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Interview help.. business support officer

(5 Posts)
emmalt85 Tue 23-Jun-20 20:40:51

Hi, I have an interview next week for my dream role of working within an office in a nursery school. I have been a stay at home mum for 2 years. I was a senior payroll officer in my previous role, I had worked there for 12 years and been in that particular role for 11 years. I had 2 members of staff who i managed on a daily basis.

I know I am capable of the role but I am really nervous to say the least as it has been so long since I have had an interview. I am not the best when having to 'sell' myself and I am worrying myself stupid.

Can anyone advise me on what interview questions I am likely to be asked? And good answers I can possibly respond with 😊 thank you

OP’s posts: |
maxelly Wed 24-Jun-20 16:16:14

Don't worry, it's normal to be nervous, but I think the very best advice I have been given about interviews is to remember that the panel already believe you can do the job (or they wouldn't be interviewing you), so your job is to convince them you are the person they want to work with. To that end coming across (as far as possible, I know it's hard in such an artificial situation) as enthusiastic, motivated, personable, i.e. the kind of person they want to work with, is at least as important, if not more so, than giving them the 'hard sell' of how brilliant you are. Someone can have all the qualifications, experience in the world but if they are an arsehole no-one wants to hire them!

Make sure you have nice open body language, sit up straight, don't hunch, try not to 'fiddle' too much with your hands/hair etc., smile and make eye contact with the interviewers. Don't forget to breath and it's fine to take a pause before answering questions to think of your answer rather than immediately launching into verbal diarrhoea!

I would prepare for some generic interview questions about yourself, your previous jobs and experience, strengths and weaknesses and why you want the job (for the last one the convention is to talk about what a good fit the job is for your skills/experience, what a great company it would be to work for etc. rather than what may be the strictly accurate truth that the hours/salary/conditions are better for you than where you are now). I would also go through the advert/job description and highlight the qualities/competence/experience/skills they have said they are looking for and prepare examples of where you have demonstrated those in previous roles in a 'competency'/STAR format for each one. They may not ask the questions in a strictly competency format, they may ask more generally 'tell us about your management experience' for example rather than 'tell us about a time you have managed a team' but either way you should always try to answer with concrete, structured evidence and examples rather than vague/waffley/hypothetical answers. So you would say 'when I worked at ABC company I managed a team of 2 people with a target of XYZ. My approach to ensuring they performed well and met the target was to set clear goals and objectives and to ensure regular supervision meetings to monitor progress and resolve issues. The result was that my team was the highest performing in the company and we won a 'highly commended' at the staff awards" or similar. Rather than 'I have done lots of management in the past, I think I am a good line manager. I like to make sure my team perform well and I don't micromanage them' or similar which doesn't really tell the interviewer much about what you have actually done...

For a business support officer the kind of examples I would expect you to need are around: team working, organisation/prioritisation of different tasks/managing your own workload, team working, managing difficult customers/difficult relationships, communication, attention to detail, maybe basic project management. Also line management and/or budget/cash/payroll management if that is part of the role.

Finally make sure you think of some good questions to ask them at the end. Ideally these wouldn't be about the salary/hours/whether you can have a staff parking space or similar (even if that is what you really want to know!) as that can make it seem as though you aren't really interested in the job itself. It's better to ask about the job, the team, the company, developments in the industry, what opportunities there might be for development etc.

Good luck!

Callybrid Wed 24-Jun-20 17:17:21

@maxelly - thank you for taking the time to write all that; very useful summary for another jobseeker here

@emmalt85 Good Luck for the interview! I recently went for something a little similar, and also trying to get back into work after time SAHP-ing and the feedback I got on the interview echoed a lot of what maxelly said above - needed to really describe why I would be good at the job more, particularly describing what I personally had done, instead of about what I had done as part of a team etc. They also commented on how nervous I appeared even though I didn’t feel at all nervous so may be worth getting someone to film you doing a few practice questions to see if you have any strange hair fiddling/throat clearing/mumbling etc habits that might come across as nervousness/lack of confidence.

emmalt85 Sun 28-Jun-20 11:07:28

@maxelly thank you for your reply. Some very good points you mentioned.

@callybrid thank you... did you get the job you applied for?

I am still nervous and I feel I'm just gonna stutter and fail giving good answers.. due to corona I have to do it via zoom.. Not sure if that's better or worse. I hate being on camera 😭

What questions should I ask if they ask me if I have any questions? Any ideas which are good to ask?

OP’s posts: |
maxelly Mon 29-Jun-20 15:22:47

Well i think the questions do have to be genuine/something you are interested in the answer to, rather than just reading off a list of 'good' questions. But in general good 'themes' to ask questions about are:

-About the role - obviously don't ask questions which are answered in the job description or advert, or which make it seem like you don't understand what the job actually is grin but you can ask for more detail, e.g. if the job description says the post manages a team, you can ask how many people, what level etc. A good one which can be quite revealing is to ask why the role has become vacant - reveals if it's a new post or if the previous occupant has recently been promoted (which tells you the company is supportive of development etc).

-About the wider department/team/customers. It's good to establish what kinds of people you'd be working with, so I quite often ask about how relevant teams/departments are structured, what the relationships are like etc. If it's a job which has 'customers'/'clients' I would ask who they are, their needs/priorities etc.

-About the company/industry. It can be good (and also a way of demonstrating you've done your research) to ask about how different issues (e.g. Covid, Brexit, any recent political or legislation changes) affect the business. If it's a big corporate you can ask about their company values/mission statement etc although if it's a small local business you may get this face confused hmm so know your audience!

-About future opportunities. Sometimes I ask about training opportunities, career development/promotion routes, any other career benefits the company offers such as opportunity to attend conferences or other external events. This can make you come across as ambitious and keen to progress, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on the role/company/preference of the interviewer so I am always a bit hesitant here, I'd play it by ear asking this kind of question! Certainly I'd save any salary negotiations or other 'requests' for after I'd been offered the role!

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