Big interview coming up? Not to worry! The devil is in the detail when it comes to interviewing, make sure you are on top of all the following bits and pieces and you will nail that interview. Here we go:
1. Briefing on the job and company
Have you got the full briefing of the job including tasks, reporting lines, location, travel requirements, salary range etc? If not, get it immediately. The more information you have, the more you can tailor your questions and sound like you know what you are talking about. What do you know about the company? Again, make sure you have information on the company and familiarize yourself with their website, check press releases and stock quotes to get an idea of what is happening at the moment. A candidate who is updated on the company and the industry will impress.
2. Briefing on the people
Who are the interviewers, how do they fit into the organization, what type of people are they? This is where your online sleuthing skills come very handy. The interviewers will have full information on you courtesy of your CV so it’s only fair you do some digging as well. Scour any resources including LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networking sites for information.
What is the format and agenda of the interview? You are likely to meet more than one person and they will have divided the questions and topics, find out exactly what to expect so you can be mentally prepared. Candidates sometimes go in expecting a soft chat about fringe benefits with HR but end up doing a four hour technical screening with managers from three continents, don’t let this happen to you.
4. Prepare for their questions
Break out your CV and ask yourself what you would ask a candidate with this profile. Put yourself in a hiring manager’s shoes and be critical of any gaps/omissions on your CV. Do role plays with a friend and let them play the devil’s advocate. Come up with the ten questions you are most likely to be asked and then come up with the answers. When you are happy with the answers, go for the next set of ten…
Do you know what the dress code is? You would be surprised how many candidates assume they know this and get it horribly wrong. Find out what your interviewers are likely to wear, so that you can wear something similar, only a touch more formal. Ways of finding this out would be calling the company reception/HR/line manager and asking. This also gives you an opportunity to further acquaint yourself with the people.
Related: How To Dress for Your Job Interview
Do you have the route description and have you called the company reception to double check everything? The worst thing that could happen is you arriving late; avoid this by giving yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.
Act confident and courteous. Strike up a conversation with the receptionist; make sure you leave a good impression with everyone in that office. When the interviewer picks you up, offer a firm handshake and crack on with some small talk before the meeting starts. By mirroring the interviewers body language, you will make him or her feel comfortable with you from the outset.
8. Know whom to butter up
If there are multiple interviewers, understand who the decision maker is and massage their ego. They will want to know that you will be a good worker and not cause any trouble. Most managers have experienced troublesome members of staff and in the process learned this the hard way so they will look out for any signs of rebel behavior.
9. Selling yourself
When talking about yourself, tell stories, case studies and examples. Storytelling is story selling, everyone loves a good story and so does your interviewer. Make yourself stand out by rehearsing a few stories about your achievements, how you dealt with conflict and how great a team player you are. The interviewers might see up to 20 candidates in one day so an interesting story worth repeating will anchor your interview in their minds.
Say what you can do, what you want to learn and where you want to go in your career. A candidate that demonstrates clarity in the interview instills confidence. Nobody can expect you to say exactly where you will be in 5 years time but a general vision is required.
11. Strengths and weaknesses
Everyone knows their strengths, try to limit them to 3. As for weaknesses, the best athletes in the world can give you their main weaknesses straight away. They are aware of them and working on them and so should you. This demonstrates your maturity and insight, which are crucial skills for any company. The old chestnut of giving a weakness that can be seen as strength isn’t going to work. The interviewers have heard the ‘workaholic; and ‘perfectionist’ routine more times than you have had hot meals.
Please do not waffle! I cannot reiterate this enough. Answer the questions, no more and no less. A candidate that goes off on a tangent, not only indicates lack of focus but possibly also nervousness. If you don’t know a subject, tell the interviewer this instead of trying to sound better than you are. They will appreciate your honesty and if you say that you are keen to learn more within this field, again you demonstrate a willingness to work on your weaknesses.
13. Grace under fire
A few interviewers will use various techniques with the aim to push you and seeing how you react under pressure. They want to see if you will give back ‘emotional’ responses. Don’t get caught in this, stay professional and level headed. The ideal candidate will stay calm and analyze the situation; the crash and burn candidate will get very excited and rant.
14. Interview the interviewer
After the incoming shells it’s your turn to return fire. It’s only fair that you are told what’s in it for you after having talked about your value add. Enquire about career paths, attrition levels, how often there are conflicts in the team, why people have left in the past. You should prepare up to ten clever questions and be prepared to ask follow up questions to the answers you are given.
15. Buying signals
Questions about your salary expectation, potential start date and booked vacation days are classic buying signals. Look out for any others, such as ‘could you do work in this area as well’ or ‘do you speak language x? This means they have a few ideas around your application.
16. End of the Interview
Close them down by asking for feedback straight away. Chances are the interviewers have made their decision about you already so go ahead and ask them. By asking you show interest as well as business acumen, even if you do not get the reply you want they will respect you for asking the question. If you work in sales and don’t ask the question to close the sale, you can only guess what impression that will give.
17. After the Interview
Dale Carnegie said to send a thank you note to every host, this applies for interviews as well. A simple email with a couple of lines of pleasantries will do. Again, this is a way for you to stand out from the other candidates and come across as more professional.
Further reading: 8 Essential Interview Tips by a Recruiter