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1. Research, research, research
An in-depth knowledge of the history, background and culture of the company are all vital when considering a role. You will most likely have done a fair bit of research prior to your application. But now is the time to really hit the books and overload on the geekiness. Knowing a company inside out will not only impress your interviewer, it’ll also give you confidence on the day to be totally familiar with the purpose of every department and how they would impact on your position within the company. Of course Googling is the best place to start but also look a little deeper. Trawl through LinkedIn, see how you’re connected to employees and approach them for advice if you can. Search on YouTube for any corporate videos or employee interviews that have been conducted. Also see what others are saying about the business on social media, and try to talk to as many people as you can about them.
2. Analyse the job description
Once you’ve completed the company research, now is the time to dissect the job description. Go through it with a fine toothcomb, carefully preparing considered answers as to how you show the desired qualities. Write a couple of words down for each point, but be careful not to script your responses. No interviewer will respond well to scripted answers.
3. Always give examples
Any point you make in your interview, always try to back up with real-life examples. Think about how and when you have demonstrated key qualities and skills and try not to wait to be asked to explain. For example, “I am an excellent negotiator” could be far more impactful if phrased “my negotiating skills are exemplary. Last year I brokered a deal with an overseas investor worth £2 million...” Think about how you have shown flexibility in a role or examples of when your skills have been put to the test.
4. Break the ice
Remember the whole point of a job interview is to see if you are the right fit for a role and a company, and equally as importantly if this is the right company for you. This is an opportunity for the interviewer to get to know a little about your personality, so try to engage in conversation right from the outset, striking the right balance between personable and professional, and being too over-familiar. Try to have a line prepared that will engage the interviewer when you first meet. For example, ‘I used to work just around the corner from here’ will open a conversation far more effectively than ‘cold day, isn’t it’. Never lie, however. You will always get caught out.
Easier said than done. Remember, your interviewer could be even more nervous than you, so just try to ease yourself into it. Don’t overdo the coffee beforehand as this will only add fuel your nervous energy or anxiety. Breathing exercises can be an easy and effective way of calming your nerves before heading into your interview. Also, don’t be afraid to pause after you are asked a question, or even in-between sentences. And remember, despite how hard it may be, try not to smoke before your interview. A strong smell of smoke can be off-putting and give a negative first impression.
6. Dress appropriately
Through your research you will have ascertained much about the culture of the company and expectations placed on employers. Always dress smartly, but appropriately. For some companies business dress will be the everyday norm, whereas for others a more casual approach will suffice. Again, LinkedIn will be a good resource, or social media pictures of the team on the job.
7. Think carefully about whether you have ‘any questions’
A couple of specific questions relating to the detail of the role and your responsibilities will be welcomed by your interviewer and demonstrate your eagerness. Again, try and pre-empt the direction of the conversation. Consider what you hope to achieve in five or 10 years and incorporate this.
8. Be sure to follow up
Make sure you keep in touch with your recruiter after your interview. It’s best to keep them informed as to how you think the interview went. We can then ask for feedback from the client and progress towards the second stage of the interview process.
Finally, good luck. Interviews can be stressful situations, but this is your one opportunity to find out if this is the right place for you to work. And if things go slightly awry, remember it’s never as bad as you think!