Slamdunk your interview in 8 steps

Ace your interview using these 8 steps

 25 Jan 2018

Preparation is key when it comes to having a successful interview and landing the job.  Preparation can take many forms though on the run up to the big day.  We have set out 8 of the most important ways you can be ready to ace your next interview…
  1. How do you describe your previous employers?
I was surprised by the amount of times I would hear from hiring managers that candidates would openly talk negatively about previous employers when I started in recruitment.  Whilst life is not always rosy, and we can indeed have bad experiences with employers, an interview is not a chit chat, it is a way for you to put your best foot forward, demonstrate your abilities, experience and suitability to work within the team / company.
The best way to avoid this is to seriously think about how you will describe each of your positions and companies that you have worked for if you have been asked.  Often, candidates will study competency-based questions or answers to technical questions, but they will rarely work on how they describe previous positions.  This is a major oversight, think about what you did, how you performed, your KPI’s your fit within the team / company and present it in an honest and positive way.  Do this for each of your positions, making sure you come across well.  If in doubt cut it out.
  1. Avoid being mocked by practicing mock interviews
It may feel cheesy but for the moment if you are well practiced at interviews you will have a greater chance of getting the job than someone that may be better than you because they didn’t come across well. 
Once you have completed the above you can then practice this with someone close to you.  A parent, partner, spouse, colleague or neighbour.  Leave the dog out though, they tend to tell you anything for a dentastix.  Let them ask you about your work experience and then give you feedback on how you came across.  
Break down how you think an interview will go, review your answers to some of the greatest hits interview questions:
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What are your goals?
  • Tell us one thing you would change about your last job?
  • Tell us about a problem you encountered in … and how you overcame it?
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • What made you apply for this position?
Really try to work on these answers, what would you want to hear for each of them, go with your gut after you have reviewed who will be interviewing you and the philosophy of the company you are interviewing with.  Are they a modern, agile Start-Up or are they a traditional company that haven’t changed much in the past decade?  Knowing the answer to these questions will help you create the ideal answer to the above questions.
  1. Be Positive
Obviously, we have covered negativity partly above, however, it’s such an important point.  Yes, interviews can be stressful, but we need to be calm throughout and be aware of our general attitude.  Are you too quiet and dull? Is your body slouched and your body language all wrong? Try to be confident, relaxed and remember to smile throughout.  Remember that it’s not only your experience that you will be accessed on it is also your nature and how you will fit within the team. 
Who comes into your head when you think of someone with a bright smile?  How do you remember them?  Chances are you will have a positive image of them and they may even make you smile.  Are they positive in their outlook?  Aim for leaving this kind of impression with your interviewers.  This with your unique knowledge and experience is a winning combination.
  1. Company research
The hiring managers that we work with are always impressed when the individual turns up to an interview having completed research on their company, more so if this is a SME rather than a global or national player.  It is one of the only chances you have to demonstrate through action your thoroughness and professionalism. 
Go through news articles of local news publications to see if you can find some up to date or unique news and then think about how that could relate to your position.  If there is nothing you can research the previous performance of the company, their marketing style, accomplishments or technical capabilities or check out their website, LinkedIn page or Facebook page. Find out what the company is like, what they deal with, what other departments they have. 
The findings of your research can be an excellent foundation to draw up some questions that you can ask at the end of the interview.
  1. It’s a 2-way street
Don’t do yourself an injustice by not asking questions at the end or when an opportunity presents itself during the interview.  An interview is a 2-way street, if you are curious about part of the job responsibilities you should ensure that you are prepared with some questions to settle your curiosity.  
its also important for you to remember that this is your opportunity to interview the company, make sure that this is the company and job for you.  After all, if you leave something out and find out 3 months into the job that there are elements that you don’t like and want to move on, you could have saved your own and the companies time by asking the correct questions during the interview.
If you look at your list of questions and realise that 90% of them are based on the package and any related benefits, it might be time to start again or at least add in some filler questions.
  1. Know your route
Is the interview location close to your daily commute?  Do you know how long it will take for you to get there?  Are you aware of the route you will need to take or public transport times etc that will ensure you are at the interview on time?  Don’t be the person that turns up flustered, out of breath and late.  Leave your house confident that you know where you are going, when you will get there and then arrive with time to take in the competition leaving the interview room before you. 
  1. Know your interviewers
Whether you have had your interview arranged by the hiring company or an agency you should have been advised who will be present and carrying out the interview. If you haven’t then get back in touch with your recruiter or HR and ask them for confirmation on the name and title of the interview panel.
Check out your interviewers on LinkedIn, do you have any crossover in you past?  Have you worked for the same company as them?  Do you have any connections in common that you can find out about them?  Bear in mind that they can see if you have viewed their profile so refrain from checking them out for 6 days in a row before the interview. 
Look into their background and see if you might have something in common that will assist you in building a rapport with them.  Avoid going for something abstract and stick to a solid connection.
  1. Take ownership
Many candidates can overlook how they paint their achievements.  Whilst most people in the western world will have team player on their CV and this is a great attribute it is equally important to express your individual successes and where your part in a project was essential in achieving its success.  In the spectrum between ego maniac and the worst member of the team we want to land in the middle.  Be confident and express your successes, have examples of when you went the extra mile and delivered for your team and company.

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