Interviews - How to Make Yours a Success
WHO ARE YOU?
Think about your skills, achievements, qualifications / experience.
HOW ARE YOU PERCEIVED?
Talk to friendly colleagues, past or present, about their view of you as a team member, your strengths and of your CV.
WHAT IS YOUR OBJECTIVE?
What job function(s) can and should you do, and in what sector or environment? Take advice on this too. Getting to an interview is not the objective, just part of it.
WHO ARE YOUR TARGETS?
Which consultancy, local or specialist, is likely to understand your needs? Members of the recruitment industry association, REC, have all agreed to abide by Codes of Practice and are subject to stringent membership criteria.
Recruitment consultancies have access to vacancies that have not been advertised, will market your skills widely and give you accurate advice on job-finding techniques and/or improving your CV.
Once you have been offered an interview, what do you need to know about the company? Products, size, locations, style, reputation both as employers and suppliers, the sort of job they'd have for you. Ask your consultancy to give you some information, or phone the company and ask them to send you an annual report.
When you apply for a job, which letter and CV are you using?
Do remember what you put in each so you don't sound vague at the interview, your good points ought to be in writing already; saving them for interview may mean no meeting!
Read a good book on body language, so you strengthen your good signals, curb the weak ones.
ON THE DAY
First impressions count. Are you well groomed with tidy hair, shoes and clothing? Don't overdo the perfume or aftershave. Remember some people are sensitive to smells, consider your personal hygiene.
If you smoke we would recommend not doing so just before your interview as some employers may find this off-putting.
Practice a good handshake; not too firm, not too weak.
Are you well dressed, in a way that follows conventions in this job sector, at the conservative end of your own range? Ask the consultancy what the client's dress code is.
Plan a reliable way of getting there which allows you to be a few minutes early - not too late and probably not just on time, because this means late when you've been delayed in reception or walking round their building.
Arriving too early is also a no no! It can make the interviewer feel pressured in to seeing you before they are ready. If you do arrive earlier than expected wait in your car, grab a coffee somewhere or take a brief walk.
LAST FEW MINUTES
Recheck your paperwork and your 'script' i.e. the smile, the first words (your greeting).
Be polite to any other staff you meet including those at the consultancy. They count too - and may influence a decision in your favour.
Try not to monopolise the meeting - let your interviewer talk. If they don't tell you, find out what are the key parts of the candidate specification so you can show how you meet them. Ask how the job contributes to the success, efficiency and profitability of the organisation.
Try to show, without being contrived, that you have done some research. Avoid too much self-opinion. Don't let nervousness put you off. If you are offered a drink it is probably safer not to accept tea or coffee and just ask for a glass of water. If you are taking papers to the interview, put them in a suitable case or folder.
Maintain good eye contact throughout the interview, but remember it's rude to stare.
Keep your replies simple. Offer positive information - don't give bad news that is not asked for.
Don't harp on about problems or criticise previous employers.
Make sure the employer knows the benefits of employing you.
If there is time, ask them if there is anything more they need to know about you. Start planning the letter you might send if you haven't had time to get your best points across - or if something they've told you reminds you of your hidden depths. Or you could plan to send a cutting of you or the success of an organisation you've been working for. Ask what happens next.
Tell the consultancy how the interview went and get feedback from them, including when they expect the client to make a decision. If there is something else you want to mention send a brief letter / email.
Everything is negotiable. If the final offer is not what you had hoped for, ask the consultancy to talk to the client. Say that you like the job but the package is not up to your expectations - can they flex at all - now or after the probationary period.