Job Seeking Advice

How to use the job spec in an interview to confidently answer employers

Let’s face it, interviews can be incredibly nerve-racking. There’s a lot to consider; making a great first impression, listening to the interviewer’s questions, and putting your best foot forward.

So, what if we told you of a little tip that could help reduce some of those nerves and give you plenty of direction on how to answer the questions posed to you in the interview?

Drum roll, please. It’s the job spec. Specifically, using it to practise your answers and align them to what the employer is going to want to hear about.

An employer has taken the time to create a detailed description of the role, so we’re going to show you how to squeeze every last drop of information from it.

Why Aren’t You Using the Job Description in Interviews?

A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that a job specification is something to browse when you are trying to decide if a job is the right one for you, but there’s actually a lot more to it than that.

You can use the job spec throughout the interview process, from the moment you greet the interviewer to the moment you answer your final question.

Of course, this doesn’t mean clutching the job spec and referring back to it. But it does hold the key to a number of examples the employer is expecting you to talk about and demonstrate.

4 Ways to Successfully Use the Job Spec in Interviews

1 - Create and Practise Mock Interview Questions

One of the simplest ways to use the job spec in interviews is to create practice questions and come up with perfect answers. Though it’s impossible to know exactly what questions you will be asked in an interview, creating mock questions can help you to get a feel for what’s likely to come up.

Plus, having ‘stock’ answers that you can tailor accordingly is helpful should you find yourself stumped. For example, if the job specification highlights that the ideal candidate will need to be able to work in a team and independently, come up with answers for some relevant questions. These could include talking about a time you worked well independently and discussing how you contributed to a recent team project.

2 - Think of Examples for Each Desired Characteristic

On a job spec, you will usually find a list of desirable characteristics; these are the traits that the ideal candidate should have. It’s likely that you will be asked whether you possess these in the interview, so have some examples ready to go.

Go through the job specification and pick out the characteristics that you have, and then think of an anecdote that showcases how you put them to good use. Instead of thinking of an example for each, think of stories that cover more than one characteristic at once. For example, you might have an example that showcases you as being both a confident and self-motivated individual.

3 - Have a Handful of Questions to Ask the Interviewer

At the end of most interviews, you will be given the chance to ask the interviewer any questions. It’s a good idea to have some to hand, as these show that you are interested in the role and keen to find out as much as possible.

As the job spec won’t cover everything in detail, look for anything that’s somewhat vague or unclear. Some of the easiest questions to ask are those that require the interviewer to expand on something found in the specification. This shows that you were thoughtful enough to read the description and the requirements for the role beforehand.

4 - Identify Your Personal Weaknesses

It’s unlikely that you will meet all of the criteria for a role, but this doesn’t mean that you aren’t a candidate worth considering. Instead of being disheartened, use the job spec in interviews by being aware of the skills that you are lacking and knowing what your weaknesses are beforehand.

Then, if the interviewer asks about the specific skill, you can confidently explain that it’s a weak spot that you are working hard to improve upon. If it’s a subject area that you aren’t knowledgeable about, using the job spec before an interview gives you time to read up and educate yourself on the ‘need to know’ information. Though you won’t become an expert overnight, you will have at least a basic understanding of what’s being asked of you.

Set Yourself Up for Interview Success

At Moxie, we pride ourselves on helping our candidates get into their ideal job in housing as much as possible at the interview stage of their job search.

We are there to guide you through each step, providing advice and guidance along the way. If you are thinking about switching careers, get in touch with our friendly team today.