The key to successfully getting the job you want is all in the preparation. You’re competing against other candidates, so how you prepare and how you impress your prospective employer will make all the difference in standing out. The average interview time is one hour, so it’s crucial that you’re well prepared. To help you ace your next interviews below are some of our top tips on;
- Researching the company
- Preparing for interview questions
- On the day checklist
Although you’ll be fully briefed by our recruitment colleague about the company and the person who will be interviewing you, it’s also beneficial for you to do some thorough research yourself.
Start by visiting the company’s website and social media pages to get a feel of the company culture, values, their history and their future goals. Glassdoor reviews from previous employers can also be helpful. See if the company has recently been in the news, had articles published and find out who their competitors are. By learning as much as possible about the company, you’ll be able to demonstrate your interest in the role through your research and form some questions to ask at the end of your interview.
The interview is your opportunity to broadcast your qualities which cannot be assessed from your CV. It’s your chance to truly sell yourself, so think about all the relevant qualities that you possess that fit the role.
Re-read the job description to see what the employer is looking for – keywords like team player, approachable, professional, attention-to-detail, organised are great starting points to describe yourself.
Imagine what it would be like to be working at the company and what skills, experience, qualifications the employer is looking for. Provide positive information that shows what you can do for the employer.
As a starting point, here’s a top 10 list of frequently asked interview questions:
1. Tell me about yourself
This is an opportunity to outline your attributes, your strengths and accomplishments that might be suitable for the role. Don’t just reel off what’s on your CV and don’t worry if the interviewer remains silent when you pause.
2. What qualifies you for this job?
Employers want to know your background and experience. Prepare some success stories as examples of what you’ve achieved, or how you’ve done in the past. Start with the biggest achievement to make an immediate impression.
3. Why do you want to work for this organisation?
According to one survey, 75% of interviewers are put off by candidates that are unfamiliar with their organisation. This is where your preparatory research about the company will help demonstrate what you know about the company. Ensure you talk about the positive points about the company.
4. Why do you wish to leave your present job?
Avoid saying anything negative about your present or previous employers and don’t mention money as a motivator. Employers want to feel they are interviewing people who want to work for their brand because of what their brand offers, not by default of it ‘not being your current place of work’. Indicate a desire for greater responsibility and challenge, or talk about how you want the opportunity to use your talents and abilities more in a new workplace.
5. Where do you see yourself in 1, 2 or 3 years’ time?
Replying ‘in your chair!’ or mentioning any specific goals can be risky as it may sound arrogant or misaligned with the career paths of the organisation. Frame your response so that it shows how motivated you are about the role. Something like ‘I would hope that by then my hard work and enthusiasm would have led to increased recognition and responsibility within this organisation’.
6. What sort of salary are you looking for?
When talking about money, describe the salary range that the job is worth. Many companies use your current salary as a benchmark (which will include basic pay, bonuses and any extras) but if you don’t want to answer this question, try and steer your answer to something like ‘based on my experience and research of other similar positions in this area, I’m looking for a salary range of (figure).
7. What are your weaknesses? / What’s the worst problem you’ve ever faced?
The best ‘weaknesses’ are those that help you reveal your strengths, such as ‘I dislike not being busy or challenged at work’ or minor weaknesses that aren’t relevant to the role. Keep your answer to one weakness and mention how you’re overcoming this weakness.
If you’re asked about what the worst problem you’ve ever faced is, then restrict your answer to workplace problems and avoid talking about personal problems or blaming others. Pick a problem that you’ve solved and describe how you overcame them. Show yourself to be a good team player by crediting co-workers for their contributions and provide an example of how you analysed and learned from your mistakes.
8. What are your strengths?
Highlight the qualities that will help you succeed in this particular job. Give examples and quantify how your strengths benefited your previous employers. By demonstrating reliability and the ability to stick to difficult tasks without giving up, you will impress your interviewers.
9. How would you describe a typical day in your current job?
Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes when answering. What is it that they want to know?
Rather than exaggerating your current position, show that you are detail-orientated or a good multi-tasker by talking about some of the routine tasks in your day, the importance of paperwork or how thorough you are at planning and organising your time. How do you plan your tasks at the beginning of the day and how do you review your achievements at the end of the day?
10. Do you have any questions?
Remember the interview is a two-way process and if you get the job, you’ll need to know whether it suits your lifestyle or meets your expectations.
Avoid asking about holidays and other benefits at this stage. However, if you don’t ask the right questions, you may not have another opportunity to cover things that are important to you such as:
- What’s the most important purpose of this position?
- What’s the most important quality you’re looking for from the successful applicant?
- Who would I be reporting to / working with?
- How many people are in the team / company?
- How does this role contribute to the business goals?
- What are the long-term opportunities in this company?
- What do you like most about working for this company?
- What training opportunities are there?
- How will the performance of this role be measured?
On the day – A checklist for the interview
So you’re all ready and prepped with your answers and questions for the big day. Don’t forget that there are 4 more very important things you need to pre-prepare for;
Make sure you know the full address of the organisation and the name of the person who you are meeting. Check the location on a map in advance and maybe even practice the journey prior to the interview if you can.
Arrive a few minutes early so that you have time to compose yourself and feel comfortable in the surroundings. It can help relieve nerves and reduce tension if you have time to sit in reception and breathe deeply and slowly for a minute or two.
It is also worth noting that secretaries and receptionists may be asked subsequently for their impression of you, so treat everyone you meet with politeness and warmth.
2. Attire & Accessories
Make sure you wear something clean, smart, ironed or non-creased that you feel comfortable in. Think about taking a notepad and pen so that you can take notes and politely ask for a glass of water before starting your interview. And don’t forget to switch of your mobile phone before you enter the building!
3. Body Language
First impressions last, so don’t forget to make eye contact and give a confident handshake. Don’t overdo the charm and flattery either. Remember to: Make eye contact throughout the interview Be aware of your hands and arms (don’t fidget) Keep an upright posture Communicate your interest in the position Listen carefully to the interviewer
Make sure you don’t leave the interview without knowing when you will get a decision or if there will be further interviews. If, at any time you weren’t able to answer a question, don’t panic. It’s always better to admit you are unsure of something but that you will now do your best to address the issue. Honesty is always the best policy. Being positive, confident and pleasant means you will have done your best! Please remember to ring your recruitment partner after the interview to give feedback. It is very important that we speak to you as soon as possible after an interview so we can convey your interest to the client