So, you’ve got through to the interview stage, but now it’s time to work your magic and make sure that the impression you leave behind is the right one.
Research the company you’re interviewing with:
- Understand the company. You’re living in the information age and this can really work to your advantage. Research the company, search online for new articles, if they’re listed, understand what their share price is doing and if possible, why. Speak to anyone you might know who works there and learn what you can.
- Get as much information about the impending interview as you can. You can ask your recruiter or, if you applied directly, the recruitment manager. Find out the format of the interview, who will be holding the interview, how many people you will be meeting with and whatever you can about the process.
- Once you’ve found out who you will be meeting with, do your homework. Use social media sites, blogs or news sites to build up a picture of their interests and try and find something you have in common that you might be able to use as an ice breaker. Look out for any red flags, so maybe don’t gush about your summer working in an animal testing laboratory if the person you are meeting has a social media stream full of animal rights campaign content.
- Check out Twitter too. This will give you a real-time context of the company, what events they have on, how socially active they are and what customers and employees are saying.
- If the company provides a product or a service, try it out beforehand if possible. This way you can talk about it with authority.
Think about the interview process:
- Have a few questions up your sleeve. These can be about the next stages, when you can expect to hear, or about the opportunity for development or training. If you can, try and make these specific to the interviewer – about what approaches they take to the management of their team, or how they see the company’s challenges in the coming five years.
- If you’re looking at an interview with mathematical and numerical reasoning, run through some practice tests beforehand. You can download lots of different types online and they will help you get up to speed, so if you are faced with tests under time pressure, it won’t seem so scary.
- Reread your CV. It’s probably been a while since you wrote it so take the time to read it through and remind yourself of the roles you’ve held and the experience you’ve built up.
- Re-read the job spec and map your experience to the experience and skills they are looking for. Try and provide specific examples where you have shown an aptitude for the skill sets they are looking for.
- Practice with questions that you’re likely to be asked. Ask family members or friends to fire questions at you and practice your responses.
- Anticipate the ‘What’s your biggest weakness’ question. Don’t tell them it’s that you pick your nose, fall asleep at your desk or that you can’t make it through the day without tending to your Facebook addiction. Look for a negative that could be seen as a positive thing. Maybe you’re a perfectionist. Who doesn’t like a perfectionist? Perhaps you have a hard time not completing things, so you have to sometimes make yourself step away from a task. Maybe you struggle with public speaking, but you’ve been working on overcoming this …
- Talk the interviewers’ language. If you’re going for an HR role, you’ll want to talk much more about people and how to manage people, whereas if you’re meeting with a group finance director, numbers, percentages, and stats are likely to impress.
- Practice answering interview questions in the mirror. Look out for any nervous habits you have.
Plan the interview day:
- Plan your outfit and ensure it portrays you that you to show. Make sure your clothes are washed and ironed and ready to make you look amazing.
- Don’t forget the details- clean your shoes, make sure your handbag isn’t the ripped one from 15 years ago.
- Take some spare copies of your CV along with you. That way you can hand it to anyone who doesn’t have it to hand.
- Take a notepad and pen so you can note down any action points you might be asked, or any notes that you wish to take. Don’t default to simply note taking though. Make sure you are present through the interview and the conversation is the most important element.
- Think of a stock response for any questions that might stump you. Using a response such as, ‘That’s a great question, but I think I would say …’ just to buy yourself some time to find your best answer.
- Make sure you are aware of any body language habits. Avoid crossing your arms across your body, biting your nails or shaking your foot, not only can these give off the wrong vibe, but they can also be extremely distracting.
- Get an early night the night before. You don’t want to yawn your way through an interview. No one wants to recruit a candidate who would rather be tucked up in bed.
Now, with all that prep, you’ll be well on your way to interview success. Good luck! And don’t forget to switch your phone off at the door!