The best way to prepare for interview is to well, prepare! To help you avoid any awkward scenarios or worse still miss out on the chance of landing that dream role, our Managing Director, Nathan Connolly shares the most common bugbears amongst interviewers and how to avoid them.
1. PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Sadly we know of far too many people who on the morning of an interview plug a postcode into the sat nav or head for the nearest station and set off! This is an ideal time to utilise your recruitment consultant who will have almost certainly have been to the client's offices and know the pinch points! Most recruitment consultants believe they’re used for about 50% of what they could actually help with, so make the most of it and ask!
2. ARRIVE WITH TIME TO SPARE, BUT NOT TOO MUCH!
Aim to arrive at least ten mins before your interview. Too early and you are about to have the uncomfortable wait in reception and being late is quite frankly, unacceptable. Hiring managers (and receptionists) we've spoken to over the years tell us that being overl early (20mins+) indicates as much a lack of planning as being late and can potentially put pressure on the interviewer to move the start time up!
3. KNOW THE DRESS CODE
Dress code varies greatly from company to company, industry to industry and in recent years we’ve seen a number of both client and agency side organisations completely change their dress code rules; it’s never been easier to get the dress-code wrong! So how do you know what's right to wear? Chat to your recruitment consultant or HR officer to get the low-down on what's what to avoid a potential uncomfortable first few minutes in interview!
4. PREPARATION & THE 7 P's
Failing to prepare is preparing to fail! 90% of the interviews we’ve had feedback on have included the most basic question, "what do you know about the company?" or "what do you like about our products or services?" Yet still we are amazed at how many people fail to provide a worthy, substantial answer. You’ve used half or worse still a whole day of your precious holiday and arrived prepped on your CV or portfolio, so why fall short on the single most important topic, why you want to work for them?! Make sure you’ve done your homework on the company, its offering and history so you are fully equipped to answer this all important question.
5. RE-READ YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY
As part of your interview preparation, remind yourself of any thing you said you were involved in on your application and spend time recapping. Hiring managers are the masters of picking something from a project you were involved in maybe three, four or five years ago and will expect you to recite your involvement, so make sure you are prepared and can discuss it in detail.
6. BIG YOURSELF UP
This is officially the number one bug-bear from recruiters and interviewers. "we" did this or "we" achieved that is great when providing examples of team work, but if you are not using the magic word (I), then you’re not selling yourself as well as you could be! It’s a simple one to get wrong so be sure to know what you personally contributed and be able to talk about it.
7. EVIDENCE YOUR ANSWERS
Often we’ve found interviewers continuing to dig further and further to really get to the root of what was accomplished by the candidate in past roles and projects. If you’re continually answering questions vaguely without pinpointing specific examples, it's difficult for an interviewer to have much confidence in you as a potential employee of their business.
8. DON'T SLATE THINGS
Unless as part of your interview you’ve been asked to critique a product, app or service, now is not the time to go all in about what you dislike! We have known some of the best matches on paper for both parties fall out in the first 10 minutes, where everything from Trustpilot to Glassdoor has been questioned! The caveat here is that if you want to ask around product & feature updates or general company queries, then by all means utilise the Q&A following the interview.
9. COME ARMED WITH QUESTIONS
"No I think you have answered them all" is so far from the answer the interviewer is looking for and you run the risk of undoing all of the hard work you've put in for the last hour or so! Even if it's only to summarise previously asked questions or to reconfirm the answers then that works. The wost thing you can do is say nothing. The majority of our clients say that if at this stage you are not referring back to notes or questions from your phone, iPad etc. then it is a clear indication of lack of planning! Take a look at our list of potential questions for more info.
10. ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME & THEN SOME
How long do you think an interview should take? Are you sure? Out of the thousands of interviews i've been a part of over the years, clock watching from either side of the table is without a doubt my personal pet hate and a surefire way to put potential employers off in an instant. Your recruiter should know how long a meeting is scheduled for so you can get an idea of how long you need to account for before hand. Every so often though interviews can over run, in these instances, indicating that you need to leave and exploring the opportuniy to reconvene is certainly not an issue.
11. CALL YOUR CONSULTANT
If you've ever worked with a recruitment consultant before, you’ll have been asked to call and check in at the end of the interview to discuss how it went. There are two main reasons for this and it's not just because they want to know you got out alive!
1. If we hear from the client before the candidate we automatically know we have a problem on our hands. The majority of our interviewers expect the first call on leaving the building to be to the recruiter to outline what worked, didn’t and how interested you are even if that is 45 seconds on a walk to the nearest tube station.
2. Very rarely does an interview go entirely smoothly and if you felt you answered something incorrectly, (overly) waffled or missed the direction of an answer; all can be overcome with a quick call and acknowledgement. We push for the call after the interview as we have seen so many interviews that would have been rejections turned around at the 11th hour by a quick call to the interviewer to clarify or adjust an answer.
12. THANK YOU GOES A LONG WAY
The thank-you email is, without a doubt, the most unused tool an interviewee can utilise to help aid a job application. I have known the thank-you email secure pay increases, job titles and even offers. Not only does this show a interest and enthusiasm on your part, but also provides you the opportunity to further summarise why you're right for the role.
The email should be sent to your recruitment consultant to forward on to the client which will also give them a chance of adding in their own overview as to why you stand out and what they like about you.
Here’s a couple of examples in case you need them!
"Hi (interviewer), I just wanted to take a moment to thank you and X for your time today. It was great to understand more about the business and gain a deeper understanding of the role and how it fits in with the wider team. I feel I would be an excellent fit for the role and feel I have a lot to offer the business."
"Hi (interviewer), thanks again for your time today, it was great to meet yourself and X. I just wanted to send a note to say I thoroughly enjoyed finding out more about the position and feel I would be a great match for the team."
Although you can't prepare for every eventuality at interview, by following the above steps and being as prepared as you possibly can, you'll almost certainly be on the right track!