How to succeed in giving the best interview you can
Thinking about the actual interview and preparing for the questions you may be asked can be quite daunting. Even more so if you haven't had lots of experience in this or you feel your experience is a bit rusty. Good preparation and planning will make the difference between and good interview and an excellent interview.
If you do get nervous the more planning and preparation you do the more likely you will have a positive outcome.
Typically you should expect at least 2 interviews in the recruitment process, however this may also vary and we have known of applicants who have had to undergo 4 or 5 stages.
Usually the first interview is an overall assessment of skills, motivations and ability and can be combined with competency assessments and face to face meeting. This can then be followed up by a second stage process where fewer and sometimes one shortlisted applicant is chosen to meet individuals in the team.
The initial first interview could take place in varying formats. It could be a face to face meeting, a telephone or skype interview. The format may differ, however the objectives are usually very similar. To decide who should be invited back for a second stage, perhaps more in depth selection process.
The second stage is often combined with a presentation for more senior level positions. It is also an opportunity to meet members of the team who were not part of the original process and thrash out any concerns the employer may have about the applicant or assess skills which are needed in the job in hand.
During the whole interview process it is always important to be clear, honest and open and make sure that you are able to communicate your abilities and skills as well as interest in the company in an engaging way.
Preparing before the interview
Before you go for interview we will always fully brief you on what to expect and who will be involved, highlighting any tests or assessments.
Our consultants will have experience of working with the client and would usually be able to advise on the key aspects of the process as well as the structure and who is involved from the start. We will give you information about the company, culture and what they are looking to achieve with this hire.
From their initial interview with you, they should be able to advise on where they feel your strengths are and where you may have weaknesses and how you could overcome these.
Aside from attending the actual interview you should set aside time to do your own research too.
Research is key to a successful interview. The internet offers you the unique opportunity to research and find out as much as you can before you go to visit a company. If you don't prepare or research then you will almost certainly create a bad impression.
You should always look at the company's website, and see if there are any press releases offering information relevant to the industry. You may wish to speak to any people you know that work there or speak to the PR department.
Re-read the job description and make sure you are really clear as to what it is you are applying for and how that will fit into the business, you would be surprised how many candidates apply for roles without really understanding what the job actually is.
An employer will want to hire someone who is genuinely interested in their business, the job and are passionate about the sector they are working in. Even if you are working in one part of the business, many employers will also want someone who can demonstrate an understanding of the business as a whole and how the role they are applying to can cross into other areas of the business. Although you may be offering specialist skills, employers value people who have a broader view and understanding of business and who are able to go that extra mile to help out beyond their own actual job description.
Being able to show you understand the business, the job and demonstrate why this excites you and what you can contribute will make your application 100 times stronger.
Typical interview questions
If you review the job description and also your CV you can probably anticipate some of the questions an interviewer may have. These may be skills based, motivational or competency based questions.
Questions can include:
Why did you choose to study x y x ?
What made you follow the career path that you have chosen?
What qualifications or experience do you have that would be most relevant to the job?
What jobs have you enjoyed the most/ the least?
What strengths can you bring to the role and what are the challenges that you see for yourself in this role?
Tell us about our last role and why are you leaving?
What is the biggest success or sense of achievement you have experienced in your career to date?
Give me an example of a time when you have changed a way of doing things? Why did you want to change things and how did you go about implementing this?
Can you tell us about a time when you have worked well in team?
How have you managed a situation of conflict within a team?
Interacting with others can be challenging. How would you go about managing a situation of tension within a team?
Tell me about a time when you solved a problem and how you went about it?
Please describe a task you have successfully completed that has benefitted the company?
What were your individual targets or goals? What did you do to ensure you achieved them and what was the outcome?
There are many more questions which will be relevant to the job description in hand and these can be discussed with your consultant.
Let's talk money
Many candidates feel uncomfortable broaching the subject; deciding when is the right time to mention it and to whom you can discuss this personal subject with, can be complicated.
Our advice is to trust and talk to your recruiter about the subject and ensure that the recruiter has a total and accurate breakdown of all your salary and benefit package details. This should include forthcoming reviews, bonus including conditions and payment dates.
Recruiters have access to many companies' salary structures and therefore are able to quickly offer you industry benchmark salary information. They are working in your interests to secure the role for you and will be able represent your goals not only in terms of career prospects but also for financial reward.
We will help you formulate a plan of how you want to pitch your salary expectations and at what stage this should be discussed. In most instances, a clear and early understanding of salary is advised, however should the parameters of the job or responsibilities change then you will need to work together to communicate clearly to the client what your expectations are.
Other general tips
Remember that you are being assessed from the moment you turn up. The impression you give the receptionist can influence the final decision so it is always important to make a good impression from the start.
Be early and not late, so always plan your journey to arrive early, there can always be transport delays so it is worth also looking at a contingency plan.
Make sure you give a firm handshake and smile, it shows confidence.
Good eye contact is tremendously important, it creates trust and also helps build rapport with colleagues and clients.
In the interview make sure you sit up straight and try and avoid any nervous fidgeting . This can be a distraction and the interviewer may inevitably get carried away by the fidget rather than the actual content of what you are saying.
Make sure your answers are relevant and qualify your answers, always explain the reasons for your answer.
Don't be too negative about your current employer, you want people to think you are a positive person and someone they would enjoy working with.
If you are not sure about an answer to a technical questions don't pretend to know, ask for clarification and if you don't know then the answer say so and ask them what would be the right answer.
Always prepare a number of questions which are relevant to the role, the company and the sector.
If you are interested in a long term career with the company make sure you highlight your interest in this role, many line managers who conduct the first interview are looking for people who will stay in their department, especially if they are investing time and energy in training them. They will not want to train someone whose ultimate aim is to then leave in 6 -12 months time and move into something completely different.
Be realistic about your expectations and make sure you highlight what benefit you can offer to the company .
Explain why you are interested in the role and the company as this will leave a lasting impression with the interviewer.
This can make a difference to the decision of who they choose to join as the most interested candidate will often be the one who gets the job.
After the interview
Contact your consultant to feed back your thoughts as soon as possible. It is very important to outline your impressions of the interview, the company and the role and why you are / are not interested.
At this point you should highlight any reservations or concerns you may have as well as offer feedback on the actual process itself. Does the job meet your expectation? Did you have a good rapport with the interviewer? Do you have any reservations now you have been to the company and met with the Hiring Manager? Would you accept the role if offered?
It is always important that we receive feedback, or at least initial impressions. Employers like to hear what people think as soon as possible, otherwise they may be inclined to feel that the job isn't as interesting or important to you as it might be to other applicants that are quicker on the mark.
Lastly there will always be other elements to the interview process which are worth considering and this is where your relationship comes in with your consultant. Communication is key and ask as many questions as you need to. That's what we are here for.
We work hard to build up a really good understanding of what makes our clients tick and what they look for in job applications. We know what works well and what doesn't. It is a team effort and nothing gives us greater pleasure than finding the perfect role for our candidates.