Top Tips for Interview Success
Many of the candidates who we arrange interviews for have lost count of the previous interviews they have attended and therefore feel comfortable with the process, whilst others may have only interviewed a few times in their whole career. Whatever your experience though, it is always worth time reviewing your approach and interview technique to maximise your likelihood of success. Just because you’ve notched up a dozen interviews in the year doesn’t mean that you’ve performed well, or that you can’t dramatically improve.
There have been hundreds of books and papers written on interview technique, tips and psychology. A google search this morning returned over 12m pages! However, the following 15 points have been condensed down from the most important considerations offered up from all our Recruitment Consultants, with external input from several senior HR & Hiring Managers / Directors within our clients.
Some of these may seem obvious, but it is shocking how often they are ignored, the consequences of which are quickly apparent and completely irreversible. It’s certainly worth investing a few minutes reviewing our Top 15 Tips to maximise your chances.
1. Do your homework. Find out as much as you can about the company, the vacancy and the interviewer before the meeting. Look at their website, get an Annual Report, obtain product brochures etc and comprehensively understand the job description, researching any areas that you may be unsure of. Ask your Technology Resourcing Consultant what they know about the company, why the vacancy exists, who will interview you, what is their interview style, what is the format of the interview? You cannot be too well prepared!
By gathering this information you will show a genuine interest in the opportunity. It will make you stand out from other candidates who may not have done their research and it also helps you objectively assess the suitability of the role for you.
2. Prepare questions for the interview. Asking intelligent prepared questions again shows that you have given thought to this opportunity. Do not ask questions you could and should have found the answer to before the interview. Focus the questioning on this particular role, the company strategy and career / professional development. Always refrain from asking questions regarding holiday, benefits, money or what the company can do for you. These can be covered in the latter part of the process or with the recruitment company.
Ensure you have your questions written down in a clean notebook, reinforces the interviewer’s perception that you have prepared for the meeting. Even if your questions have been covered throughout the interview, still check your notes before leaving the interview.
3. Carry an extra copy of your CV with you – just in case. If your CV has been sent to the company by a recruitment company, ask for a copy of the CV from the Recruiter, as they sent it to the company. Always re-read your CV prior to interview and try to pre-empt likely questions. You can also review a list of typical interview questions that we have produced from our experience, to help you prepare your own answers accordingly.
4. Prepare your journey to arrive at least 10-15 minutes early. Everyone understands that traffic jams, public transport and parking can be a problem but interviewers rightly expect you to have checked your journey plans and allowed contingent time for possible problems. If you are going to be late it is imperative that you call ahead to advise that you’ve been delayed and give an ETA. Arriving early also gives you time to compose yourself, go the bathroom and ensure that you’re ready without arriving in a panic.
5. Dress appropriately and conservatively. Very bold and overstated colours may not be to everyone’s taste, wearing more neutral colours is unlikely to cause offense. Remember you never get a second chance to make a good first impression! Even if the company have a casual dress code (and do make sure you check!), take care with personal grooming, making sure clothes are clean and pressed and shoes clean.
6. Set your key objectives prior to the interview. The interview is a two way process and you should attend knowing exactly what you want to achieve from the meeting. Ask your key questions early in the interview, to learn which areas are most important to the hiring manager and allowing you to tailor your responses through the rest of the meeting.
7. Relax If you are well prepared you can relax and let your real personality shine through. Although your technical skills and experience will be key to their decision, managers undoubtedly hire staff they can enjoy working with, so a pleasant personality coupled with good attitude will take you a long way.
8. Be enthusiastic at interview, with the clear aim of securing the job. Approaching the interview with the right attitude is often the defining factor in whether an offer is made. This may seem blindingly obvious but all too often individuals approach an interview with the mindset of ‘seeing how it goes’ – needless to say this attitude is quite apparent and rarely achieves success. Open the meeting with a firm handshake, engage with good eye contact, a smile and a confident approach. Focus your thoughts on doing everything possible to get the offer, before deciding whether you wish to accept the role or not.
9. Focus attentively on the questions and answer them succinctly. Concentrate on the questions being asked rather than thinking about your answers, then take your time in considering your reply, before blurting out your first thoughts. Your answer should usually then be no longer than about 60 seconds – it’s better to keep your answers concise than waffling on whilst the interviewer’s eyes glaze over. The interviewer can always ask you expand if he wishes.
10. Give answers that substantiate your capability, drawing on your relevant experiences. Answer questions with ‘I’ not ‘we’ – your interviewer wants to know what you achieved rather than what your team did collectively. When highlighting your achievements, which you should have prepared prior to the interview, you should explain clearly how you accomplished them, including any obstacles overcome and what you learnt.
11. If you don’t understand a question, ask the interviewer for clarification. If after due consideration you really can’t answer a question, say so. The interviewer is more likely to respect your honest approach.
12. Never rant or complain about a previous employer. Give 10 words why you are leaving and 50 about what you learnt while you were there and how that may benefit your next company.
13. Sell your assets, capability and relevant experience at every available opportunity. Do not make the employer work to find a reason to hire you, GIVE THEM ONE!
14. Close the interview in a structured manner. This is often ignored but is one of the most critical parts of the interview process. At the end of the interview:
· Thank the Interviewer/s for their time.
· Summarise why you are keen on the position eg. company plans, opportunity, training, earning potential etc. Two or three reasons will reinforce their belief in your interest.
· Highlight / reiterate why they should select you for the position eg relevant experience, enthusiasm, achievements, education, track record etc. Again two or three reasons will suffice.
· Ask the Interviewer/s how they felt the interview went
· Ask whether they have any concerns or if think you can do the job and would fit to their team
· Ask whether they need any further information
· Clarify the decision making process from here on
15. Send an email to the interviewer within 24 hours to thank him / her for their time. It also gives you an opportunity to reiterate your interest and suitability and outline again your core skills and value you would bring to their organisation.
and finally, Good luck!
but remember, you make your own luck by not leaving anything to chance and taking the time to prepare thoroughly.
Technology Resourcing has extensive experience in coaching individuals through the interview process, from graduates to board executives and we are very happy to help or guide you accordingly. Please don’t hesitate to call us on 01483 302211.