Congrats! If you’ve made it this far then the selection panel clearly liked your Cover Letter, was impressed by your CV and felt that you strongly addressed the selection criteria. On paper, you meet their requirements for the job.
Next it’s time for an interview.
There are some definite do’s and don’ts in this situation, so let’s do our best to maximise the things you should be doing to impress, and minimise your chances of making some silly mistakes under pressure.
What is a job interview all about?
The job interview provides an opportunity for the selection panel to get to know you. They will not only want to follow up on the skills and experiences you’ve written about in your application, but also get a feel for how you’ll fit in to the workplace culture of their organisation.
The panel will be weighing up your strengths and weaknesses. You could be the smartest physiotherapist in the world, but if you’re not a team player, or not likely to help the organisation work towards their goals, they won’t take you on.
Conversely, if you have qualities that strongly align with the priorities of the organisation, but maybe lack a few specific technical skills, you might find yourself in with a chance if you can be trained up (it’s easier to do this than change negative personality traits!).
- Know the interview type: is it a panel? One on one? In person or over the phone/video conference? Structured (usual) vs unstructured?
- Put in some prep time: if you’ve never done an interview it takes some work to perform well. Write some answers to questions that are likely to come up, practice saying your prepared answers, and work on improvising answers to some questions you aren’t prepared for.
- Use a friend or family member to practice – it can feel silly, but it could be the difference in the interview room between stumbling over your words and delivering an articulate response
- If you really want this job, then make it obvious! Show your motivation and enthusiasm for the job, how you understand the organisation, and how this position fits in with your longer-term career plans – they should align
- Use heaps of examples – you can expand on what you wrote about in your selection criteria. Don’t worry about trying to think up more examples, just really drive home what you learned from the experience and the outcomes you achieved
- Ask questions about the position – it will help you come across as thoughtful and keen!
- Not being prepared or practiced: it’s is very obvious when this is the case, so don’t try and bluff your way through. How much do you want this job? Prove it to yourself and your potential employer by putting in the hard yards.
- Read the room when it comes to dressing to impress: Don’t rock up in a power suit and stilettos for a clinical new graduate position, and tone down the perfume/cologne
- Placing too much emphasis on weaknesses: You may not be perfect, but don’t discuss your short-comings unless asked about them – and even then, put a positive spin on it!
- Bagging out former employers: never speak ill of your previous boss – it not only looks petty, but leaves your selection panel wondering what you’ll say about them behind their backs.
Remember not to be strictly scripted, but do come prepared…
Question: “Have you ever been in a situation of conflict and how did you resolve it?”
(*Tip: don’t just say no! Even if you’re not a confrontational person, come up with an example of a challenging situation you faced that demonstrates your conflict resolution skills. If you don’t think you’ve ever been in a situation like this then you’re probably lacking a bit of insight and missing something!)
Answer: “A recent example that comes to mind happened only last week while working on the Orthopaedic Ward at Public Hospital. The wife of a gentleman I was treating following a total hip replacement for a fractured neck of femur was concerned that he was not ready to go home and that we were ‘kicking him out’ of hospital too early. I took the time to listen to her specific concerns, discussed the clinical facts, explained my assessment findings highlighting the fact that he was independent with his mobility and using all equipment safely, and emphasised that as full rehabilitation can take months the best place to be recovering is in the comfort of his own home. I discussed the situation with the Occupational Therapist and Social Worker on my multidisciplinary team and thanks to an open face to face discussion with all stakeholders, we ensured that all of the barriers and concerns raised by the patient and his wife were addressed comprehensively, and he was discharged home that day with a follow up outpatient physiotherapy appointment, all of the necessary home equipment, and a package of care for nursing follow up.”
Without a doubt, performing well in interviews is a skill that improves with practice. While you’ll absolutely have some cringe-worthy experiences (that you can hopefully laugh about later!) you’ll eventually work out a style that works for you.
Break a leg!
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