When it comes to job interviews, preparation is a must. We've outlined below some key tips to help you ace that interview and win that dream job!
Identifying yourself as the perfect candidate
Interviews are always varied, do not necessarily follow a set pattern and cannot easily be categorised or stereotyped. However, our experience of successful interviews, along with feedback from our clients and candidates, indicates that your chances of success will be enhanced if you bear in mind some common themes.
Your main goal during an interview is to convince the hiring manager that you are the ideal
person for the available position. Often you might have an hour to differentiate yourself
from 4 or 5 other applicants but how can you accomplish this without allowing the
inevitable nervousness to seep in? A little bit of preparation can go a long way.
Describe the ideal candidate
Before the interview, sit down and spend some time writing out a detailed description of
what you think the ideal candidate would be for the job. Don’t describe yourself or why you
think you would be perfect, instead honestly describe the position and what characteristics
would create the best person for that position. Try to put yourself in the mindset of the
hiring manager and think of what you would look for in the perfect candidate.
Structure your characteristics
Now that you have an idea of what the ideal candidate for the position would be, you can
re-frame your experiences and characteristics to fit in with these needs. Using the job
description that the company has provided, along with your detailed description, consider
all of your own characteristics and skills and reword them to better fit these descriptions.
For example, if the company description called for the worker to have the “ability to
motivate others” as a key attribute, you can emphasize your leadership skills, adding
examples of how your past leadership experiences motivated others. When structuring your
characteristics, think of how your experiences can be worded to appeal to the company.
Develop a “Proof” list
You want to convince the hiring manager that you can handle the job at hand. Print out the
list of required skills that accompanies the job description and review it carefully. Beside
each item, identify an experience that you have had that illustrates your ability to handle
such a skill. You don’t have to make a perfect match, but be able to explain the connection
during your interview. This will show the employer that you thoroughly understand the
requirements of the role and possess the necessary skills to fulfill them.
Create “Sound Bites”
Sound bites are very short phrases meant to highlight your best attributes. Like bullet points
on a note card, the sound bites will act as key points to remember so that you can elaborate
on them with a compelling story during the interview. You may not remember every
instance during your working career (especially if it’s a long one), so sound bites will help
pinpoint the key events and achievements necessary to support your credentials. Make
these sound bites attention catching and informational.
Your online reputation
An online name search is a common aspect of virtually every interview today. Your hiring
manager is probably going to run your name through the search engine a couple of times
even before the interview; so, it is important that you develop and maintain a positive
online reputation. This doesn’t mean that you need to flood the internet with reviews and
blogs about yourself, but you do need to make sure that what shows up when your name is
searched is positive and flattering. It is crucial to keep social media platforms in mind when
searching for a job. Know that not only your LinkedIn page but also your Twitter feed and
Facebook accounts are fair game for those considering hiring you. Even if they are set to
private, there are ways for search engines to get past this and see everything. Make sure
you are comfortable with having everything you have posted being read.
Research the company
Click your way around their corporate website, if it’s a group of companies look at the wider
group and see how this part of the business is likely to connect with the other business
units. Print out or write down their core values, understand their market(s), their main
competitor(s) and their history. Wikipedia pages often give a good run down and can help
with larger companies, but be careful as they are an open source, so check any facts!
Plan your route
Use Google Maps to plan your route and street view to take note of junctions and signs to
look out for as you get close. Scope out local street parking or multi-storey car park
locations if on-site parking isn’t available or check public transport time tables carefully.
Allow plenty of time for the journey and aim to arrive at least ten minutes early; this may
give you a chance to read company literature which is often kept in the reception area.
Things to bring with you
Take an up to date copy of your CV to the interview, a notepad and pen to take notes and to
write down any questions you might have so that you don’t forget to ask at the end. Prepare
a list of questions you would like to have answered by the end of the interview and tick
them off as you go; if you’ve answered them all by the end then show them the list, it looks
much better than just saying it!
SOME FURTHER TIPS FOR YOUR INTERVIEW
Dress appropriately for the interview. Rightly or wrongly, all kinds of opinions are formed
and assumptions made on the appearance people present - usually with immediate effect.
The first few minutes are vital when you meet the interviewer. The first impression can be
the one that lasts. Greet the interviewer with a smile and a strong handshake. From
reception to the office, talk and relax, relieving the interviewer of the onus of starting the
During the interview, DO NOT avoid eye contact with the interviewer. Look and act alert and
interested and don’t slouch in your chair or sit too casually. It is important to avoid one
word answers, especially NO! Smile where appropriate and show enthusiasm for the
company and position.
An interview is a sales situation. You are selling yourself; therefore it is important that you
find out what the interviewer is looking for. Don't forget, however, that it is also a sales
situation for the company - your opportunity to get the information you want from them.
Ask questions and show a real interest in the position and the company, perhaps based on
the information you previously received about them. Aim for questions that indicate an
interest in their line of work or products and your enthusiasm and interest in the role itself,
rather than holiday entitlement, pensions etc.
As the interview draws to a close, if you are interested in the position, it is important that
you let the interviewer know you are keen. Ensure that you are clear on what the next step
in the interview procedure is by finding out when you will know the result.
Please call us within 30 minutes of coming out of the interview. We will call you back if
necessary. This is important so that we can get immediate feedback to the client and then
contact you with their thoughts.
Confirm the salary and benefits with your recruitment consultant prior to the interview
rather than ask at the interview. By leaving your consultant to negotiate on your behalf you
will often end up with a more comprehensive offer.
Remember that honesty really is the best policy and if you can't answer a question, be
honest Don't criticise your previous employers or colleagues and try not to dwell on any
negative issues. Ask when you'll be given a decision and when you can expect to hear from
Show your manners and thank the interviewer for seeing you!