How to sail through the interview process

Before the interview

Recognise the old adage ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail?’ This is the crux of ensuring a good interview. Below is a key checklist for your preparation.

  1. Research the company.

It is vital to express an understanding of what the company do and their values – this is not just a quick scan of their website’s ‘about me’ page but real comprehension. The website is a great place to start, along with their LinkedIn and other social media pages, recent news articles and press releases mentioning them.

It is also important to understand the company culture – what are the key values and attributes they value in employees? This is good not only for yourself to check you will be a good fit, but to know what qualities to demonstrate in the interview.

Additionally, if the company are transparent about who your interview panel will be it can be good to do some research on them specifically to know their position in the company and a little about their personality if possible!

It is also highly important to check the company’s location, where you will be interviewing and plan your route beforehand. Plan to get there 5-10mins early, and ensure you take the potential for traffic or delays into account.

  1. Research the role.

It is vital to show your understanding of the requirements for the role. This can be found not only through the job description, but also from similar roles and reaching out to people you may know who work in the industry to get a better understanding. Impress your interviewer by knowing the position you are applying for inside out.

  1. Research the market.

This is what will really give you a competitive edge over other candidates. Demonstrating an awareness of the industry – key competitors, stakeholders and issues will show that you are really passionate about the role and willing to go the extra mile.

A primary method for achieving this is through news articles and blogs – even typing “current issues in * insert industry *” into Google is an excellent starting point!

  1. Prepare for interview questions.

All the preparation you’ve done so far will go a long way in helping to answerinterview questions, but it can also be useful to pre-empt what you might be asked. You could end up looking unprepared if you cannot answer basic questions like your top strengths and weaknesses, why you want to work for the company or why you are leaving your current role.

There are different types of interviews, and you may be told what to expect which will definitely help with preparation If not, it is important to plan as much as possible to ensure you are not caught off guard.

One example is a behavioural interview, which is based on past experiences – the ‘tell me about a time you…’ questions. You should have anecdotes prepared that demonstrate past challenges you have faced and how you overcome them. A key method to answering such questions is the STARR technique – outline the context of the Situation, the Task at hand, the Actions you actually took, the end Result, and a final Reflection can be used to look back on how you might do things differently in the future.

On the other hand, situational interview questions will be more forward-focused, asking you how you would navigate hypothetical situations. This can be trickier to plan for, but if you have done your research on the role and the industry you should be able to guess some key scenarios that you might face.

During the Interview

Research has found that your first impression is key, as interviews will spend the rest of the session looking to confirm their initial judgement of you. It is therefore important to come -well-presented, be punctual, and have professional body language like a firm handshake upon meeting the interviewer and maintaining eye contact.

It is also good to plan questions for you to ask the interviewers at the end, as this again demonstrates your commitment to the role and the prior research you conducted. For example, you could ask more about the company culture, management or working styles, opportunities for development or their expectations for your performance.

Finally, whilst planning is vital, it is also important to be yourself and not make your answers sound too rehearsed. Interviewing is a two-way process; you are being assessed for suitability for the role, but the company is also being assessed by you to see if it is somewhere you would enjoy working. You should leave the interview feeling excited for the opportunity and eager for feedback.

After the Interview

A short, polite follow-up after the interview can further demonstrate that you are a keen candidate. This could be dropping an email to the interviewer or recruiter if you are working through an agency, thanking them for the opportunity, expressing your interest in the role and stating that you are looking forward to hearing from them. It may be tempting to sell yourself some more but a clear, concise thank-you note will show your professionalism and tactfulness.

Interviews can be extremely stressful, so finally make sure take the time to breathe and congratulate yourself for making it through the process!

If you are having difficulty securing interviews, keep in mind that Mason and Dale offer specialised resume support and access to exclusive positions – do not hesitate to get into contact!

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