As a candidate, preparing for an interview starts from the moment your CV is with a prospective employer and continues until you hopefully have an employment contract in your hand. There are number of factors to consider when preparing for an interview, some of them obvious, others a little more obscure but all of them are important to consider. As a recruiter it is my job to help prepare you to be at your best when in front of a client, below I have outlined what I believe to be 10 of the most important things to prepare:
Make sure your CV and cover note are tailored to the specific job role and outline skills and experiences that are relevant to the job description. Your CV will be used during the interview process so make sure you know it back to front and there are no unexplainable gaps.
Study the position description, cross reference with your CV and experience and think of specific examples where you have carried out the desired requirements.
Confirm that the salary being offered is in line with your expectations, there is no point attending an interview if the remuneration offered is well below what you are looking for, this leads to time wasting for all involved and can jeopardise your reputation in the future. It is unlikely for an organisation to suddenly offer $20k more than originally advertised as companies must adhere to budgets and salary bandings.
Do your research! By research I don’t just mean “Google” the organisation and read the “about us” page. Look up the senior members of staff on LinkedIn, research the people who will be interviewing you, find out where they worked previously; identify any ears of common ground. Read articles that discuss the organisation, their place in the market and their annual shareholder statement. Research their competitors, understand their products or their brands and ask friends and family if they know anything about the organisation, good or bad.
Have your transport plan worked out, use Metlink or a journey planner to plan how long the journey will take, and have a back up plan. If you plan to drive to the interview it’s a good idea to know the public transport options just in case your car breaks down or is needed at the last minute by someone else.
Leave yourself plenty of time, if the interview is scheduled to be an hour long, make sure you have a minimum of 15 minutes spare either side just in case it is delayed or runs over time ideally 30 minutes.
Make sure your suit is dry cleaned and your clothes are ironed, dressing for success is vital in an interview, if you don’t take pride in your appearance the future employer may question the pride you take in your work. If you are male then make sure you are clean shaven and if you are female then wear make up but don’t wear too much. If you are a smoker then avoid smoking before the interview as the smell of smoke on clothes can be off putting and use perfume or aftershave sparingly.
Understand the format of the interview before hand; will it be 1:1? Will it involve and assessment or testing of any kind? Is it a panel interview? Will it be behavioural based or more of a casual chat? Do you need to prepare anything or take anything with you? If the Interview has been organised through a recruitment agency then they should give you all this information, however if it is direct with a client then don’t be afraid to ask the questions, its much better to do so and be prepared than turning up unsure.
Prepare questions to ask the interviewer’s at the end of the meeting, ask them about their experiences working for the organisation. Find out how long they have been there, and what are the best and worst things about working for the organisation. Don’t forget that an interview is a two way street, it’s your opportunity to interview them just as much as it is their opportunity to interview you.
Finally be yourself, practice some behavioural questions but give honest and truthful answers, an interviewer doesn’t want to hire a robot. Cultural and team fit is much more important to them usually than anything else, interviews can be a daunting experience, make sure your mobile is off, you have had an early night before hand and are not hungry, you want to be fresh and focussed, not tired hung-over, hungry and late!
Clare Beecroft – Manager, Business Support for GOW Recruitment