If the mere thought of your next interview leaves you as a sweaty mess, you’re gonna want to read on.
I have been in recruitment for about 20 years and if there’s one thing I have talked about a lot, and I mean a lot, it’s how to interview in a way that the company will go: Wow, we want that person!
Over the years I’ve attended hundreds of interviews as the HR lead in the corporate world and in more recent times I’ve been giving interview advice as a recruiter for Consult Recruitment. I’ve worked with loads of clients and candidates interviewing for roles from SMEs to massive corporates.
In the last 12 months, however, I’ve come to a realisation of what is truly important and why hiring managers make their decisions. You would think it’s about ticking all the boxes when it comes to experience but that’s not strictly true. Mostly they are made on intangibles like fit, attitude, flexibility and enthusiasm for your career and your position.
Preparing for your interview is all about preparing what questions you are going to ask, NOT what you’re going to answer. (Who knows what they’re going to ask) If you ask the right questions, show empathy and a real interest in them and their business, you’ll always be at or near the front of the queue.
Here they are, my top 7 interview tips:
1. The first interview is not about you
It’s 100% about what they want AND about getting to the 2nd interview (or offered stage) as the preferred potential employee. This means you are better off using your questions to impress the pants off them, hopefully not literally. Don’t use this question as the opportunity to find out about training, whether you get a car park and massages on Fridays.
You can put someone off by asking self-centred questions at this stage of the game. If you make it to the second stage of the process the hiring manager has probably made up his mind about you and that’s when you use the time to ask what you want.
2. Step into their shoes and think like them
Try to work out what they really want or what they are trying to achieve and base your questions on what you think would resonate with them. This will put you way ahead of the pack. I’ve found that even people who have hired others previously forget about this when they get to the other side of the fence. It’s always good to figure out what is important to the hirers.
3. People hire people they connect with
Unless we have gone into hyperdrive and find ourselves in the year 3000 currently, you will still be interviewed by a person or a panel of people and not robots. This means you have a chance to connect with the person who is firing questions at you.
You could have worked for a direct competitor in the same role but they won’t hire you if they don’t like you, however, they will sacrifice what seems to be important experience if they really connect with you. Make sure you’re asking them questions about them, directed at them. Think of questions like: how do you find working for the company? How can this role help you directly in your day to day job? What’s made you progress in your career?
4. Put yourself into the role, in your mind and theirs
If you ask questions that show you’ve actually thought about the company and the role you’re interviewing for, rather than just regurgitating what you’ve read on the website (you definitely do need to check the website for some background but try and think further than that). Questions like: I’ve been thinking about my first month in the role and I think that XXX and XXX would be important things to focus on, what do you think? Or: I’ve looked into the company and saw that you’ve just launched your product in Australia, how is it performing?
These questions will show the person conducting the interview how enthusiastic you are about the company already and will psychologically place you in the role in their mind, which can’t hurt right?
5. Mind the skills gap
We often get feedback saying, we really liked the person but it’s a shame they haven’t done X or Y. Unfortunately, unless it’s the exact same position in the exact same industry with the exact same systems you will never have all the experience needed.
You can overcome this red flag by highlighting things you haven’t done and then demonstrating how you would go about bridging that gap. Understanding and recognising your development areas and where you need to grow is so much better than thinking you have the Midas touch with everything.
6. Prepare to answer at least the basics
I know I said you cannot really prepare for what they ask of you but there are of course basic questions that get asked in every interview and to neglect that part of your preparation can spell doom. They will definitely ask you why you are interested in working for the company and why are you leaving your current company. When you prepare your answers to these questions, make sure you blend in what’s important to them.
If they ask you about what you want to do in your career, talk in long-term language as they don’t normally want someone who will look for their next step in 6 to 12 months. Remember they are trying to fill THIS role and not be a stepping stone to fill the next role at another company.
7. Share the love
If you like the sound of the opportunity, make sure you tell them that at the end of the interview. Often you might be very keen but you’re understandably nervous and this might make you seem not as enthusiastic as you feel on the inside...where it really matters!
You are afforded a small window to make a lasting impression and landing that dream job! Don’t waste it and you will find yourself making it rain with great offers.
Are you at the end of the road with your current job and want the chance to put these great interview tips to good use? Then check out our latest and greatest jobs today.