Preparing for Interview
You will be fully briefed by your PeopleSource consultant before any interview. The first tip is this, “Listen to what we say“. We do this for a living and we know whereof we speak. We interview numerous candidates every week and gain a strong impression of their strengths and weaknesses in interview. Whether we have interviewed you over the phone or in person, we will have gained some insight into how you come across and what the employer is expecting: we can assist you, around the margins, in pairing their expectations with your presentation.
This is pretty obvious but it cannot be stressed often enough. You may have been to a number of interviews and feel somewhat demotivated about exhaustively researching the next potential employer but you should approach each interview with freshness and curiosity. This will come across when it matters. If you are knowledgeable about the company you are interviewing with, you will appear proactive and committed.
- Visit the company website, including their press centre, for up-to-date information.
- Read the company brochure/annual report.
- Keep an eye on the business press for any relevant industry articles.
- Ask your friends what they know about the company and if you know anybody who works there, pick their brains.
Before the interview, familiarise yourself with the role. Consider the key skills and experience necessary for the assignment, thinking of examples that highlight your own strengths in each area. Showing is usually better than telling, If you can demonstrate either that you have done previously done what they are looking for, have a clear account of how you did it and have a command of the narrative offering factual or quantifiable examples.
If you have no directly comparable experience, offer examples of what you have done well and indicate that you understand the role by explaining how your experience is relevant to what will be required of you. Think all of this through well in advance and refine it. Have an internal monologue, if that works for you, so that your account of your experience has been thought through.
For all the examples you give, consider the situation, the action you took and the positive effect it had. For example, if confidence is important to the role the interviewer will be looking for you to substantiate with examples of your own confidence. The line of questioning could include:
- Give an example of when you challenged a decision made by your peers/managers;
- What factors did you take into consideration before challenging this decision?;
- What action was taken by your peers/managers?;
- What was the outcome?
Interviewers often probe into areas of experience or ability which are relatively conceptual at first sight. You should be prepared to break the concepts down into real-life situations. For instance, these are some of the most commonly required competencies: decision-making and problem-solving; resilience and tenacity; confidence; planning and organising; teamwork and commercial awareness.
Give each of these concepts real thought. You may be surprised how well you can adapt them to your own story.
Know your CV inside out. Be prepared to talk in more detail about your CV experience and how it can be applied to the new role. If you there are gaps in your CV, make sure you can give positive explanations as to what you were doing. “Watching television” or “sowing my wild oats” are not good answers.
Plan your journey
You would be astonished how many excellent candidates take dead aim and shoot themselves directly in the foot by not budgeting for enough time to get to the interview punctually and in a relaxed frame of mind. The only thing worse than being late for the interview (you will be starting at Love-Forty if you are late) is to arrive in a lather of sweat, flustered and apologetic. Aim to arrive 10 minutes early. Obtain clear directions and plan your route in advance. If you are delayed for any reason, contact your PeopleSource Consultant immediately who will phone the client on your behalf and endeavour to pour oil on troubled waters.
Remember to leave plenty of time for the interview itself.
First impressions last
This will also seem very rudimentary, but an employer is likely to want someone who will best represent their company. The company may have dress-down Fridays or may even have a jeans and t-shirts policy, but don’t pre-empt that information. Show respect to your interviewers: dress smartly and professionally. A suit is usually advisable. In fact, when in doubt, wear a suit and tie with well-polished shoes and an ironed shirt.
Consider the following:
- Offer a firm and dry (not always possible) handshake.
- This tends to say, “I’m friendly and enthusiastic”.
- Regular eye contact shows you are confident and alert.
- Avoid appearing nervous by maintaining an open stance, as well as refraining from folding your arms and fidgeting.
The interviewer will take the lead, which you should follow, both in the direction of the interview and its tone.
Bear the following guidelines in mind:
- Concentrate and listen very carefully to the questions – answer the question you were asked, not the one you hoped you would be asked;
- Take time to formulate a clear and concise answer. Don’t gabble. Provide only factual experiences or qualifications;
- Speak confidently and remember to sell yourself without appearing boastful;
- Do not appear negative by criticising any previous employers or seem unfocused by showing a lack of career planning.
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