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The ultimate toolkit for acing your next interview

The ultimate toolkit for acing your next interview

An interview is a lengthy process. There’s the application, all that preparation, and finally, if you do well, there are potentially multiple rounds of meetings. Even for the most confident, bright, and charismatic of us, it’s often a stressful experience.

The only thing that redeems it is if you get the job in the end. So, to give yourself the best chance for success, you better be prepared.

There are a few stages of the interview process that you need to get right: your research and preparation before the interview; your conduct, responses, and conversation during the interview; and that all-important follow-up.

This straightforward toolkit will walk you through each stage so that you’ll know what to expect, how to prepare, and ensure that you’re in the best position possible to land the job.  

Stage one: preparing for the interview

First and foremost, familiarise yourself with the role and job description. Think about your strengths and how you are qualified for every part of the job. Make notes all over the job description if that will help you identify how your experiences and skills match up to the requirements of the role.

Research the company and the people who will be interviewing you. What’s their vibe: laid-back, corporate, creative? You can usually get a good understanding of the company culture and values from their website.

Find out the positions and notable details about your interviewees as this will help you make conversation and show you’ve done your research. Make sure you’re also up to speed on what’s happening in their industry and with their competitors.

Prepare yourself for technical questions relevant to the role. And where relevant, bring samples of your work.

Prepare for commonly asked questions:

  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • What interests you about this role?
  • Why would you like to work for this company?
  • What experience can you bring to this position?
  • What are your career aspirations?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What was your greatest achievement in your previous position?
  • Tell me about a situation where you came across difficulties and how you overcame them.

Make sure you bring a copy of your CV (one copy for each person you’re meeting) to the interview. If you haven’t refreshed your CV in a while, read our blog on 5 ways to improve your CV.

Work out your transport plan. Make sure to leave yourself plenty of time for potential interruptions or delays.

Stage two: interviewing 

First impressions are so important. We’ve all heard the stats that it takes anywhere from a few minutes to just a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face! That doesn’t give you much time…

Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to make that first impression favourable.

Dress professionally. It doesn’t matter if you’re interviewing at a law firm or an edgy start-up, wear something smart. The only exception is if other attire has previously been specified by your recruitment consultant, in which case follow that advice.

Greet your interviewer with eye contact, a smile, and a firm handshake. Be confident and friendly.

Need help projecting confidence? Watch Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk about prepping yourself to behave more confidently through pre-interview power poses!

Be polite. Speak clearly and think about your answers. Make sure to always answer the questions that you have been asked rather than steering the conversation to your own agenda.

Sell yourself confidently. This may be uncomfortable or unnatural to you. The best way to get better is by practising with a friend or in front of a mirror before your interview. This is important. If you don’t talk about your abilities and achievements, then you can’t expect your interviewers to know what you’re capable of. Don’t presume they have memorised your CV.

Try to make a good impression even if it becomes clear that the role is not a perfect match. It’s possible that you will meet your interviewer again or there may be another suitable role in the company.

Let the interviewer lead the interview, but don’t be afraid to ask questions that have not been covered regarding the role, training, culture, advancement opportunities, etc.

Ask for feedback at the end of the interview. It is better to get any reservations cleared up before you leave, rather than letting the interviewer sit on them.

Call your recruitment consultant straight after the interview to give them an update on how it went, including any positive or negative feedback.

Stage three: follow-up and a little TLC

A follow-up email can demonstrate your professionalism and your keenness for the position. If you’re not sure whether this is appropriate, ask your consultant.

Be as flexible as possible when scheduling a second interview. Try to make yourself available as soon as possible to avoid delays.

Leave salary negotiations for a later stage – or leave them up to your consultant to manage for you. It is important to build up their interest in you for the role first, rather than enter a negotiation too early.

Think about what went well and what didn’t go so well throughout the process. Make notes so that you’ll be better prepared next time.

After all that work, treat yourself! Regardless of the outcome, preparing for an interview can be exhausting. So book that massage or buy yourself that nice bottle of red. You deserve it.

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Author: Alice Weightman

As Founder and CEO, Alice established Hanson Search in 2002 and has since gained a reputation as one of the leading search professionals in senior appointments across communications, developing an incredible network globally.

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