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The Job Description & Interview Success

The Job Description & Interview Success

For anyone seeking a new role, understanding a job description is a key element of interview preparation – alongside gathering company information, researching interviewers background, finding out the style of interview, knowing if there will be psychometric tests etc.  Ensuring you have a comprehensive job description from your recruitment consultant or direct from an employer is key to knowing what questions you may be asked should you be lucky enough to secure an interview.


There are two distinct reactions I get from candidates when I discuss job descriptions (JD) with them.   The first is from those who don’t worry about it all.  They may give it a quick glance and try to grasp what the job is about but go on their own way and say what they want to say at the interview, without really focusing their answers.  The second are those who pick the JD apart word for word,  and come to the conclusion that they cant be good for the role as they dont have every piece of experience required.  In both cases, they miss completely how useful a JD can be – it can actually give you most of the questions you are likely to be asked, if you study it correctly.


One tip I give people when preparing for an interview is to turn the job responsibilities / job duties on the JD into questions, and then try to answer those questions.  This makes people think really hard about their own background, and with practice, means they bring to light the most relevant experience they have which matches the JD.  Ordinarily, I run through some examples with the candidate to make it simple to understand.  To show you what I mean, this is taken from a real JD for a Commercial Analyst position I am currently looking to fill.


Job Responsibility on the JD – Work with and influence regional managers and other employees who have an impact on financial performance

Question you could make from this – Tell me how you have influenced / educated regional managers and directors in relation to improving the financial performance of their businesses ?


Job Responsibility on the JD – Ensure site budgets are scrutinised for accuracy, reviewed at Regional level and have approval from the CFO

Question you could make from this – How involved are you in the preparation and review of site and HQ  budgets ?  Who do you interact with to ensure accuracy and sign-off of the budgets ?


The idea is to keep practicing the answers to these questions over and over again.  I recommend this to everyone I meet, simply because by turning the JD duties into questions, you will get to the stage where you can answer the questions really well and with confidence.  It is likely that the interviewer will be the same person who prepared the JD, so when they talk about your relevant experience to the job content, they are going to take their lead from the JD.


By practicising these questions, your responses will become ‘quick off the mark’ and very detailed.   As everyone knows, there is nothing worse than the sound of silence when an interviewer is waiting for you to answer a question !


Another tip that may also be useful relates to the section at the end of JDs headed “Attributes Required” or “Capabilities Required” (or something similar).  You can use these statements to tell them why you think you are the right person for the job.  For the Commercial Analyst position above, the JD mentions they are looking for someone who can embrace change, is results-focused, can develop staff, is a strong influencer / networker.  By repeating these words back and giving the interviewer examples will re-inforce how suitable you are.


Never see the JD as just a list of job duties.  It can actually give you a lot of the questions and answers you will need for an interview if you use the information wisely.


Best Wishes

Leslie Fearn


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