Jobseekers: How to Interview Like the Best
Every month we see candidates who are great on paper but who cannot get a job offer (until we help them) and others who appear comparatively weak on paper but get offers from every client they interview at!
Is it a lottery? No. Once you get an interview, your skills and achievements become of secondary importance to how well you present yourself in person. The good news is that if interviewing doesn’t come naturally to you then it is a skill that is easily coached and, once we learn a candidate would appreciate help, we can usually quickly get the offers flooding in.
If you would like a quick refresher on how to interview well then read on.
Step 1: Prepare Professionally
The most critical success factor in excelling at interview is preparation. Here’s how to approach it:
- Review the job description – highlight the skills and experience the employer stated they were looking for in the job description.
- Match their wishlist with your experience – identify relevant examples from your career that match the skills and experience you just highlighted.
- Practice describing your examples – employers are looking for results not activity so think about how to articulate the outcomes of what you did. Learn to communicate in terms of the business/ organisational impact that you had.
- Learn about the company – understand what the employer does, review its latest news and office locations and learn a little about the industry if you don’t know it. Your recruitment consultant can help with this.
- Prepare for common questions – find a list of the most common interview questions (your recruitment consultant can provide one) and prepare answers to them. Think about any discrepancies between your LinkedIn profile and your CV, any gaps on your CV and expect questions about challenges you have faced; how you achieved certain things etc.
- Prepare questions for the employer – interviewing is a two-way process. You should prepare a few questions that you would like the employer to answer – if you are unsure run these past your recruitment consultant to check they are appropriate.
- Go the extra mile – your recruiter will often be able to tell you who will be conducting the interview and the style it is likely to take; whether it will be more about you and your experience or a test of your technical skills. If you know who the interviewers are then review their profiles on LinkedIn etc.
Step 2: Interview like the best
Having done your preparation it is important to enter the interview in the right frame of mind. You would be amazed how often a candidate turns up late, at the wrong place or on the wrong day! Double-check when you need to be where and that your outfit fits and is clean. Keep a pack containing the job descriptions, copies of your CV and questions you want to ask employers that you can take to interviews with you.
- Be professional – be polite and professional with everyone you meet.
- Start on the right foot – greet your interviewers standing. Many people still expect a firm handshake and eye contact. This may be uncomfortable for you of them, but it's still generally expected. Just do your best.
- Answer the question – nothing rings alarm bells with an interviewer like evasive behaviour. Answer questions directly, concisely and with confidence. If you don’t know the answer say so rather than waffling. Don’t be afraid to take a moment to think before you respond.
- The exit – when leaving the interview shake hands with the interviewer and reaffirm your interest in the role (if it's true!) Having left the interview call your recruitment consultant to let them know how it went. They will be able raise any concerns you had during the interview with the employer and get feedback on your performance.
We are here to help you find the right job, so if we can help then ask.
Contact us now for a free, no-obligation chat. Contact Clare here.
Clare Wight is the founder and Managing Director of Clarity Appointments, an independent recruitment specialist. She served as a Regional Director for The Employment Agents Movement, supporting other independent recruiters.
She remains an active member of Recconnect (formerly Members Only), a recruitment leadership network promoting high ethical standards, collaboration, diversity, equity and inclusion.
She believes business owners are more fulfilled and higher-performing when they provide emotional and professional business support to other business owners, even those they deem to be competitors. She does this actively, whilst challenging and updating her skills and knowledge of the recruitment sector, enabling her to offer the best advice to firms looking to make their next hire.