflect badly on you. Instead, talk about the new position in terms of your own career development and your ambitions moving forwards.
How do I approach the interview itself?
It's an important day so treat it as one - have a relaxed evening beforehand, go over your notes and preparation one more time then get an early un-disturbed night of sleep.
If you can, try and arrange for your interview to be mid-morning. This avoids having a whole day to stew over the interview but gives enough time to get to the venue early (don't even risk being late) and go over your preparation one last time.
Dress smartly. After a lot of work on your CV, covering letter and preparation for the interview, you don't want a bad impression to let you down at this stage in the day.
Nerves are completely natural but you should take confidence that you've done everything you can to prepare for the day.
Smile as you meet your interviews and start with some small talk to put yourself at ease.
What if I've been asked to interview over the phone?
Just because your interview is being conducted over the phone, this isn't an excuse to treat it more informally as you would a social call.
It's a good idea to treat the interview as though it is face-to-face. Sit up straight, talk clearly and concisely. Even dress as you would for a normal interview.
Make sure you're in an empty room as well - you don't need any distractions affecting your concentration.
There's no reason why the questions and the nature of the interview won't be the same so prepare using the same tips outlined above.
Make sure you have your CV, the job description and any notes you have laid out in front of you and try and be as enthusiastic and responsive as you can.