Date: 14 March 2019
Almost everyday I have the pleasure of chatting with great candidates and running through interview preparation with them. So here are just a few pieces of advice to help you ace your next big interview.
If you’re working with an agency the chances of you getting to an interview stage without knowing about the company are extremely slim. However, with candidates who apply directly, you’d be surprised how many people have no idea about what their potential employer does, their biggest challenges, or who their main competitors are. So the first piece of advice I always give to any interviewee is to do some serious research.
Find out about the company and its place in the market. Don’t just look on the company website and its social media, also look at news articles, Glassdoor and any other sources you can find. If the company is in the early stages of a merger, or could be in line for extra funding, this could give you great material for questions to ask later in the interview.
Know who you’re meeting. Find out from HR / the job description who you’ll be meeting for your interview. You can search for the members of staff on LinkedIn to get an idea of what professional background they’ve come from. Being as prepared as possible not only helps to beat the nerves, but it also allows you to focus your research on who will be in the room.
2. Prepare your answers
You should always practice and prepare for the question and answer portion of your interview, and while you can’t always predict what will be asked there are some questions that do often come up. For example:
“Tell me about yourself” “What do you know about the company?” “What do you understand about the role?”
Your answers should be succinct and clear and last anywhere between 1 - 3 minutes. Of course, timings are not a science, so the most important thing is to make sure that you explain as much as you need to without waffling.
The standard UK interviewing technique is based on competency, and the best way to answer those questions are with the STAR method. The STAR method (situation, stask, action and result) is a formulaic way of answering questions to ensure you clearly and professionally explain your duties and actions.
For example, if the Hiring Manager said “Tell me about a time you’ve had to solve a complex issue”, the STAR method would come into play like this:
Situation = When I worked for COMPANY X as an X, NEGATIVE was happening which was having a troubling effect on X. This couldn't continue and needed to remedied by DATE.
Task = My goal was to remedy the NEGATIVE situation and X and X by DATE.
Action = I increased X and carried out X and successfully managed to X by changing suppliers and X. This was done 2 months before DATE.
Result = X went up by 50%, X was decreased, NEGATIVE was solved and stakeholder engagement was maintained. Measures were also put in place to stop NEGATIVE happening again. This was widely agreed to be a success.
3. Dress for the occasion
No matter whether the position is at JP Morgan or a cool new start-up, I always advise candidates to dress business-smart for an interview. I understand the temptation some candidates feel to emulate the everyday dress code of staff at the office, and if the staff usually wear jeans and a shirt they feel that they should wear something similar to interview.
However, what you wear at interview can say a lot about how you view the role, the interviewee and even yourself. By wearing a smart outfit and putting an effort into your appearance, you’re showing that you respect the hiring manager for inviting you to interview, and you respect your own time as a professional. Often times a relaxed dress code is a benefit offered to employees, but this doesn’t always extend to candidates.
It’s far better to be a little overdressed at an interview, than to be the one candidate that shows up underdressed. So always dress smart, unless told otherwise by the company.
4. Be engaged
The interview begins the moment you walk into the building. Engage with the receptionist, study the environment and any materials around you. Prove your team fit-ability by starting a pleasant conversation with whomever comes to collect you. Small talk has its place, and the ability to make polite conversation is an important tool for most jobs.
5. Ask intelligent questions
On one of my first days in the job I heard my boss giving a great piece of advice to a candidate; “if you can take your question to any job interview, at any company, then it’s a bad question.”
The questions you ask are not only a great way to discover more about the role and the company, they’re also an indicator for hiring manager to gauge your interest in the role. If you’ve taken the time to think of intelligent, specific questions (perhaps alternatives for different officials in the room, depending on their expertise) this shows that you’re engaged in the role and you’re intelligent enough to do your research. Hundreds of people can apply for any one role and dozens of people could be shortlisted for interview, so in order to stand out you need to leave a positive lasting impression on your potential manager.
6. Express your interest
Most candidates will close an interview by thanking the interviewer for their time. This is of course the correct thing to do, however I also advise that if at an end of an interview the candidate is sure they want the job, express it. Thank the interviewer for their time and tell them that you’re very excited about the role and you could really see yourself working for their team. The difference between two amazing candidates with equal experience and qualifications could well be their interest in the role, so make sure when you leave the interview the Hiring Manager knows you’re interested.
RoCHe Recruitment - Supply Chain, Logistics and Procurement specialists.