You rarely get a second chance to make a good impression on a prospective employer, so at your interview it is important that you get it right first time. Below is some advice on how to prepare for that all important first meeting.
Prepare yourself, interviews are two way meetings. They are both an opportunity for the interviewer to find out about you and whether you are a suitable candidate – and for you to find out about the organisation and if the position will provide you with the challenge and job satisfaction you are looking for.
Think about your skills, qualifications and experience and ensure that you can talk confidently about what is written on your CV. Particularly ensure that you can talk about the skills relevant to the position you are going for.
Prepare some questions to ask at the interview. At the first interview it would be wise to restrict your questions to the details of the job and the organisation. Salary and benefit discussions are best left until a second interview or a job offer is made.
Do your homework:
Find out as much as possible about the company prior to the interview. A good starting point is to look up their website and find out about the products and services they offer, the location of the office/s, and the number of employees. Ask the consultancy if they have any extra information on them. You could also phone the company and ask them to send you an annual report.
Dress code and appearance:
Ask your consultancy what the client’s dress code is. For office work, smart business dress is a must.
Ensure you are well groomed with tidy hair, clean shoes and clothing. Do not wear too much perfume or aftershave and keep make-up, jewellery and nail polish simple.
Travel and timing:
Plan your journey beforehand to ensure you arrive a few minutes early. Allow for possible travel delays. Just in case of a major hold up, make sure you have your contact’s telephone number so that you can call if you suspect you will be late.
What to expect
Interviews come in many forms – panel interviews, one to one interviews, group interviews etc. Ask your consultancy what form of interview it will be beforehand. You may be asked to take a test before the interview, depending on the type of organisation. These might consist of psychometric or aptitude tests.
There are many different interview styles and each interviewer will have their own personal style. Some interviewers will fire questions at you while others will start off with an open question such as “tell me about yourself” leaving you to do most of the talking. The majority of interviews will be somewhere between the two. Be prepared for any style of interview.
Make sure the employer knows the benefits of employing you. It is important to sell yourself by telling the employer details of your relevant skills and experience that you have to contribute to the organisation.
Try not to monopolise the meeting – let your interviewer talk.
Find out what the key parts of the candidate specification are so you can show how you meet them.
Ask how the job contributes to the success, efficiency and profitability of the organisation.
Show that you have done some research.
Don’t give negative information or bad news if you are not asked for it and don’t criticise previous employers or jobs. The key is to turn negative information into positive information.
Top Interview Tips
- Practice a strong positive handshake and plan your greeting.
- Remember to smile and be polite to all the staff you meet, including those at the consultancy. They are an important link in the recruitment process and may influence a decision in your favour.
- Unless you feel particularly comfortable, do not accept tea or coffee at the interview as it can get in the way.
- If you are taking papers to the interview, carry them in a suitable case or folder.
The next steps
Agree exactly what the next steps will be, such as who will contact you to let you know if you have been successful and by when. You should also find out whether there will be second interviews and who will conduct them. If you are really interested in the position make sure you tell the interviewer.
After the Interview
Tell the consultancy how the interview went and get feedback from them.
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 and ask if the company can be at all flexible.