Deconstructing Interviews – Interview tips from the top Step out of your interview knowing you have
Interviews are by large a pretty nerve jangling experience. That hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach, the slight hand tremor, the moments of self-doubt and being convinced that all that research you have done has simply vanished from your mind.
To be honest if you weren’t a little nervous then we would be worried that perhaps you weren’t taking the meeting seriously!
Here we disassemble the interview and make sure you have all bases covered. The better prepared you are the more relaxed you will be and the more of YOU can shine through. After all you are far more than just a list of skills.
Interviews assess many levels of an individual’s character and career, including cultural fit, team dynamics and willingness to contribute to the organisation as a whole.
Employers are seeking candidates who will be valued, trusted and productive team players.
It is critical to consider how you can best demonstrate your skills and experience and make sure this is done in a positive and constructive manner. You need consider which examples you can use to provide evidence that YOU are the right individual to undertake the role.
An invitation to interview means the employer believes you have the potential to do the job. The interview is your chance to convince your future boss that you are the person they want to join their team.
Preparation is KEY!
Know the date, time and location along with the full names of the interviewers and their job titles (and any background on them if possible, get on line and have a dig around. Linked in will give you a potted history. )
If in doubt of where to go, leave plenty of time, get there early, get settled and have a drink so you aren’t rushed or stressed.
Check industry press for any relevant news about the company or agency and take a look at their website but go above and beyond this, what awards have they won and why did they win them, recent bid wins, who are their clients and who are they competitors?
Make sure you are up to speed with your industry news and relevant topics. You need to be able to hold an intelligent and informed conversation and offer your own opinions and views.
Read the job description (if there is one) in careful detail making any notes or questions. Your goal is to try to think of an example for every point on that job description. If you have done it before then you need to be getting this across in the form of a really strong example.
Research yourself as much as you research the company. Take the time to read through your C.V thoroughly to refresh your memory about your skills and relevant experience. You need to be able to talk through the numbers and be specific.
Write down a list of your strengths and weaknesses- proudest and toughest experiences so you have your best examples to hand
Prepare some intelligent questions about both the company or agency and the position you are being interviewed for, if there is a good rapport which there should be between you and your interviewer feel free to ask questions to them too. An interview is a two way process, you need to make sure that this really is your dream opportunity and indeed dream company. Asking questions is a great chance to show you know your stuff; “I see you have recently won the **** account from ****, amazing news. What do you think the key to this was?”
Examples, examples, examples!
Never be late!
Know the location
Prepare your route in advance – tfl.gov.uk/journeyplanner
If you are going to be late, call as soon as you can with a real explanation. Interviewers are human after all, they know that sometimes circumstances can be stacked against you and be out of your control.
No 2nd chances to make that first impression!
Look your absolute best and do your best. Be confident in your first impression with firm positive handshakes. You can smile and enjoy the interview.
Most agencies are more relaxed in their dress code but that’s something you adopt once you’ve been successful, you should always be smart for an interview.
Two ears and one mouth!
Listen carefully, very carefully. If answering a direct question give a direct and clear answer to the question.
Always show your interest in the company or agency and the reasons why.
Make sure that you ask questions when appropriate and it’s your opportunity to do so – remember an interview is a 2 way process not only an opportunity to sell yourself but also an important chance to really decide if this is the move you really want to be making. The actual questions you ask the interviewer can matter as much as the responses. They demonstrate how forward thinking you are, and how eager you are to invest yourself in the company’s future. Here are several great questions that can set you apart from other candidates:
What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days? A great candidate wants to hit the ground running and make a difference from day 1. They also want to know how they will be evaluated and understand their objectives and expectations.
What are the common attributes of your top performers? Great candidates want to be great long term employees. This question demonstrates that firstly you want to know that you are a good fit and secondly that if you do, you want to be a top performer!
What are the one or two things that really drive results for the company? As an interviewee, you want to know what truly makes a difference for the company, because you know helping the company succeed means you will also succeed on multiple levels.
What do employees do in their spare time? Company cultures can be a controversial topic, but they can often be a large factor for many employers. Happy employees love the work they do and genuinely like the people they work with. A great candidate will want to know that they have a reasonable chance of fitting in with the culture.
How do you plan to deal with…..? Every business faces major challenges – use this question to show you know what these challenges are, demonstrate you know your sector and are realistic about the future. It shows both forethought and genuine interest.
These questions can help you stand out and demonstrate to an interviewer that you mean business, and you are conscious of the company’s future and your role in it.
More killer questions to ask!
How would you describe the general culture of the company and the workplace?
Why did you choose this company?
Will there be any form of training provided?
What are some of the biggest challenges/successes facing the department currently?
What process will be used to evaluate my employee performance?
Who will be my direct supervisor?
Are there many opportunities for professional development within the company?
What is the usual time frame for making the hiring decision?
May I contact you if any further questions arise?
Many candidates take the wrong path and ask inappropriate questions in their first interview. As tempting as benefits and salary information is to know up front, that should only be discussed after you have been offered the position. Plus, you will be in a better position to negotiate anyways. Not jumping ahead is important because you should be focused on having a great and memorable first interview to be called in for a second.
The interview process can be your best introduction to the company and by developing an intrapersonal connection with the interviewee by simply reciprocating in the dialogue; you can stand out among the rest of the candidates. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable they are and will appreciate the gesture in reciprocating the dialogue. Remember, this is your opportunity to obtain further information regarding the position and the company that you could not get while researching online, so take advantage of this opportunity and make sure it is the right position for you.
Leave a lasting impression when a future employers asks you ‘do you have any questions’. Last thing to say is ‘no I think you have covered everything’!
Even if they have dug deep. Build deeper rapport by asking the interviewer(s) something personal about themselves. Not so personal, as to what’s their dress or suit size, but something about them individually.
How long have you been at x?
What do you love most about being here?
Finally, an interview is effectively a sales meeting, for you. You are selling YOURSELF. CLOSE the meeting by asking the interviewer (especially at second stage!):
Do you have any reservations about my fit and experience?
Have I done all I can to prove my fit, passion and interest for this opportunity.
What are the next steps from here on in etc.
Employers will not recruit candidates who:
Demonstrate a lack of enthusiasm or a negative attitude towards themselves or others
Criticise their managers or those they report to
Give the impression that the role is not their first choice
Cannot commit to the length of the role
Be yourself, and let your personality show through. Especially if it’s an agency opportunity as energy fit is extremely important
At the end of the interview make sure you close the meeting, if you are interested TELL THEM. Ask when you are likely to hear and leave the interviewer with no doubt in their mind that you want this opportunity and not any job.