Article By Ceri Wheeldon
With the employment market being extremely competitive, it is essential to prepare thoroughly for every single interview. A job interview offers you an opportunity to change your life, so planning, preparation, confidence, presentation and attitude are key to impressing any employer.
Preparing for the interview
Research the company thoroughly – the more you know about the company, its background, locations, recent acquisitions, deals won , recent advertising campaigns,and main competitors the more you can impress the employer with your knowledge. You will also be better placed to determine how your background might fit in to the organisation and how you can ‘sell’ the benefits you are able to offer. Also look up the names of your interviewers on google, linkedin, facebook- you may see how their careers developed- are there any parallels between theirs and your own? I’ve had situations where candidates for roles have discovered they have attended the same schools or worked for the same companies in previous roles.
Make sure you have a copy of the job description and think carefully about how your skills and experience fit with the requirements of the role.
Prepare answers to questions you think you might be asked. Think of examples where you can highlight your skills/abilities. Double check any numbers eg sales targets you have achieved, budgets you’ve been responsible for, size of teams. Ask if you will be required to give a presentation during the interview and if so what tools will be available for you to use ( powerpoint, white board etc).
Prepare questions you would like to ask about the role, the company and your prospects should it be offered to you.
If you haven’t had any interviews for a while ‘practice’ with friends. It might sound strange, but if necessary ‘practice’ your handshake – you don’t want to shake hands so tightly that any interviewer thinks he/she might have ‘lost’ a finger or two, but nor do you want to shake hands so limply that it implies lack of confidence.
Take sufficient copies of your CV with you just in case the interviewer/interviewers don’t have their copies to hand, together with any copies of certificates. Some companies also ask to see copy of your passport to be sure that you are the person they’re expecting to interview.
Presentation is important at interviews
You only have one chance to make a first impression at your interview. Think ahead about how you are going to dress. Do you need to have your hair cut, roots redone, nails manicured ? Make sure your shoes are shiny – no scuffed toes or heels! Also be wary of wearing strong perfume.
Planning for your interview
Make sure you know the precise location ahead of time, if driving do they have parking available? If you are using public transport check timetables ahead of time and allow plenty of time for train cancellations etc. Take your taxi fare with you just in case you have a problem. Make sure you have names and contact numbers with you just in case something outside your control prevents you from getting there on time. Try to get there early in order to compose yourself.
Be Confident at your interview
If you’ve prepared thoroughly and know that you have the skills to do the job, you should nothing to worry about. If you want to give yourself an extra ‘lift’, something as simple as a new lipstick or having your hair professionally blow-dried could make all the difference to how you feel when you walk into the room. Remember to make eye contact and smile!
You must be positive and indicate to the interviewer that you want the job. It is important to come across as professional, capable and somebody others would like to work with.
Don’t be negative about your previous roles or employers. Talk not only about what you have done, but also what you feel you can offer in the future
Having spent more than 20 years as a headhunter, it has always amazed me when I have met people who have been willing to give up a substantial part of their day to attend an interview, and yet have made little or no effort to understand what the role actually is, or even if it is a job they want to do. Preparation is key if you want to make a good first and lasting impression at interview.
Ceri Wheeldon has worked as a headhunter for 25 years and also offers a jobsearch coaching service.