Interviews are an integral part of your job search; it is the ultimate opportunity to sell yourself on a face-to-face basis. They should not be viewed as a one-sided interrogation with relentless questioning; rather they should be experienced as an open forum for two-way information flow. Preparation is the first essential step towards a successful interview. There is no excuse for a candidate possessing little or no information about the company with whom they are interviewing.
Make the time to get yourself fully prepared for this vital part of the job search process and remember the five ‘P’s’; Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
- Dress conservatively in smart business attire, first impressions last. Think about the image you wish to portray.
- Do your homework on the company; understand its products and services, its recent business growth, plant or office locations and future growth opportunities. This information is usually accessible from documents and publications such as the company’s annual report, corporate website or business publications.
- Assemble relevant personal documentation, such as resumes and qualification certificates. Understand how your own annual remuneration is packaged. Rather than exaggerate your package explain why you feel you are worth more, as you may well be asked to prove your remuneration.
- Prepare examples of previous successes or achievements in your career, as interviewers will often ask for substantiation of specific claims.
- Arrive on time, having previously checked the address and exact location of the interview.
- Know the interviewer’s correct title and the pronunciation of their name.
- Make and maintain eye contact, smile and have a firm handshake.
- Use small talk to establish rapport, but let the interviewer initiate and lead this, as being over familiar at this stage could set the wrong tone.
No two interviewers have the same style, let them take control of the flow but ensure that you display honesty, enthusiasm and warmth.
- During the interview, you will be assessed on your strengths and weaknesses. In addition to this, specific personal characteristics will be probed, such as attitude, aptitude, stability, motivation and maturity.
- After the interviewer has asked about your previous experience, specific skills and competencies and delved into your strengths and weaknesses, it is then opportune to talk about the specific role.
- Ensure that you have a number of well thought out and relevant questions to ask about the role.
- Is this a newly created position?
- Why has the position become available?
- How would you describe the corporate culture?
- What are the company’s plans for future development?
- Is there an induction or training programme for new recruits?
- What is the next step?
- Do not initiate discussions on remuneration at the first interview stage; however be open and honest if asked.
- When dealing with interview panels maintain eye contact with all equally, even if one individual is doing the majority of the talking.
- This is a good time to reiterate any strengths/experience that you feel would add to your candidature for the role.
- If you are interested in the position enquire about the next interview stage.
- If the interviewer offers the position to you and you want it, be prepared to accept it there and then, although this is more typical for contract and temporary roles. If you wish for some time to think it over, be tactful and courteous in asking for that time.
- Leave the interviewer with a good final impression, smile and give a firm handshake. Do not make the mistake of relaxing too early and undoing all your previous hard work
After The Interview
- Immediately after the interview call the relevant consultant at Charterhouse to discuss how you feel it went, what you did well, what you wish you had done differently and how interested you are in the role. This is a chance for the consultant to provide extra feedback to the client to further establish your suitability for the role.
- Write a follow up letter or email, regardless of how you feel it went. It is an opportunity to thank the interviewer for their time, recap on salient points, add points not covered, and express your level of interest and to leave a good final impression.
- Arrive on time, greet the interviewer by his or her title and surname and shake hands firmly.
- Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright in your chair and look alert and interested at all times.
- It is very important that you demonstrate your interpersonal skills during the interview. Try to be charismatic without being overly friendly.
- Be a good listener as well as a good talker.
- Look the interviewer in the eye and smile, let them feel that you are enjoying the process whilst taking it seriously.
- Follow the interviewer’s leads and make sure that your good points get across to the interviewer in a concise, factual and sincere manner. Waffle will get you nowhere.
- Conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. Remember you cannot reject a job that you are not offered.
- Try not to be too friendly and do not answer questions with a simple ”yes” or ”no”. Explain yourself whenever possible.
- Conversely do not ”over answer” questions, make your comments relevant and too the point without waffling.
- Do not lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and as close to the point as possible.
- Avoid making derogatory remarks about your present or former employers.
- Try not to use the term “we” when you are talking about your own achievements and avoid making very general statements that lack any real substance.
- Do not enquire about salary, holidays, bonuses etc. at the initial interview unless you are positive the interviewer wants to hire you.
- Finally do not slouch, mumble, smoke or answer that mobile phone you forgot to turn off.
Interviews are like school exams the more you say, the better you’ll do
- Yes, interviews are a bit like exams in so far as that you’re asked a number of questions to which you need to respond intelligently, but there the similarities end. Unlike exams, where lots of accurate detail is important, interviews are more about interacting and rapport building whilst simultaneously articulating smart answers. And a smart answer is often not the most detailed. In fact, long and overly detailed answers can drive interviewers to distraction, despite their technical accuracy. Knowing when to stop talking is a skill all successful interviewees have.
- Also unlike many exams, there are often no right or wrong answers in interviews. We’re all different and come to interviews from different backgrounds and business situations.
- What is important at an interview is to justify your actions and talk about your achievements in a confident manner.
Never say ‘I don’t know
- Interviews are about making a positive impression by answering questions intelligently and building rapport with the interviewer.
- To this end, many interviewees feel that they have to provide the perfect answer to every question put to them, irrespective of whether or not they actually know the answer. Clearly, a great interview is one in which you can answer all the questions (and you should be able to do so if you take the time to prepare correctly); however, if you don’t know the answer to something, it is better to admit to it rather than pretend to know and start waffling. Most interviewers can pick waffling a mile away and they don’t like it for a couple of very important reasons: first, it is likely to make you sound dishonest; and second, it will make you sound considerably less than intelligent.
- You may as well not attend the interview if you give the impression that you’re neither honest nor bright.
- Trying to answer a question that you have little idea about could undermine an otherwise great interview. This does not mean that you cannot attempt answers that you are unsure of. There’s nothing wrong with having a go, as long as you make your uncertainty clear to the interviewer at the outset. Here’s what an answer may sound like:
- I have to be honest and say that this is not an area I’m familiar with, though I am very interested in it. If you like, I’m happy to have a go at trying to address the issue, as long as you’re not expecting the perfect answer.
- I’d love to answer that question, but I need to be honest upfront and say that this is not an area that I’m overly familiar with, though I’m very interested in increasing my knowledge about it.
Good-looking people get the job
- I suppose if the job was for a drop-dead gorgeous femme fatale type in a movie, then good looks would certainly help, but for most other jobs the way you look is not as big a deal as many people make out.
- As we’ve already discussed, there will always be an inexperienced employer who will hire on the basis of superficial factors, but most employers are smarter than that. The claim that good-looking people get the job over plain-looking people makes one seriously flawed assumption—that employers make a habit of putting someone’s good looks before the interests of their livelihood. All my experience highly competitive environments and employers are only too keenly aware that a poor hiring decision can prove very costly.
- This is not to say that appearance and a bright personality are not important factors at an interview. It is very important that you dress appropriately and try your best to demonstrate all your friendly qualities.
- Good looks are certainly overrated in interviews, but an appropriate appearance and a friendly personality are not.