The moon – Preparing to ace your interview (part 3)

November 17, 2021

Welcome back to our series on preparing to ace your interview.

It’s your giant leap, only you can take it

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Without doubt, one of the most famous statement in human history. Neil Armstrong spoke these words at 10:56pm EDT on the July 11, 1969 after he stepped off the ladder of the Eagle lunar lander module onto the surface of the moon.

So how significant is Armstrong’s first step onto the lunar surface over 52 years ago for you? A monumental amount, actually!

Never forget, it will serve you well

This series of posts started with how to prepare your CV. The ethos of all posts in this series is simple. “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” Living by this ethos will serve you valiantly your entire life. Besides being one of the most defining things in history, preparation is what the moon landing has to do with you. So, if you’re not convinced by the statement, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” and you think you can “wing it” maybe the preparation of the journey to the moon will convince you otherwise.

What is the reason we prepare for anything? To overcome foreseen and unforeseen challenges.

John F Kennedy announced to the US congress on May 25, 1961 “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” 

At the time of President Kennedy’s speech only a single American astronaut, Alan Shepard had entered space. Attempting to land a man on the moon before 1970 was like expecting a blindfolded person to drive a car for the first time without crashing.

The first and most famous bet that NASA would succeed was placed in 1964 in London. David Threlfall placed his £10 bet that NASA would succeed at odds of 1 to 1000. So sure the bookies were that NASA would fail.

Being bold is the same as being prepared

The Saturn V rocket built to take the astronauts to the moon was 33 stories high, with enough fuel to match the force of a small nuclear bomb should it explode. Strapping 3 humans to it and sending them 382,500km to the moon was just one of a list of tens of thousands of challenges NASA faced in 1961. The list grew by thousands every week from the beginning of the project to the moment the return capsule landed in the Pacific Ocean after the Apollo 11 mission.

The difference between you and NASA in 1961? Hundreds of millions have taken the same journey that you’re on right now. Advantage you! You should know exactly what to expect and also what’s required for success. Properly prepared, you can face any question confidently.

NASA on the other hand had only a tiny amount of data to help them. NASA used the predictions of thousands of scientists, mathematicians, engineers and pilots, a team of 400,000 people in all. To quote Star Trek, “To boldly go where no man has gone before”. So, how did NASA overcome tens of thousands of challenges to get three men to the moon and back alive? Preparation, preparation, preparation, and more preparation.

The questions are common, you’re unique! 

The point of an interview is to establish your ability to learn quickly, follow rules and processes and make better decisions than other people applying for the position. They also want to know if you will fit into their corporate ethos and that you’re aligned with their corporate principles.

Remember, it’s your ability to succeed despite challenges that has created your value. That value is what the interviewer will access (see our blog post on establishing your value). To access all candidates equally, they ask every candidate a general set of questions. It’s the way you answer these that will teleport you to the front of the race or leave you languishing in the back.

The interviewer will almost certainly ask these questions in some form:

  1. Tell me about yourself?
  2. Why should we hire you?
  3. What do you know about the company?
  4. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  5. What are your short and long-term goals?

The people involved in the hiring process will have formed an opinion of you from your CV, cover letter and social media profiles. They form their opinions in relation to the job requirements. These may include:

  • Your ability to manage time effectively
  • Your ability to multitask
  • Your ability to handle and thrive in stressful situations
  • Your ability to work to tight deadlines
  • Your ability to communicate effectively with colleagues and clients
  • Whether you’re a self-starter and take initiative
  • Whether you’re a leader or someone who is more comfortable being led
  • Whether you function better independently or as part of a team
  • Your ability to learn quickly
  • Your ability to get colleagues to take you into their confidence

Make a list of the attributes the employer requested in the job posting. An example may be working in stressful situations to achieve deadlines. This is a vital skill for journalists, lawyers, production managers, project managers, auditors, among others.

They determined from your CV that you have this skill and want to gauge from you whether they were correct. The responsibility is yours to back up their perception by illustrating examples.

Staying with the concept of working in stressful situations to achieve deadlines. You could show this ability by telling them how you structured your day, so you could complete other activities and responsibilities and still achieve high marks. This shows a propensity to manage time, remain focused under stress and still get the job done.

When preparing for these questions, revert to the job specification and requirements. Compare the specifications and requirements and how you structured your CV to match these. This will provide clarity on how they matched your abilities to their requirements and give you a beginning for your preparation.

The links below contain posts on how to address these and other pertinent questions and we suggest you read them and others while preparing for your interview.

It’s only the beginning

They say “All good things must come to an end” While this chapter of your life is coming to an end, a new, exciting and good one begins. While we at The Fields will be a little sad to see our graduates go, we savour the part we played in your journey to become the citizens and leaders to take South Africa forward and make it a better place for us all.

While you have learnt in your lecture halls we always learn from your humanity, struggle and perseverance. What we’ve learnt and the relationships we have formed with all of you, help us to approach everyday with vigour and give us hope in the future. Thank you for choosing The Fields as your home in Pretoria, please tell fellow students and students on their way to start their journey about us, and to contact us so we can provide them with an atmosphere where they too can flourish and follow in your steps. Good luck with your interview, we know you’re going to ace it.

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