After working in recruitment for nearly 10 years, I’ve seen lots of great candidates crash and burn at interview, even though they might have been right for the job and even for the company.
If there’s one thing that you can never underestimate, it’s the importance of preparation. From getting clear on the basics to finding out the inside scoop before you’re in the hot seat.
Here are 5 things you can do to give you the edge in your next interview so that you’ll stand out and be remembered for all the right reasons!
Research the company!
This sounds obvious, but I’ve lost count of the number of interviews where candidates have missed this point. They’ve been vague on what the company does, unclear on what makes the company great and weren’t clear why they would even want to work there.
Make sure you’ve got your facts straight and avoid any embarrassment by spending a little time digging online.
Check out their website and read any press releases to find out what they get up to, innovations, future plans for growth and awards. These can be great discussion points in the interview and show you have a real interest in them.
You should also find their mission and value statements on their website. These will show you whether you’re values are aligned to theirs and will help you speak their language. People like people like them and companies are no different.
You may also find details of investor relations and financial reports on their company website.
Make sure to check out their Linked In page. You’ll be able to get a glimpse of what might be going on inside based on the types of things they post, whether it’s events, recruitment initiatives or product launches.
Check out any other social media channels that they have and remember, they will be checking yours out as well!
For more company research, check out sites like Glass Door to find out what employees are saying about what it’s like to work there and don’t forget to speak to anyone in your network who may have worked there previously.
Research key people in the organisation
Find out what the CEO has to say. Listening to interviews with the CEO or other key people within the business will give you a flavour of what the leadership is like and what their priorities are. You’re also likely to get some idea of where things are headed and what the direction of the company is longer term.
Research the Industry and Key Competitors
As well as knowing the company, it’s important to have a clear picture of the industry. Who are the key players, what makes this company stand out? What threats are the industry facing or what changes or innovations are taking place more broadly.
Having this information will give you the chance to speak confidently and to give your thoughts, insights or opinions about key things which may be taking place, showing that you are genuinely interested in the industry and what is going on and demonstrating that you are capable of global thinking.
Know your interviewer (s)
Interviews are about building rapport and one thing that will help you on this front is knowing a little about your interviewer (s).
Check out their linked in profiles and google them! We’re not trying to get all creepy here but if they have ever done a speech, won any awards or been featured in the press, these are things that they’ll be proud of and they’ll be pleased to know that you’ve been bothered to find out, especially if you’ve found them inspiring, interesting or helpful. Clearly if you come across anything not so positive, this might be best avoided!
Be clear on what job you’re being interviewed for
You’re in the interview and the interviewer starts going into detail about the expectations of the role, but it doesn’t sound like what you applied for and this job doesn’t sound like it’s for you.
Worse still, the interviewer opens by asking you to explain what you’re understanding of the role is and why it interests you, and you immediately mention something that is actually not involved. Not a good start.
Before you go to any interview, make sure you are crystal clear on what the role really involves.
The first place to start is reading the job description — if there is one.
If there isn’t yet a detailed description of the role for one reason or another, ask questions. Write a list of things that you would want to know and discuss these with your recruiter or HR. As long as you’re polite about the whole thing, it’s normal to want to know more before committing to something which isn’t right for you.
Thinks about things like the structure of the team, how this role interacts with other roles and what are the likely career pathways and progression opportunities.
Know yourself and get your story straight!
If you’ve had more than a few roles, or worked in more than a few different companies, as your experience builds, you’ll no doubt be asked for the reasoning behind some of the career decisions you’ve made.
You may have done multiple roles in one company or had a sideways step which isn’t an obvious choice on the surface of it, or you might have gaps.
These are all are part of you and your story, but before you’re sat in front of any interviewer, you need to be well versed and clear on what your reasons were for making the career choices you made.
Trying to explain, random gaps and jobs that don’t align to the role you’ve applied for can be difficult to do on the spot, and as a result you may come across as though you are hiding something or be perceived as someone who makes decisions without thought, both of which do not reflect well.
Make sure you’ve reviewed your CV thoroughly and of course that you’ve submitted the most up to the minute version!
Take the time to write down examples of exactly what you have achieved in each role, the difference you’ve made and the value it added to the organisation. This may be on your CV but be ready to talk about it in detail with specifics.
Often it’s the small things that can make the biggest difference and if it’s a choice between two candidates who are close, then you can be sure that the person who was most prepared and who was able to build great rapport will win out! Who would you pick?
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