An interview is a two way process – the potential employer will be learning about you and vice versa. Information will be gained not only from the answers given to their questions, but also from the kind of questions you ask and the opinions you hold. There is no magic formula on winning an interview, but there are a number of basic skills and do’s and don’ts.
The most important thing is to have the right attitude. You must go to the interview with the sole intention of being offered a position. Too many candidates during the course of an interview give too much consideration to whether they want the job or whether they are suited to it. Do not give the interviewer the opportunity to exclude you by excluding yourself. Once you have an offer, you can then say yes or no.
Preparation for your interview is vital. You have to know why you have chosen the particular job, and find out as much as possible about the employer.
Do your homework on the company. Names of top people, directors etc. Obtain product information and a set of accounts, which will give you the size and feel of the business. Make sure you plan how you will get to the interview – do a dummy run if at all possible. Allow time to go to the toilet and freshen yourself up – make sure you arrive for the appointment early, but enter on time.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Most interviews are won during the first 3-5 minutes. What you have to do in order to be different, so that they remember you out of all the other candidates, is to hold their concentration for more than the magic 3-5mins. Each minute after is a bonus. The chemistry between you, the candidate, and the interviewer is most important – you must get on and it is you who has to compromise in order to win the interview.
There are just a few crucial questions that occur again and again at interviews: –
“Tell me about yourself”
This is where you have the stage for just three minutes so you have to rehearse your response.
“Why did you leave your last job, or why are you looking for another?”
Rehearse your answers so you are not caught out.
No one can predict the exact questions that an interviewer will ask, but to prepare, think about how you would answer the following questions:
Prepare answers on paper to any possible questions that may come up and by doing this it will hopefully lodge in your mind if the question arises. Never be afraid to say, “I don’t know”.
Write on a small card any questions that you want answered – make sure you have at least three good questions – at least when you are asked you are well prepared – you have to stand out from the other candidates. Sample questions could include:
Do not ask what the salary is, what the pension is, and what holidays you get.
Your only job at the interview is to win it – they will offer you the position if they want you, and then we can negotiate the best terms.
If the interview is running late or is constantly interrupted with ‘phone calls’, offer to come back at a more convenient time – you must make sure that you get a fair hearing.
Too many people second-guess themselves after the interview. By closing strongly and asking the right questions, you can eliminate the post-interview doubts that tend to plague most interviewees. If you feel that the interview went well and you would like to take the next step, express your interest to the hiring authority and turn the tables on them. Try something like the following:
“After hearing more about your company, the position and the responsibilities at hand, I am certain that I possess the qualities that you are looking for in the (title) position. Based on our conversation and my qualifications, are there any issues or concerns that you have that would lead you to believe otherwise?”
You have a right to be assertive. This is a great closing question because it opens the door for the hiring authority to be honest with you about his or her feelings. If concerns do exist, this is a great opportunity to overcome them. You have one final chance to dispel the concerns, show your strengths and end the interview on a positive note.
A few things to remember during the closing process:
Immediately after the interview, make notes of anything you may have overlooked and note the questions where you may have struggled with the answers. Think of the qualifications the employer is looking for and match your strengths to them.
Make sure you are fully aware of the next stage after your interview. When and how they will contact you (via Trident Bassett Consultants), how many will be short listed for another interview, when that will be, what do they see as their first priority, how quickly do they want someone on board etc…
Immediately after the interview, write a follow-up letter to the interviewer, thanking them for your meeting, listing the primary job tasks as you understand them and how you can meet those tasks. You would welcome a second interview etc. – not too long – try to make it a page.
I hope these notes will give you a few ideas on how to have a successful interview. The main thing is to rehearse, act out the interview with your friends, partner, or even the mirror!
Finally, always give me a call at the earliest opportunity after the interview to give me your feedback and comments.