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Values – based interviewing: tips on how to be a winner

by Dr Richard Hawkins, Editor-in-Chief, Caring Times

Interviews for care home jobs can be puzzling because sometimes it isn’t clear what employers are looking for. Do they want someone with impressive technical caring skills or are they looking for someone touchy-feely who their residents will love?

It used to be the technical former but increasingly providers are looking for the caring latter and you will therefore find that your interview is values-based – in other words you will be asked about what values you believe in most passionately rather than what courses you have been on or skills you may have mastered. There is a saying which is often repeated in the care sector ‘You can teach a person technical skills but you can never teach them to care if they don’t already know what that is’.

You might think that you don’t need to prepare for a values-based interview because all you need to do is turn up and tell the interviewers what a lovely, caring person you are and you will be hired immediately. Wrong! Every interview needs preparation and you could mess up a values-based interview just like any interview. As always the more carefully you prepare, the better you will do.

What makes any Interview successful – but particularly a values-based one

Prepare well. Know exactly why you are applying for the job – interviewers hate dithering. Research the organisation you are applying to join. Check out their social media for any recent news. Setting up Google alerts about the organisation can help. Try to understand the wider issues which the organisation may be facing. Practice your answers with a friend if possible, or certainly out loud as answers can sometimes come out sounding weird and will need adjusting.

Try to organise the interview for the morning – interviewers will be fresher and more likely to remember you. Fridays are bad days because interviewers are often distracted.

Give thought to what you are going to wear. I’m a great believer in having ‘lucky’ clothes which you wear for special occasions and which make you feel comfortable and confident.

Turn up on time. You would be amazed how many people have ‘unexpected disasters’ on the way to the interview. Believe me, interviewers will have heard them all – many times – and won’t be impressed.

Be polite to any admin staff before the interview. They could be future colleagues and may feedback any negative impressions on candidates to the interviewers. Sometimes having a chat with them is a pleasant way to pass the time and you may pick up some tips which you can use subsequently during the interview.

Time is short during the interview so you have to make a good impression immediately.

Show yourself to be human, genuine and caring. It is very important that the interviewers think you will be a pleasure to work with and the residents will take to you straightaway. Be prepared with a stock of caring stories and anecdotes in which you have starred. Interviewers love them and may ask you to tell them a story where you felt you had been caring. If not, you can always slip one in where appropriate.. Sometimes casual social banter works but never tell jokes – they almost always fall flat unless you are very skilled.

Use the right language. Mostly this will be words you commonly use with but also try to use some jargon which shows you are comfortable with the topic you are discussing. Never swear and never be rude about anybody, including past employees or colleagues – it could come back to haunt you. Tact, understanding and awareness of others are what the interviewers will be looking for. Try not to argue. If an interviewer clearly does not agree with a point you are making, acknowledge that everybody has a right to their own opinions with a comment like ‘That’ s a very good point’ while continuing with your point. Interviewers don’t like to see you easily blown off course.

Be confident without being arrogant. If a hand is offered shake it firmly. Smile. Make eye contact – without staring – and aim your answers at all your interviewers equally so that they all feel equally important. Be aware that if there is a panel of interviewers there may be some politics going on behind the scenes and you definitely don’t want be piggy-in-the-middle caught between interviewers.

Humility is an attractive human trait so if you don’t know the answer to a question it is best to say so and not try to bluster. On the other hand don’t bring attention to any failings and failures and don’t over-apologise. You want to appear as a positive person who is successful. Keep the focus on your good qualities. Be ready for the famous interview question ‘What is your biggest failing?’ You will have one, of course, but you have learnt to turn it into a positive.

You will often be asked whether you have any questions for the interviewers at the end of the interview. If you do, that’s great, but I would suggest two is the maximum you should ask. If you don’t have a good question don’t ask a silly one just for the sake of it. There is no harm in simply saying that you have none as ‘We seem to have covered all the points’, thanking the interviewers and leaving.

Follow-up the interview with a thank-you email to your contacts in the organisation, letting everyone know it was great meeting the interviewers and looking forward to hearing back soon.

Good luck! If you manage half of the above, you will be fine!

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