Failing to prepare is preparing to fail – a cheesy line, but never more relevant than at interview. To help you get the most from your interview experience, we provide inside tips and tricks to help ensure you sail through your interview and land the perfect job!
In a nutshell
- Prepare; LinkedIn, Google search and press releases - know the product and service!
- First impressions count; from reception to board room
- Know your audience
- Prove your worth with evidence based answers
- Telephone interviews are as vital as face to face ones
- More emphasis on ‘I’ and less on ‘us’!
- Ask the right questions
- Always be closing!
Now let's break it down...
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Do your research on the company in advance to ensure you know what they offer, projects they are involved in, have worked on, or develop. Google, LinkedIn and Twitter are amazing resources for you to gain insight into company culture! Recent press releases and blog articles can provide further insight into the direction of the business and provide easy talking points for interview which will help to highlight your interest and enthusiasm in the role and company.
First Impressions Count
An employer will form a decision on you in the first 30 seconds of meeting so ensure you know what the dress code is for the interview (you can quickly be seen as too stuffy or to casual). Major client bug bears include candidates smoking before an interview, poor personal hygiene and a lack of eye contact. Don't forget you're being assessed from the moment you arrive right up until the minute you leave so don't let your guard down and act professionally at all times.
Know Your Audience
Do some research on the person interviewing you, know their first name so you can address them by it upon meeting. LinkedIn and Twitter should be your first port of call to get a bit of background info, but now is not the time to message them or add them to your personal network. You can also ask your recruiter for advice, as a first port of call with any new clients of ours we get to really understand the business, their strategy and direction, culture and team set up etc. So make the most of this and get all the information you can in advance.
Those All Important Competency Based Questions
From experience we've found that competency based questions are usually favoured by HR professionals and some hiring managers in a lot of the more larger corporates but that's not to say a small start-up won't ask the same. These type of questions can be a tricky obstacle to overcome and with so many options out there, are much harder to prepare for than other more obvious interview questions. With this in mind, make sure you've had a chat with your recruiter about potential questions and do your research. There are widely available example questions and answers online to help you prepare.
Prove Your Worth
With evidenced based answers, you can use past experience to make your statement relevant so that the interviewer can really relate to it. This is a powerful interview technique and when used correctly, ensures the interviewer will leave the meeting with all of the information they need to know that you can do the job. Once again, discuss the tangible affects you have had on previous projects evidencing them as outlined above. A massive failure in many interviews we've seen over the years is the overuse of the term 'we' and not 'I'. Clients are interested in hearing what your specific impact was, not a presumption of what your team did as a whole. We've seen many great candidates fail simply at the overuse of a two letter word.
If you are asked to do a presentation, don't be afraid to ask for a whiteboard and markers, in fact, I would actively recommend you do just that and take a set of pens available as a backup. A great example of this was given to me by the Managing Director of Bristol based UX Agency, Nomensa, who recalled a candidate producing his own board pens and proceeding to write on their walls (thank god for whiteboard paint). Engage with everyone in the presentation and ensure you understand exactly what you are presenting on and try not go off topic.
Telephone Interviews are as vitally important as those which are face to face but are often overlooked in terms of preparation. Clients expect the same level of attention and preparation as any other.
Our top 5 tips for telephone interviews;
- Be ready before the call is expected – find a quiet place (be aware of wind, coffee shop chatter etc.)
- Know the name of the caller – “Hi Mark, thanks for taking the time to give me a call” is a million times more powerful than your standard, "Hello"?
- Have your CV and relevant project experience in front of you for easy reference.
- Know about the company that are calling you – you WILL be asked “what do you know about us?”
- Know what role you are being called about – you WILL be asked “what do you know about the role?”
ABC – Always be closing
“What reservations do you have about my ability to perform in this position?”
It’s a powerful question and one which can potentially make a world of difference. Although it can be nerve-wracking for the candidate walking into what feels like a trap, it's better to address any reservations the employer has on you face to face and turn it around than leave wondering if you should have said something.
A great way to round off the interview and further convey your interest in the role is to ask about next steps. Something along the lines of “What are the next steps in the process, as I’m really interested in the opportunity?” or "I'm really keen, do you know when you'll be making a decision"
So there you have it. Prepare yourself as much as you possibly can using the tips we've outlined above and you'll fly it! All that's left to say is, GOOD LUCK!
If you would like more information advice on how to prepare for an interview or would like support in finding your next permanent or contract role, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on: 0203 397 4565.