The interview is arguably the most important part of the recruitment process and that’s why it is essential that you prepare and invest time to ensure you are the best you can be at the interview.
According to a Harvard Business Review Study, 90% of successful hires are decided solely upon the interview. Furthermore 63% of hiring decisions are made within the first five minutes of an interview (Courtesy of SHRM).
The following tips will help you have a more productive and successful interview:
- Research the company and their financials.
- Thoroughly review the job specifications.
- Know the logistics – Time, location, interviewer’s name and position title. (if applicable check their LinkedIn profile)
- Plan your day so that you are not rushed, preoccupied or lack sleep.
- Arrive 10-15 minutes early. Being late to an interview is inexcusable.
- Ensure that you are well groomed, with clean, pressed clothes.
- Ensure that your briefcase or handbag is clean and neat.
- Ensure that you have a pen and pad with you, in order to take notes.
- Be professional, when you meet them shake hands with everyone in the meeting. If this is something you don’t do regularly, practice before you go to the meeting. This can be the decider on whether you get the job or not. Don’t break their arm, but equally don’t be too gentle. Smile and make sure you maintain eye contact.
- Ask questions; an interview should be a mutual exchange of information, not a one-sided conversation.
- If you are not sure how much detail the interviewer wishes you to go into, clarify with them. It’s always better to check than to give a 20 minute statement when the client expected a 2 minute overview.
- Relate your skills and background to the position requirements throughout the interview. Wherever possible, utilise the STAR method i.e. describe a Situation, outline the Tasks you took to overcome them what you Achieved and what the ultimate Results were. In most cases you will be aware prior to the interview what you are going to be questioned about, so rehearse and practice various scenarios to ensure you answer questions succinctly and effectively.
- It’s expected that you will have questions to ask, so ensure that you have them prepared prior to the interview. At virtually any level they will consider this a poor meeting if you don’t have questions to ask them about their business, products or future challenges. If you have done your research these should be easy to pull together.
- Give your qualifications and focus on accomplishments that are most applicable to the job.
- Anticipate tough questions and prepare to turn perceived weaknesses into strengths using the STAR methodology.
- Listen and concentrate not only on the interviewer’s words, but also on the tone of voice and body language. Once you understand the Interviewer’s style you can answer your questions accordingly.
- Answer vague questions by responding based on assumptions. Ask the interviewer to clarify or focus questions so that you can provide responses that answer their questions.
- Interrupt the interviewer. If you don’t listen, the interviewer won’t either.
- If meeting on a more social footing , don’t drink alcohol or smoke even if the Interviewer does. You need to remain on top form throughout the process. Don’t relax too much, otherwise your demeanour and response to questions will be affected. Some Interviewers like to do this and can send a ‘killer question’ that you may struggle to answer.
- Ramble. Overlong answers are not received well.
- Lie or embellish facts, accomplishments or qualifications. Answer questions truthfully.
- Express resentment. Avoid derogatory remarks about present or former employers.
- Discuss salary and other needs at the first interview. You and your Executive Search Consultant will discuss these items prior to your interview.
A few things to remember during the closing process
Make sure that you have thoroughly answered these questions during the interview: “Why are you interested in our company?”, “What can you offer?” and “What is the added value you will bring to our company?”
Also your own questions: “What would my working relationship be with this Manager?” “What would I enjoy about working for this company?” “What are my future career prospects going to be?”
Don’t expect an offer to be made or a specific salary to be discussed during your first interview.
After your interview, follow-up is critical:
- Attempt to write down key issues uncovered in the interview.
- Think of the qualifications the employer is looking for; did you match your strengths to them?
- Note the positive/negative aspects of the interview, as well as any concerns you may have.
You should call your Executive Search Consultant as soon as possible after the interview to discuss your thoughts, questions and interest.
At this stage you are virtually saying ‘I want to work with this person, in this job, for this company; and this role will give me the new challenge I’m looking for. My family are happy with this potential new career.
Considerations you should make in preparing for the second meeting are:
Exactly the same as the first interview; investigate the new people you will be meeting, too. Recheck any news updates and financial reports that may have been announced since your last meeting.
- Ensure that you are equally prepared for the second set of people you will meet from the company
- Have your unanswered questions ready for this meeting to ensure that they are fully answered at this interview.
- Ensure your Executive Search Consultant is fully aware of the salary and benefits package that you are looking for. Make sure that this has been facilitated prior to the meeting.
- Ensure that you know exactly what you need to know in order to accept this role before you go into meet them for this second meeting.
- Be prepared for the potential of an offer at this meeting, and ensure you have an answer prepared, should this occur
- Be overly familiar even if you are meeting the same people again; be more relaxed but still on ‘your toes’.
- Drink alcohol or smoke even if meeting for dinner and your Interviewer does.
- Expect the meeting to be exactly the same as the first meeting. You may be meeting more senior or technical staff with a totally different approach and outlook.
Above all, preparation is still the key to a successful second interview. Research the role, organisation, prepare evidence and examples of your skills and experience and ultimately be yourself.