Pre-event training: do your research
Quality research is essential if you want to impress. Usain Bolt wouldn’t show up to an Olympic final without preparing. The different elements of his training regime come together to ensure that on race day, he’s in top condition to beat his rivals. A job interview is exactly the same.
Look at the job description. Consider each point in detail. Write down relevant examples from your career so they remain at the front of your mind. If you haven’t had direct experience of a specific task, is there anything you’ve done that’s indirectly related? How can you convey a genuine interest and passion for the new task?
Research the company website thoroughly. Investigate who the senior managers are. Find out about their background. Where possible, do the same for your interviewers. Which countries does the company operate in? Does it hold subsidiaries? Use search engines to find the latest news.
Talk to people in your industry and take advantage of connections on social networking sites to gain further information about the organisation. An insight into company culture and general management style can be invaluable at interview.
Interview preparation: the warm up
You need to wear the right kit. If you’re not sure exactly what’s appropriate, overdress.
On the day, arrive with plenty of time, so you can go for a coffee nearby and ‘warm up’. This is a good time to do a last minute run-through of your research material, or you may prefer to relax and collect your thoughts before the interview. You need to be in the right frame of mind to give your best.
Arrive at the venue around five minutes early. Any later or earlier can create a bad impression. Your interviewer’s probably very busy so might not appreciate you being early, while lateness is not an attractive quality in a potential employee. If you’re late, ensure you call ahead.
Although this may sound obvious, people often get it wrong. You want to come across as confident, poised and up for the job. If you don’t warm up properly, you risk coming across as flustered and/or unsure of yourself.
Game day: your interview
You’ve prepared thoroughly, you feel confident and everything’s in place. Now, go out there and perform.
Spring quickly out the blocks and get off to a flying start – bad starts can be difficult to recover from. When you meet your interviewer, greet them confidently with a firm handshake and make eye contact.
The key to a successful interview is bringing your CV to life. While you’ll need to do this in a professional, confident and persuasive manner, employers look for people who can explain in detail about the experience they have and how this is directly relevant to the job on offer.
During the interview, use real world examples and relate each answer back to something you have done in the past. Come armed with strengths, but also think about your weaknesses and – when pressed – speak about measures you will take to overcome these. Always be succinct, keeping your answers relevant and to the point.
Convey a genuine passion for the job and interest in the company throughout. When you’re given the opportunity to ask questions – typically at the end – this is a great chance to show your enthusiasm for the position on offer.
Your questions should be very specific about the role and company, which is where your original research comes in. Do not ask about the salary/compensation package on offer in the first meeting as, at this point, you’re trying to prove your interest in the position.
Post-interview: warm down
Feed back to your recruiter asap – it’s important to let them know your feelings about how the interview went. If you feel you didn’t give your best performance on one particular question and have concerns about how your answer was received, you can convey this to your recruiter who can then discuss it with the interviewer. If you have otherwise impressed, this conversation can really help your cause.
If you have secured the interview yourself, it’s generally considered good manners to write a brief thank you e-mail to the interviewer(s) providing they have given you their contact information.