An interview is an opportunity for an employer and yourself to assess your suitability for each other.
Although it’s possible that you may not be interested in an opportunity once you have met the interviewer it’s important that you perform at your best, to give you the best possible chance of receiving a job offer, in case it’s the job of your dreams. Everyone conducts job interviews differently; however there is general advice and some tips that can be applied to any situation.
Before the job interview
Before any interview you should try to learn more about:
- The organisation by looking at their website and reading news and investment information if available. Consider calling them to ask for a brochure or annual report.
- The interviewer if information is available. Ask the consultant who has arranged the interview and search on Linked-In.
- The structure of the interview, whether there will be any technical, aptitude or psychometric testing, whether you will be shown around their offices and how long the job interview will take. Again, ask your consultant for this information.
- Make sure you know exactly where the interview is being conducted and plan your route in advance, allowing time for delays.
- Take an extra copy of your CV, if the client has forgotten it and you have an extra copy you will look efficient.
- Practice talking through your work history in a logical chronological order, including your reasons for accepting different jobs, your reasons for leaving and career gaps.
- Make a list of the questions that you need to ask and consider taking the list into the interview with you as a prompt.
- Ask your consultant for advice – we are here to help and will be happy to meet you before an interview to help you prepare.
Prepare for standard interview questions such as:
- Why do you want to come to work for us?
- What do you know about this company?
- Why did you choose this career?
- What are your major strengths/weaknesses? (have at least three of each prepared with supporting evidence)
- How was your last review?
- Why do you want to leave your current employer?
- What has been the biggest challenge in your career to date?
- How would your friends/colleagues describe you?
- Where do you see yourself in 2/5/10 years time?
Interview Advice – On the day:
- Always dress formally wearing appropriate business dress.
- Leave extra time for delays before travelling – there is nothing worse that arriving late and being flustered.
Interview Advice – At the Interview:
- Turn your mobile phone off.
- When you meet the interviewer stand up, smile, say hello and introduce yourself with a firm handshake.
- Body language is important. Smile where appropriate and make eye contact. Consider practicing an interview with a friend, relative or your consultant beforehand to see how you come across.
- Avoid negative references to previous employers if possible.
- Tailor your approach to the person interviewing you. For example, if the person is friendly or makes a joke, laugh and be friendly back. If they are being very formal, be friendly but professional. Never swear, even if the interviewer does.
- Don’t take anything that you have been told by your consultant for granted, always ask the interviewer to fully explain everything about the company, the role and attributes/competencies of the person that they are looking for. This will make the interviewer feel that your questioning skills are strong and that you fully understand what they want.
- It’s important that you explain about yourself but listening skills are also very important, don’t talk too much.
- Try to relate your experience to the attributes that the interviewer is looking for (e.g., if they are looking for team leading experience make sure that you cover all of the instances when you have been responsible for people).
- Towards the end of the job interview always try to get feedback to see how closely you match the interviewer’s ideal candidate (e.g., "How closely do you feel my experience matches what you are looking for?" Or more directly "Do you have any doubts about my background or ability to do the job?"). This is really important because it will tell you whether the interviewer has any reservations about you and will give you an opportunity to overcome their reservation(s). Remember, they may have a reservation because you have not explained something fully or because it has not been fully discussed. It would be a shame for you to miss out because of a misunderstanding about your experience.
- Finally, at the end of the meeting if you want the job, end the interview positively by telling the interviewer what you like about it and why you feel you are right for them. Remember that they want to recruit someone that wants to work for them.
- If you are being interviewed for a sales role you MUST demonstrate your sales ability by structuring the interview like a sales meeting: fact find, presentation, identify reservations, overcome reservations, CLOSE!!! Ask for the job!
Books and Resources:
You’ve made it to the interview stage and it’s your chance to shine. But how do you answer those awful questions you’ve been dreading?
Over 400 of the trickiest interview questions.
Advice on exactly what the interviewer wants to hear.
Winning ways to answer awful questions.
The ins and outs of assessment centres and psychometric tests.