Good news: they want to see you! Now what?
It’s worth remembering that an interview isn’t a one-sided process; it’s a chance for both you and your potential employer to see if the job, environment and employer are suitable for each other.
Every employer conducts their recruitment process differently. Some prefer panel interviews, some prefer single interviews; others prefer the first-second-third interview process. We’ll make sure to brief you so you’re prepared at every stage.
Before the job interview
Put together an ‘information pack’ with some basic company information:
- Google them and look under the News tab – is there any recent information, anything relevant you can refer to?
- Their website and social media profiles
- Facts and figures such as investment information
- Consider calling up for (or downloading) a brochure or annual report
- Research your interviewer(s) on LinkedIn and/or Google – if they’ve done similar work to you then you can weave that into the conversation
Additional information tip: Have a hard copy of your CV ready. It’s useful for your own reference, and if the client hasn’t got a printout you’ll seem extra well-planned and efficient.
About the interview itself: key information you need to know
- Structure is key: will there be any technical, aptitude or psychometric testing?
- Will you be shown around the office, or meet members of the team?
- How long will the interview take?
Interview planning tip: Confirm the exact location of the interview, and plan your route in advance. Allow time for delays, and ask your consultant if they’ve been there before. If not, get them to ask the client for directions.
Preparation for the interview: in the hot seat
Cut down on ‘waffle’ and present yourself in the best possible light. Nerves are normal, but these three tips will keep you articulate and to the point:
- Practice describing 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. Your interviewer(s) will be making notes, so consider taking a notebook too – you may need the prompt, and have additional questions
- Ask your consultant for advice – if they know the client they can give you pointers on the interviewer’s personality, dress code etc.
Standard interview questions – from the employer
- 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 tip: In your answers, try to relate your experience to the attributes that the interviewer is looking for. For example: if they’re looking for team leading experience, make sure that you cover all of the instances when you have been responsible for people.
Three great questions you can ask at the interview
- Can you tell me more about the company, the role and attributes/competencies of the person that they are looking for?
- How closely do you feel my experience matches what you are looking for?
- Do you have any doubts about my background or ability to do the job?
This is your opportunity to show your strong questioning skills, and demonstrate that you fully understand what the interviewer is looking for. Towards the end of the meeting, you can get feedback and counter any reservations the interviewer may have. If you’ve not explained something fully, you have the opportunity to address it there and then.
Take an interview tip from a salesperson: Treat the interview like a sales meeting – fact find, present information, identify reservations, overcome reservations – then close the sale.
On the day: putting your best foot forward at the interview
- Know the dress code and aim to be more formal than your interviewer(s) will be
- Leave as much extra time as possible, so you don’t arrive late and flustered
- Turn your mobile phone off before going into your interview
Body language: be at ease and make a great first impression
- When you meet the interviewer stand up, smile and say hello, and introduce yourself with a firm handshake
- 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 – 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
- Listening skills are important – explain, but don’t talk too much or talk over your interviewer
Closing the interview
The interviewer wants enthusiastic team members on board. End the interview positively by telling the interviewer what you like about the job, and why you feel you are right for them – this is their last impression of you. Make sure it’s a good one!