We list this first, because it should be an over-riding theme to your whole interview approach. Approaching the interview with an enthusiastic attitude is often the defining factor in whether an offer is made. There are times individuals approach an interview with the mindset of “seeing how it goes.” That attitude is quite apparent, and rarely achieves success. Open every conversation with a firm handshake, engage with good eye contact, a smile and a confident approach.
Approach the research/preparation as if your livelihood depends on it. Focus your thoughts on doing everything possible to get the offer, before deciding whether you wish to accept the role or not. Many rewards come from this attitude/approach, including getting the role you want right now; Or, even if it is not perfect for you, that impression you made might lead to an offer of a higher role from the same company in the future; Or, the manager who interviewed you might move on, and remember you at a new company that might be an even better fit commute/or culture-wise. You interview so rarely, don’t waste these valuable opportunities. Enter the process to make your best possible impression-make them want to hire 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. Find out as much as you can about the company, the vacancy and the interviewer before the meeting. Look at their website, LinkedIn (for interviewer backgrounds), get an Annual Report, etc. Comprehensively understand the job description, researching any areas that you may not be familiar with. Endeavour to find out why the vacancy exists, who will interview you, what is their interview style, what is the format of the interview? Ensure that you discuss/re-discuss target compensation with your recruiting contact (if being represented by an agency) prior to each interview, and before filling out any applications.
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 support, team make-up, and who has worked out best on the team.
You are determining your fit with the style of the manager/team as well as they are evaluating your fit. A couple/ few well placed questions can help you determine your fit in the group. But, a caution to the wise: A candidate does not want to ask so many questions that they come across as difficult. Most of the dialogue and information exchanged in the interview should hopefully come through the client’s questions and your answers. A candidate’s questions are best used to better ascertain what the client wants in the potential hire, who works best in their group (to target your answers), and to highlight your insightful “next level” interest in the company.
Always refrain from asking questions regarding holiday, benefits, and money - especially in the first interview. These can be covered in the latter part of the interview process (offer stage).
When you have your questions written down in a clean notebook, it 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.
If your CV has been sent to the company by a Recruiter, ask for a copy of the CV from your Recruiter contact. Always re-read your CV prior to interview and try to anticipate likely questions (for example: date lapses between jobs, or short tenure in roles typically are questioned. Have detailed answers to explain these anomalies in your work history- prefer answers that can frame any situation explained leading to growth personally or professionally).
5. Prepare your journey to arrive AT LEAST 10-15 minutes early (in Los Angeles, advise 20-30 minutes).
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. Have the number to the Recruiter arranging the interview handy on your commute, just in case. Arriving early also gives you time to compose yourself, grab a quick snack, drink, etc. Don’t add stress by cutting it close on arrival time.
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression! Even if the company maintains a casual dress code (make sure you check!), take care with personal grooming, making sure clothes are clean and pressed and shoes clean. We suggest dressing at a level one step above the company dress code. If a company dress code is “casual,” than “business casual” can make an impression. If it is “business casual,” then “smart business casual” makes an impression (a long sleeve button down, and slacks/shoes for men as an example of “smart business casual”).
If you are well prepared you can relax and let your real personality shine through. Although your 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.
Have brief stories ready that show the areas you have truly delivered/ or developed. You should always have examples ready for: The biggest wins you have had in your career; The instances where you delivered a solution when the team thought a problem was nearly unsolvable; An area where you came up to speed on a technology/process that you previously had no experience with (and became the group expert, or similar). These stories can be shared to answer many questions. They are especially helpful when encountering questions on technology/processes you are unfamiliar with. They illustrate your ability to learn quickly. If a manager asks if you can learn a software or new process you are unfamiliar with… A simple “yes I can” with no examples behind it of you “doing it” in the past rings hollow. Have your wins throughout your career ready to share!
Concentrate on the questions being asked. Then, take your time in considering your reply. Always make sure your answer covers the question being asked. If you don’t have the knowledge being asked, be truthful. The interviewer is more likely to respect your honest approach. If the question is nebulous, or if you are unsure of the target of the question, ask for clarification! It is better not to guess in an interview. You can occasionally ask “have I covered what you were asking?”. But, best to not make it a practice to ask after every answer. Non-verbal cues from the interviewer can also give you feedback on if you are hitting the target (nod of the head, etc).
Keep your answers somewhat concise. The interviewer can always ask you to expand if he wishes. But never answer with simple “yes” or “no” answers. A “yes” should be followed with examples illustrating the experience. For instance: “Yes I can, I did exactly that at XYZ and ABC companies”.
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 learned.
It is NEVER good form to badmouth prior employers/managers. A disgruntled ex employee is more likely to be a future disgruntled employee. Don’t put yourself in the class of “disgruntled employee.” Focus on what you learned at prior employers, and how that may benefit your next company.
Do not make the employer work to find a reason to hire you, GIVE THEM ONE!
This is often ignored but is one of the most critical parts of the interview process. At the end of the interview:
• Summarize why you are keen on the position e.g. company plans, opportunity, training, earning potential etc. Two or three reasons will reinforce their belief in your interest.
• Highlight how you fit their requirements e.g. relevant experience, enthusiasm, achievements, education, track record etc. Again, two or three reasons will suffice.
• Ask whether they need any further information, or have any concerns. It gives you one last chance to clear any potential misconceptions, or address areas they intended to cover.
• Let them know you are very interested in the role and that you look forward to hear back from them.
• Thank the Interviewer/s for their time. Again FIRM HANDSHAKE and a SMILE!
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 organization. Immediately following the interview, remember to give your recruitment consultant a call and let them know how you think the interview went so they can then pass on any feedback to the manager.
GOOD LUCK… but remember, you make your own luck by not leaving anything to chance and taking the time to prepare thoroughly!
On The Path To Corporate Success