How to Prepare for an Interview
Remember, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Preparation is essential and greatly enhances your chances of performing well.
Ensure your consultant has provided you with a detailed understanding of the position description, the team environment and the organisation. But your own research is essential.
Start by researching about the brand; its history, its current positioning, its customer, its competitors. Really understand the organisation’s products, services, size, and locations. The more knowledgeable you sound about the business and the marketplace, the more your interviewer will buy into you as a candidate who could add real value to their business.
It sounds obvious, but if you’re interviewing for a specific role, make sure that you’ve read the job spec the whole way through. You need to have thought about how you might be relevant in relation to its requirements. Do you have all the skills and experience required for this role? Be realistic.
In some cases you will not be given a full job spec, if this is the case it could be worth googling similar jobs and having questions ready for when you get to your interview.
If the interview is speculative, then think about how you could personally add value to the business (in what capacity) and be prepared to sell yourself in.
LinkedIn and Facebook are great tools for gaining insight into the people interviewing you. Don’t be scared to have a stalk beforehand; in thinking about your interviewer’s background, you’ll also be able to draw some quite fair conclusions about their skill set and way they approach their role; and again how it might benefit them from having you within their business.
Practice makes perfect
Talking about yourself is something that comes naturally to most. If you find it hard, the best advice we can offer is that it gets easier with practice.
• Spend time reviewing your resume and experience and its relevance to the position. Identify the specific examples in your background that are directly relevant to the job description and demonstrate your ability to do the job.
• One of the first questions your interviewer will probably ask you in some capacity is to tell them about your current role and career path. We always tell our candidates that the best way to do this is to think about your career history as a story, and be prepared to talk about it from start to finish in a clear and concise way. Always mentioning the motivations for each move.
• If you haven’t interviewed for a long time, sometimes it’s useful to write notes down and practice saying it out loud a few times to yourself beforehand. That way you’ll never be caught off guard.
• Remember an interview is really a two way conversation designed to give the interviewee a chance to consider whether the role will be a good fit, for you. The employer will try to determine if you have the qualifications necessary to do the job. But only you must decide whether the company will give you the opportunity for the growth and development you seek.
What questions should I ask?
Asking questions can make all the difference between appearing engaged and disinterested.
If you are ever stuck for questions its worth asking about potential growth strategies of the business, ask how would they describe the workplace culture. Show an interest in your interviewer’s background and asking how they came to join the company. What is the Key to success in this role?
Prepare your Journey
Make sure you know exactly where you’re going and always be on time.
• Know the exact place and time of the interview, the interviewer’s full name and the correct pronunciation of their title. This will help you to minimise stress on the day, it’s always best to plan your journey beforehand and know how you’re going to get there well in advance.
• It sounds obvious, but arriving early will make you feel a whole lot calmer, and allow you to arrive confident and composed.
• At the same time do not arrive too early it’s likely that your interviewer will be informed of your arrival, and might feel under pressure to receive you sooner than arrange. Plus, it makes you seem like you can’t follow instructions.
What to Wear
Keep it simple.
• Dress conservatively and pay attention to all aspects of your dress and grooming. Do not overdo it with too much makeup or Jewellery.
• We recommend dressing to reflect the brand you’re meeting with. Especially if they are looking for somebody who is able to act as a brand ambassador as well as employee.
• Think about who you’re meeting with, and how they might be dressed. It’s always a good idea to look smart, but if you’re meeting with a creative business, you’ll probably be overdressed wearing a typical suit.
• Remember, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression but at the same time there is no point getting yourself in a state of panic, the more prepared you are the calmer you will feel.
• Make sure your phone is switched of and put away. There is nothing more irritating than a phone going off in an interview.
• Take a few deep breaths before you enter the room, and remind yourself that an interview is nothing more than a conversation. Smile and give the interviewer a confident hand shake when they greet you.
• Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright and always look alert and interested. Be a good listener as well as a good talker. Smile!
• Maintain eye contact.
• Follow the interviewer’s leads but try to get them to describe the position and duties early in the interview so you can relate your background and skills to the position.
• Listen to your interviewer and really think about their questions rather than just regurgitating pre-prepared answers. They can tell the difference.
• Be prepared to communicate why this role appeals to you, why you should be considered for this role and what sets you apart from other candidates.
• Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to add your own personality to the interview. The chances are that, if you get the job, your interviewer will be someone who you will interact with on a daily basis, so having a personal connection is just as important as ticking all of the boxes in terms of experience.
• Remember this is your opportunity to sell yourself. No one else is going to do it for you. Make sure you convey your good points factually and sincerely. Make them realise why they need you in their organisation.
• Finally, don’t be shy about expressing how enthusiastic you are about the role. It’s likely that everyone interviewing for the position has the necessary skills and this is your last chance to demonstrate you’re hungrier than the other applicants.
What NOT to do
• Never answer questions with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
• Never lie. Always answer questions truthfully, frankly and as concisely as possible.
• Do not make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers, colleagues or companies.
• Try not to ‘over-answer’ questions. The interviewer may steer the conversation into politics or economics. It is best to answer the questions honestly, saying no more than is necessary.
• Don’t let your discouragement show. If you get the impression the interview is not going well and you have already been rejected, don’t show discouragement or alarm. Occasionally an interviewer who is genuinely interested in you may seem to discourage you in order to test your reaction.
• Most importantly do not ask about salary, bonuses or holidays at the first interview – unless you are positive the employer is interested in hiring you and raises the issue first. However, know your market value and be prepared to specify your required salary or range. Make sure you know what your salary bracket the consultant has put you forward at.
• If they haven’t already covered it, ask your interviewer to provide a timeframe for when they’ll let you know if you’ve passed to the next stage of the interview process. If you’ve had other job offers there’s no harm in mentioning them, though this shouldn’t be done in a way that comes across as manipulative.
• Contact your consultant straight after the interview has taken place with any feedback you may have. They will then send your interviewer a brief, polite email thanking them for their time and restating your interest in the position and with any feedback you may have
• It’s best not to bother your potential employer with phone calls or emails directly especially before the timeframe they have specified. However, if your consultant does not get back to you by that date don’t hesitate to follow up – potential employers are more likely to be impressed by an eager job applicant, provided you don’t go overboard.
• Regardless of the outcome of your interview, your response should always be polite gratitude.
If you did get the job, you’ll want to get off to a good start by letting your new employer know how much you appreciate the faith they’ve shown in you. If you didn’t get the job, you still want to make sure you’re at the top of their minds should another position become available or should the first-choice candidate fall by the wayside.