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Get That Job! Give Yourself the Best Chance in an Interview

Updated on December 18, 2017

Most people are aware of the basic essentials for impressing a potential employer in an interview. These include presenting a professional C.V., dressing appropriately, being punctual, maintaining confident eye-contact, etc. Very few however, are aware of how to prepare in order to provide the interviewer with exactly what they are looking for.

These days, most Recruitment Agencies and Human Resource Consultants receive an overwhelming amount of online job applications so before we tell you how to put your best-self forward, let’s remind you why you need to be conscientious with your application.

Assessment of a candidate does not start with the interview. For many jobs it is perfectly possible and indeed sometimes essential to eliminate the majority of applicants without interviewing them at all. This can be done through initial screening techniques and by examining the Application Form. The Application Form is much more valuable than is generally realised and provides a wealth of information about a candidate. Its main purpose is to elicit relevant information to identify candidates who correspond closely to the job criteria. It is essential that you complete it in full. Employers will not excuse sloppiness! An applicant who does not care enough to complete the application form in detail is generally not a good bet to be conscientious on the job.

It is also important to ensure that the information on your C.V., your LinkedIn profile, and your Application Form is consistent, and at the time of application is reflective of the job being applied for. Generic applications are convenient when you are actively job-seeking, but it is wise to take the time to tailor your experience and personal summary/bio to reflect the role you are applying for.

But let’s get to the method that will give you the best chance of getting the job (if you are the most suitable candidate for that position).

The Interview - What Are They Looking For?

Interviewers are looking for information which will tell them about an applicant's qualifications and motivations for the job so that they can match that against the job criteria. During the interview they want to gain information about an applicant's aptitudes, education and experience to determine if he or she has the ABILITY to do the job. They also need to determine if the applicant WILL do the job once hired, by taking a close look at the types of factors that have motivated past performance. Then by combining the applicant's ABILITY to do the job with the applicant's MOTIVATION to do it, the interviewer can more accurately predict future success. The interviewer constantly has three main objectives in mind when conducting an interview, and they are:

1. Is the person suitable?

The main purpose is to assess face-to-face impact and establish whether the candidate meets the selection criteria. Is the person suitable for the job? Is this the kind of job that they would really like to apply themselves to?

2. Do they have an accurate picture of the job?

The applicant should be given a full understanding of what the job entails. It is pointless to gloss over aspects which the interviewer thinks may be unattractive. If in fact they are unattractive to that candidate, it is far better that he or she should withdraw the application for the position rather than discover them later when already employed.

3. Non-discriminatory

Their third objective is to conduct the interview in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.

Past Behaviour Is the Most Reliable Indicator of Future Behaviour

Most recruitment professionals base their strategy on facts and evidence rather than theoretical supposition.The strategy that they use to gather this information will also help you to prepare for, and make a positive impression during the interview.And even if they don’t use this strategy, if you use the following method, you will be able to will give them what they need to make an optimum decision.

Let’s take a look at the BARstrategy, (Background, Action, Result) to enable you to provide adequate and relevant information so that your interviewer can match your knowledge, skills and experience to the job being considered.


The Background provides the framework from within which an interviewer is able to assess the relevance and impact of your behaviour. For example consider the statement, “I managed a team who achieved all targets”. It doesn’t tell you how big the team was or anything at all about the challenge or the targets. It doesn’t explain the nature of the economy at the time or anything else to make the achievement significant. In other words, it is the Background which positions and provides perspective to what you have done.


The Action describes specifically what you did in a given situation. Interviewees often talk about what ‘they’ achieved, for example, “We designed a new quality process”. That does not explain what your role was and what you actually did. The interviewer is looking for specific behaviours which will give an indication of how you will most probably behave in the future.


The Result describes the outcome of your particular action. This is what they are looking for. They need to know what was achieved due to your specific action in those circumstances.

How to Prepare for That Interview

Consider the questions you know they could be asking you. If it is a sales position you know they will probably be asking you questions about your sales ability, negotiation skills, sales results, customer service, product knowledge, ability to work under pressure, knowledge of the market-place, etc. So take each of these areas and prepare BARs for them. For example, under the heading of Customer Service, think back to a few occasions when you provided excellent Customer Service and list a few BARs. For example:

Background: A customer, who had been buying from us for a number of years, had four of his orders delivered late and as a result did not want to buy from us in the future.

Action: As soon as I heard about this, I went to see him and explained how sorry I was for the poor service that he had received. I explained that I would really like to understand his delivery requirements to see if I could find a way of meeting his needs. During the discussion I listened attentively and responded with empathy by saying things like, ”That must have been frustrating,” until he finally felt understood. When I asked him if he had any ideas as to how we could meet his needs in the future, he suggested that he be able to email his order at the beginning of each week. I agreed that I would check my emails each Monday morning and process his orders immediately. I gave him my private number as well for reassurance.

Result: Over the past year he has always received his orders on time and as a result has spent twice as much as he did the previous year. I have also gained two new clients as a result of his recommendations since then.

Once you have prepared numerous BARs for each of the potential areas that they are likely to ask, you need to learn them. And when the time for the interview arrives, you need to relax and weave the information into your natural style so that they get a sense of who you are, what you have done, how you have done it, what you have achieved, and how closely you fit the requirements for the job at hand. This method of preparation will also enable you to measure the job against your own preferences.


Skilled interviewers have many methods to determine how truthful your answers are. They will ask questions in a number of ways to check consistency and will also follow-up with questions to understand the reasons and motivation behind your answers. You will look foolish and have no chance of getting the job if your answers have not been factual.

We spend most of our time at work and it affects our lives in many ways.It makes sense to invest the time and effort into ensuring that the interviewer sees you in the best possible light and that you gain enough information to determine whether the job will meet your personal needs and enable you to reach your potential.


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