So, one of the hardest parts of the recruitment process is done, and you’ve secured yourself an interview. No doubt it involved countless re-drafts of your CV and the inevitable knockbacks of creating one cover letter after another, just to receive nothing back. Wouldn’t it be nice if you hadn’t had to go through all this? With AM CityGrad you wouldn’t have to, but more on that another time… When it comes to an interview though, preparation is key and here we go through a few key points to consider when you reach this stage. Remember, some research has shown that when it comes to interviews, they are what 90% of hiring decisions are primarily based on!
Preparing For The Interview:
This one comes up time and time again, but you would be amazed how many people fail to effectively research and prepare for the role they are interviewing for. One of the first things you should do, as soon as you get confirmation of your invitation, is to research the following in depth:
Company – This one should be relatively easy, pretty much every company worth their salt will have a good online/digital presence these days. This makes it much easier for you to research what the company does, when it was founded, what their core values are and so much more. Really get to know this information as it will show later!
Role – This could prove a little more taxing if you’ve not received adequate information from the company in advance. No doubt you saw some sort of job description before either applying or being referred by an agency, but it really is worth trying to ascertain an accurate and up to date brief on the role – that way you can tick every criteria you meet.
Interviewers – If you can nail your research on the person interviewing you, then it will count for much more than either of the above. The execution has to be a lot more subtle, don’t just tell them you’ve stalked their LinkedIn! But if they have a personal page on the company website then make sure to read it and do look at their LinkedIn to see any areas of expertise/interest/experience where you overlap – then make the connection in the interview.
Having some great (and relevant!) stories ready to go for an interview is one of the most important aspects but is so often overlooked. Take the time to really think these through before, most likely they will be anecdotal evidence of your experience/achievements in either education or the world of work. They should be work appropriate and don’t endlessly reel of information – keep it relevant to why you’d be good for the role and concise enough to keep the interviewers attention.
A good way to plan what stories you may use in advance is to utilise the STAR method – Situation, Task, Action & Result. The situation is the context of your story – where you were working or what you were doing, the task is the challenges and goals that were set, the action is what you did to accomplish those goals (and ideally more!) and the result is the positive impact that your work had. This will help to ensure that what you are discussing with the interviewer stays relevant throughout.
Most people are guilty of not following this rule at least once throughout their career, and it is so simple to do if you plan ahead. It’s easy to assume that because you’ve done such detailed research into the company and role, that you couldn’t possibly have any further questions. There is always something more to be learned, even if asking the interviewer more about a ‘day in the life’ of the company. As basic as this is, it really shows your invested and the interviewer will remember that you put the pressure back on them!
This one is an absolute no brainer, you can have made the best plan in the world but if you don’t practice your ‘pitch’ it will really show when it comes to the interview. You want to seem calm and composed and the best way to do this is to have rehearsed each and every answer your plan to give. Depending on your situation you can do this yourself in front of a mirror or webcam, or perhaps ask a family member or friend to do a role play with you.
No one wants to be late to an interview, it is one of the most irritating things companies encounter during the hiring process and if you’re late without a good reason then you can pretty much guarantee that you won’t be getting the job there and then. Go to the effort of properly planning your route, maybe even do it once in advance if you can so you know where you’re going. Unless it’s a video interview of course, then a quick computer check should suffice!
During The Interview:
Dress To Impress:
Remember, an interview is the best possible way for you to convey who you are and what you are about to a future employer so you want to go to the effort of making sure the impression you give is a good one! Corporate wear is almost always the accepted standard for interviews and it is always better to be over, rather than under, dressed.
Take A CV With You:
This one is often overlooked and some people choose not to take one with them anyway. It shouldn’t do you a disservice by not taking one, but if you do come with a personal copy of your CV then you are already articulating your organisational skills without saying a word. It can also be a useful memory jog, for those bits of your CV that slip your mind.
You need to do this, without making it look like you are doing this. Essentially you want to convey to the company in the simplest possible terms that not only would securing the position be a win for you, but that the organisation itself stands to benefit if they hire you. Confidence is key so make sure to show why you’d be the best fit, but don’t be cocky.
There are a lot of personal attributes that employers like to see and equally a lot that you will want to convey. As a rule of thumb, four of the most important attributes to demonstrate are: that you are confident, that you are enthusiastic, that you can be specific and that you can be succinct – it’s easy to drift on this last one, so make a conscious effort.
Some people disagree as to whether this is something that candidates should do during interviews, but it is at least worth considering. On the upside you will look organised, thoughtful and prepared but there is the risk that your attention will be distracted. Perhaps take along a notebook and pen, and ask the interviewer if they would mind!
Follow Up On The Interview:
This one really goes without saying but MAKE SURE YOU THANK THE INTERVIEWER at the end of your meeting. They will always thank you for coming in but go to the effort of thanking them for taking the time to meet with you.
Ask For The Job:
Perhaps don’t be as direct as asking for the job on the spot, but find ways of working your commitment to this role into the conversation. When finishing your meeting, emphasise how much the role excites you and how much you are looking forward to hearing their decision. That way they know you would take the position if offered, which they love.
Follow Up Directly:
This final point does depend slightly on the situation. Some recruiters actively ask candidates not to reach out to their client directly and if so then you should definitely respect their wish. If you’ve applied directly or spoken to the consultant though, then a well formed thank you follow up email could go a long way towards you getting the job…
So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to all the factors you need to consider to give a world class interview. As we mentioned at the start, you’ve done the hardest part already by getting yourself out there – just this one last hurdle and the position could be yours, make sure you make it count!
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