Congratulations! You have managed to secure an interview and now you are having sleepless nights worrying that you will mess things up. You may not have had an interview for a while, or experienced recent rejections. Do not worry. Here is our 13-point plan to make sure this next interview will be outstanding!
Before the interview, you need to do some research.
- Research – Find out who is going to interview you and look them up on the company website and any professional social platforms. This will help you get an impression of their work and an insight into the questions they may want to ask you, so you can prepare some answers. If it is someone in the team you will be working with, they may want to probe your technical skills and qualifications, if it is someone in a senior management role, they might be assessing how you will fit in to the company direction and culture.
Research the company on their social media, their website and review sites like Trust Pilot or Google reviews. The Companies House website is a good resource. Also research their competitors (this will show some initiative as they might not have expected you to do this).
- Update your LinkedIn profile so it reflects the job description and qualities that the job advert indicated they are looking for. If you do not have a LinkedIn profile or it is out of date then read our Blog on how you can remedy that. It is also a good idea to check up on your own Facebook or Instagram profiles and make them private or curate the content should there be any red flags that a future employer may find questionable.
- Prepare your “Show-and-Tell” visual aids. It could be a portfolio of your work, or if the interview is being held through Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google then have a digital version in a PowerPoint ready so you can show off your work via a screen share. You may not need it, but it will bring your answers to life. (NB. Make sure that all of your other tabs are closed.)
- Know your CV inside out. It may have been a while between you applying for the post and securing this interview. The hiring manager will have your CV in front of them and will have usually perused the content highlighting phrases, positions or gaps that they would like to bring up when meeting you. So, refresh your memory and know this CV inside out so you are ready to be asked questions on it.
- Brush up on your accomplishments. Reflect on your career so far and think about the aspects, projects or actions you are proud of. Write these down and make sure they are shoe-horned into the conversation. Concentrate on outcomes though. It is not just enough to say: “I did this, and my boss was very happy”. You need to emphasise the outcomes of what you did. If someone can say “So What?” after a statement, you haven’t explained the benefit adequately. So, for example: “I managed a supplier database”, could be rephrased to, “by managing the supplier database I was able to realise £xxx of savings over a period.”
At the interview, this is what you do.
- Give yourself time. If the interview is being held remotely, about 20 minutes before the interview – make sure your tech is working. If the interview is being held face-to-face prepare to arrive 10 minutes before the interview is scheduled.
- Elevator pitch. The first 30 seconds’ count. You should focus on making a good impression throughout the whole interview, but the first 30 seconds is most important. Your interviewer may open with: “what can you tell me about yourself?” or even questions like, “can you walk me through your background?” or, “why should we hire you for this position?” You want to show them early and often that you took the time to read their job description, and that you will be able to step into their job, learn the role quickly, and be successful. This is how you talk about yourself in an interview to stand out. Instead of mentioning everything you’ve done, be selective and think about what is most relevant for the employer’s needs based on the job description. Highlight your achievements and make them fit in with their role.
- Make sure your answers reflect what was laid out in the job description. You need to make it obvious to the interviewer how your skills, qualities and experience match the attributes that are laid out. If you are uncertain about some terminology on the job description, then google it! To show that even if you haven’t use say a certain IT system you understand the basic principles because you have researched it!
- Behavioural or Competency questions. Some interviewers will ask probing questions designed to tease out how you may react in a situation. So, for example: “can you tell me about when you had a disagreement with a colleague in a work environment?” These are followed up with a supplementary question that is designed to pull out your most typical behaviours. “What did you do?” Or “How did you react?” Or “what were the consequences?” When you answer any behavioural question, walk them through the situation you were in, what actions you took, what outcome you achieved, and finally – what you learned from the experience.
- Confident body language. If you are in a physical meeting and they offer you a drink, take it. Observe the social distancing rules, take a mask, and wash your hands before you meet with them. Sit upright with great eye contact, plant your feet on the floor and take a drink and breathe through your nose to settle your nerves. You have got this! Don’t ramble and be concise.
- Show enthusiasm and ask for the job! You would be surprised when we receive feedback on unsuccessful placements that the interviewer will say “they just didn’t seem to be that interested”. Whether it is nerves or complacency, if you want the job, don’t forget to tell your interviewer that you would really love to work for them! Enthusiasm counts.
- Ask questions. You have reached the end of your interview and the people say: “do you have any questions?” Tumbleweed moment… Asking questions is good. You will go a long way towards selling yourself by just asking great questions. You can ask about the company, the job, the group, and opinion-based questions like: “What do you feel is the biggest challenge someone new will face when stepping into this role?”.
- Finally, closing statement – thank you for their time, sum up what you would bring to the role, you could ask: “Is there anything else you think you would like further clarification on or that we haven’t covered already?” Shows confidence even if you are not feeling it! Try and understand what the next stage will be, and timescales involved.
We hope our experience has been helpful to you. At Benjamin Edwards we help dozens of people every day in finding new work in a finance or accountancy position in Lincolnshire and the wider area.
If you want to know more, or have a difficult recruitment issue please do get in touch!
Difficult to talk at work? Then contact us outside of office hours on: 07585035316