We are committed to helping you find the perfect role. A huge part of that is helping you perform well at the vital interview stage so we have put together some generic guidelines to help you prepare.
These guidelines are meant for all types of candidates interviewing for all types of roles. We appreciate some have more experience than others but we believe that regardless of this, it is fundamentally important that you prepare thoroughly for each & every interview you attend.
Do your research – this involves finding as much as you can about the company and can also include the people interviewing you. Best practice would be to thoroughly review the company website…what do you like about it & why? do they have a mission statement or values published? Can you find any historical or recent news articles about the company online? Can you find out who their main competitors are? A potential new employer will expect a hungry & eager new potential employee to know a little about the company they are applying to work for. It also may be possible to use LinkedIn to reach out to your interviewer and send them a message saying you’re looking forward to meeting them. Doing the above research may help you to formulate a few questions for you to ask when face to face.
No-one will expect you to know intimate details of the company and how it works, but with preparation you are telling a hiring manage you are taking the application seriously, you are resourceful & enthusiastic.
Prepare some key questions to ask – it’s an interview situation but effectively a conversation. It is only right that you prepare & ask some pertinent questions. This is not about “waffling” or asking questions for the sake of it. You are interested in a brand new role at a brand new company – ask the questions you need answered!
A key tip is to think on a medium to long term basis as well as more short term orientated questions. Some examples ….. What are the training & development opportunities like further downstream.?What is the culture like? What is the environment like? etc
It is likely that questions will arise in your head as the interview takes place but is always advisable to have a few key questions pre-prepared. Again, it demonstrates that you have approached the interview professionally and prepared accordingly. It also demonstrates enthusiasm & inquisitiveness.
Pre-empt interview questions – the questions asked will very much depend on the role in question. It is important that you take some time to try and anticipate what you will be asked face to face. Some very common generic interview questions revolve around…
- What motivates you? Goals?
- Where do you want to be in 5 years?
- What attracts you most about the role?
- What challenges have you overcame in a previous role?
- Why are you the right candidate?
- What are your key strengths?
- What are your main weaknesses?
- Why did you leave your last role? or Why are you thinking of leaving?
- What would your last boss say about you?
Take some time out to answer the above and practice delivering comfortably. Also, what other questions could you be asked?
Don’t get overly concerned about every potential topic because that would be impossible. This is more about being prepared for some of the more generic, but important, questions to expect.
Know yourself to sell yourself – do you really know your own strengths & “weaknesses”? Would you be able to discuss them comfortably?
A good exercise is to write them down and think about how they apply to the role in question. If you discuss a strength at an interview, always provide an example of when you used that strength and the positive outcome of an event because of this. Whilst weakness may have a negative connotation (perhaps more PC to say “area that requires further development”!) the fact of life is that everyone has them, so it’s important to view them from a professional stance as opposed to character weaknesses. On this front, honesty is always the best policy, but you can turn this to a positive by being able to discuss how you may have overcome challenges with extra effort, support or training etc.
- Think about all the strengths you have, examples of when you have used them & practice how to convey that in a conversation.
- Think about perceived weaknesses but be able to discuss how you plan to overcome them or how your strengths far outweigh them thus mitigating risk to your new employer. Practice how you would get this across in a conversation.
It is also advisable to write down what things motivate and drive you and why? Practice discussing these, what these mean for your new employers, and how they make you a standout candidate. An employer will want to know what makes you “tick”
Preparation on the above will help you show a hiring manager that you are self-aware which helps you confidently convey your true value to a potential new employer and what you will bring to the role and company.
CV optimisation – it is key that your CV accurately reflects your career to date along with skills & experience gained. Fundamental things like conflicting dates, bad spelling & grammar are a huge no-no. Your potential new employer will have seen your CV by this stage in the process but we recommend you take along a copy for your own to reference while face to face. A tip would also be to highlight areas of your CVs that you feel are of particular importance for the role you are interviewing for. This only helps you to make sure the applicable skills & experience get highlighted during the interview as required.
Timekeeping & dress code – you will know this already, but it really does pay to turn up a little early and get settled. Also, be very well presented – first impressions count as we know!
Ask for feedback – absolutely key and something that candidates can either feel uncomfortable with or tend to rush through. If you’ve prepared well then it is only natural to ask how you have performed and politely ask the interviewers to give you some constructive feedback.
Be yourself – it may be cliched & so basic, but never underestimate the confidence you will gain by simply being yourself. Don’t waffle, don’t embellish and if you don’t understand anything then ask for clarity. You are there to be YOU. The employer wants to get to know the real YOU. Don’t try and be someone else as it will ultimately come across as unconvincing…at best!