When seeking a new position, whether you’re a fresh graduate or have experience in the industry, you’ll find there’s a lot of competition from similar candidates seeking the same role. How do you make sure you’re best prepared when you manage to secure interviews for the position you really want?
Looking for employment can be hard work regardless of what your situation is. If you’re in employment and looking to make the move, you need to find the time to take calls and follow up on emails to discuss positions as well as prepare to attend different stage interviews. If you’ve been made redundant, you want to secure the best role that suits your skills ASAP. And if it’s your first time seeking an opportunity in the industry having just completed your degree or other qualifications, you have a lot of candidates fighting to secure the same desirable position in the industry.
A first interview is your opportunity to stand out to the potential employer regardless of whether it’s a telephone, Skype or face to face interview. You need to do your research and prepare to make the best impression to ensure you get called back. You don’t want to waste the chance to show what you could offer and regret it afterwards when you don’t secure your dream job.
Key points to prepare:
Get the company website for the correct site or division you would be working for and read through all the relevant pages to understand exactly what the company do and their background / history / company size.
Find their latest projects or newest product range as a talking point for the interview to impress.
Know your audience – talk to friends or people you know that could help you with additional information on the company itself or who you are interviewing with. Learn about their position in the company and their background if they’ve worked their way up internally and progressed. Use social media like Twitter and LinkedIn but don’t try to add as connections until you’ve met them and know them better.
If you aren’t supplied with a full job description, ask for one! – you want all the information that is available! There are certain positions or companies which don’t supply detailed job descriptions so if this is the case make sure you know what skills or experience is essential for the role to use this as a talking point.
Look for similarities between job experiences you have had before so you can show what transferable skills you have to the role you are interviewing for. You could have worked with softwares or programmes that are very relevant or worked on projects where the responsibilities are the same as expected in the role you’re applying for.
Make sure you have questions to ask to show your interest and clear up any points you are unsure of. Make sure these are project, team and skills based as opposed to asking about the salary or benefits side of things at the initial stage. Keep it focused on the position itself!
Also make sure you are ready for questions. Take an up to date copy of your CV so you can discuss past positions if asked and the time you were employed there. Be prepared to discuss your strengths and weaknesses and tell them more about yourself, ensure you sell yourself as you do.
Ask if you need to take anything with you or prepare anything to present with enough notice so you don’t rush. With a presentation, ensure you put the time in and make sure it is clear and concise. If you are asked to take ID with you or fill out application forms make sure you do it as it shows you follow requests well and shows your interest in joining their company.
It is always worth taking along work examples / portfolios whether you are asked or not as it shows initiative and helps sell your skills over other applicants. It is also an extra talking point in the interview that other candidates may not have.
Dress to impress. Even if you are coming straight from work, take a spare change of clothes to change into and present yourself well. A suit and tie helps to present you to your full potential and it again shows you’ve made the effort and are serious about the opportunity.
Ask if there will be a technical test / technical aspect to the interview. Knowing in advance means you don’t panic and you can brush up on your skills the week before to ensure you are comfortable in the interview.
Get to the interview on time but not too early as it can make interviewers feel rushed. 10 minutes before is ideal as it gives you time to sign in and shows your time keeping skills.
With permanent positions particularly, having the correct skills are important, but also having the right personality and drive to fit into the existing team is too. Make sure you relax, as coming across too nervous could mean you don’t stand out as much as the next person. Pre-interview anxiety is very common and happens to a lot of people, especially when you are extremely keen on getting a certain job. Get to the interview with enough time so you aren’t rushing and make sure you be yourself to show your character so they know how you’ll fit into their team.
The main aim of each interview you attend is to convey that you are the right choice for the job and to leave the best impression so you are remembered when you leave. Treat each interview like it’s your ideal position and you could have a few offers to choose from!
Charlotte Allen – Lead Consultant