The search for a new job and the process of interviewing is a stressful time for many. Hence, it’s no surprise that interviewing is the topic of numerous ‘how to’ articles online, due to its importance in the recruitment process for both employer and candidate alike.
This checklist will help you research the role you’re applying for, prepare for what lies ahead during the interview process and gain the confidence you need to succeed at winning the position:
1. Research the brand and follow them on social media
Ensuring that you’re fully aware of what the business you’re interviewing for does, will avoid a potentially embarrassing situation during your interview. An example of the things that you should be aware of prior to your interview include:
- What are their products/services?
- Who are their competitors?
- What differentiates them from the competition?
- Who are the company Directors?
- What’s the company culture like?
Following the brand on social media is a great way to get a feel for their positioning, values and culture, as well as stay up to date with daily news.
If the business is active on social platforms, then it’s also an opportunity to engage prior to meeting with them face-to-face.
Contributing to discussions, commenting on updates and responding to questions are all great ways to get noticed.
2. Research the role, read and re-read the job description
Make sure you’re happy with, and fully understand, everything regarding the role. If there’s anything that you’re unclear on, then make every effort to find out the answer yourself.
It may be appropriate to ask for clarity during the interview – However, if the answer is something that you should already know, it could have an adverse effect on your chances of success.
— Simply Hired (@SimplyHired) March 4, 2016
Having everything clear in your head about the brand – and specifically the role – will help you to relax and feel confident during the interview, if asked anything about the company.
3. Know the location of your interview
It may sound obvious, but you should know the exact location of the interview (and how to get there) prior to its scheduled date. If you need to take public transport, do you know the various times that you need to arrive at different stations in order to arrive punctually?
It’s a good idea, if practical, to make the journey prior to the actual day of the interview, to make sure you’re happy with the route and timings. This will also be a good indication of whether the commute is realistic to undertake every day, should you succeed in securing the position.
4. Note anything important on your mobile
Be sure to have the name and contact details of the person you’re meeting with on your phone. The vast majority of us don’t leave the house without our mobile and so it’s highly likely that you’ll have the information you need to hand, rather than them being jotted down on a scrap of paper that you’ve left at home.
Other important information such as transport schedules, checklists, etc. should also be noted on your mobile, so as not to be forgotten.
Some great note taking apps include:
5. Take the right things
Make sure you take all relevant information pertaining to the interview with you, e.g. Your CV and any other application process materials.
Are you interviewing for a creative role where you’ll be asked for a sample or portfolio of your work?
It’s better to have it and not be asked, than to be asked and not have it.
First impressions are very important, you only have 7 seconds when meeting the interviewer for the first time to portray a number of things.
Are you trustworthy? Are you personable and friendly? Will you fit into the company culture? These factors are all determined very quickly by the interviewer. Before you even speak, decisions will be made based upon how you look, so dress and groom yourself accordingly.
6. Know the answers and questions
There are certain questions that get asked as standard in almost all interviews, such as “why do you want to work for us?”. You should have an honest, but well constructed answer ready in your head for these. Ten of the most common questions asked in UK interviews are:
- Tell me about yourself?
- What are your key strengths/skills?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Why do you want this job?
- Give me an example of a difficult situation/task at work and how you dealt with it
- Tell me about an achievement you are proud of
- What are your career goals?
- What are your expectations of the salary?
- What do you know about the organisation?
It’s also important to have a few questions ready to ask the interviewer. These shouldn’t be questions where the answers can be found on the company website, but more about the role specifically or day-to-day operations within the brand.
7. Learn to relax
Relaxing is probably the hardest thing to do in an interview, but it’s very beneficial. If you can employ a few techniques to calm your nerves, then you’ll be able to think more clearly, focus better and feel more able to be yourself.
— Frannie (@PurpleFP) March 4, 2016
Research relaxation techniques online and practice one that you feel suits your personality and that you feel you can utilise.
8. Know about body language
There are certain body language signals that you should be aware of, such as not constantly fidgeting, maintaining eye contact and employing a firm handshake.
— CareerHMO (@CareerHMO) February 27, 2016
- Sit up straight
- Show that you’re interested
- Maintain a respectful distance (don’t invade personal space)
- Use subtle hand gestures when describing something
- Speak too quickly or mumble
- Rub your nose, neck or face (this makes you look dishonest)
- Fold your arms
- Stare creepily at the interviewer
- Lose interest and let your eyes wander around the room
- Sound overly rehearsed in your answers
- Lose your temper
- Start browsing your phone
9. Get your social sorted
According to a survey by Jobvite, 73% of recruiters have hired a candidate through social media. More importantly, 92% of hiring managers will review your social profile before making a hiring decision.
Making sure your social profiles aren’t going to let you down is an important part of any job search strategy.
Removing any inappropriate content and ensuring that your profile photo is clear and professional (not one of you on a lilo in a pool in Spain) are the obvious changes required, but also sharing relevant industry updates in forums and discussions can add to your credibility and authority.
If you’re influential on social media in your field, then this will work in your favour during the process and may differentiate you from other job applicants.
10. Follow up and learn
Following up on an interview with the employer and learning from the process will help you hone your skills and optimise your approach to a job search.
Whether you’re successful or not, it’s beneficial to know what part your strengths and weaknesses played in the final employment decision.
In an age where employer branding is so important to the success of a business, most companies should be willing to provide feedback on your interview.
Many brands now employ software tools during the recruitment process, for example, allowing them to create and maintain an active pool of talent who applied for a role that they weren’t quite suited for, but would be appropriate to approach for future roles.
This enables companies to maximise the ROI of recruitment efforts and reduce recruitment costs (agency fees, advertising, etc.), while offering a second chance to those candidates who may not have been successful in previous applications.