Great news, you’ve prepared a winning CV, spent weeks scrolling, searching and registering in the alternate and surreal universe known as on-line job boards, met with 20 recruitment agencies and applied for literally hundreds of jobs. Finally you’ve secured an interview and after the initial elation thought ‘Oh no, a dreaded interview……!’
The following are a few simple tips and hints to help you, not exhaustive but worth considering:
It is vital that you know who you are going to see, what they do, their successes and what makes them tick as an organisation. Check them out, use Linkedin and the internet. Get a view of the type of people who work there, what their backgrounds are and general information. Make sure you look at groups they are in, what discussions they contribute to, get to know them before the interview. You may even be able to find out what football team they support! All of this information can make a difference, and interviewers will expect you to be prepared.
Read the job description, make notes and compare your experience, qualifications and skills against it. Make notes of relevant challenges, projects and responsibilities which match from your previous employment and occasions when you have demonstrated these abilities. In some cases such as public sector (Councils for example) ask them if there is an Employee Specification document (this is different from a job description), this will enable you to match and compare your skills and experience effectively and accurately.
Ask what kind of interview it will be, is it going to be a panel interview, will there be tests, will it be competency based, what documentation or information will they require on the day. Know before you get there what to expect. If you are being assisted by a recruiter, ask them what other candidates have experience, ask them if they have an hour spare to do some role play with you. Remember it is as much in the Recruiters interests for you to do well as it is your own. So make them go that extra yard, get them involved. I absolutely love preparing candidates for interview, especially when they blow my client away.
Prepare Questions in Advance
Nothing makes an interviewer cringe more than a prospective employee who doesn’t have some great questions. Forget about asking how many smoke breaks there are, or about sickness and holidays. Ask about career progression, the company’s future strategy and growth. Ask the interviewer why they work there, what is the one thing that makes it such a great place to work?
A real crowd pleaser in an interview is when you structure questions around some very recent or major press release or business / sector development. If for example they have recently acquired a business, ask them what drove that acquisition, what the short and long term impact in terms of revenue and turnover is going to be and how that will enhance the companies competitive edge. I once had a candidate interviewed for a role as a Business Analyst and the guy interviewing him didn’t know that the company had just acquired a major competitor until my candidate asked them a question about it. Brilliant, they got the job.
It might sound obvious, but make sure you know exactly where the location is. Check timings for getting there in good time. If using public transport make sure that you have enough time in case of delays. It is great to arrive 10 minutes early but avoid turning up too early. Use a sat-nav if you have one, even check the route out the day before, make sure you know if there is a parking space or not.
Remember, it is you that wants a job! Dress appropriately for the environment, check with them if necessary and ask if it is business attire or smart casual and adapt accordingly. Be aware that many organisations will frown upon things that you may consider acceptable, not every workplace will admire your multiple piercings and the tattoos modelled on Angeline Jolie, no matter how fabulous your friends think they are.
You got there on time, you look like a million dollars, your research was exhaustive, you know your interviewer supports Manchester United (someone has to) and you’ve even researched where they are in the league and now you are nothing but a shaking, trembling bag of nerves! Seriously though, if you’ve prepared you should feel great! Remember to smile, lots!
Interviews should be two way. Of course the interviewer wants to ascertain if you have the right skills, personality and experience for their organisation. But equally, they should present their company, the culture and successes to sell the opportunity to you.
Listen carefully to the questions and answer honestly and succinctly using examples from your past experience. When you have finished confirm that your answer is informative enough. If you don’t understand a question, maybe because of terminology then be honest and ask them to repeat it or phrase it in another way. Avoid negatives at all cost, focus on positive examples and experiences.
Remember, body language is important, but don’t make the mistake of getting too carried away with it. Mimicking yiour interviewer might sound great at some job seeker workshop, if you get it wrong they could take offence. People buy people like them, but nobody likes to be made a fool of. Smile, sit up straight and don’t fidget or fiddle, even Chief Executives can be uncomfortable in an interview. Remember that your interviewer is probably as uncomfortable with the whole situation as you. So relax, enjoy the experience and you’ll notice that it should just flow.
Finally remember to ask your questions when given the opportunity. But most importantly at the end ask them how they thought it went? Ask them if there is any additional information they need? Ask them what the next stage is and how long it will be before you hear from them. Close the interview professionally and confidently and let them know that you are interested.
Good luck and happy job hunting!