"By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail." - Benjamin Franklin.
Cooper Fitch have seen an increase in the number of professional job seekers, as a result of lots of competition in the market, landing your dream job is becoming more and more difficult. Therefore when you do get an opportunity to interview with a company, you have to make sure you ace it. These 10 tips will certainly help you do that.
We regularly encounter an almost casual attitude towards anticipation of performance and interview preparation processes.
“I’m good at interviews, I always do well”
“I'll take a look at their website and I’ll be fine"
“I will put in the preparation the night before”
Invariably this over-confidence and resistance to assistance leads to clients providing negative feedback.
“They just didn’t seem enthusiastic enough and certainly did not seem prepared”
“They weren't able to provide real life examples to answer the competency questions we asked"
“They hadn’t researched the industry we are in and didn't know who our main competitors are”
“They weren’t able to talk through their CV in enough detail”
“They couldn't remember all their academic results”
I could keep going on, the list is literally endless! However, there are common pitfalls during an interview process and most of them you can prepare for.
1. First Impressions Count
First impressions really do count. Psychology studies reveal that first impressions are formed within 7 to 17 seconds of meeting someone; 55% of a person's opinion is determined by physical appearance.
This is one of the easiest things to get right. If you are an Accountant you will need to look professional. Even if the company have a casual policy in relation to dress, always err on the side of caution. Wear a suit, a clean and well-pressed shirt and if you are male, wear a tie ensuring you have your top button done up. Other details such as polished shoes, a firm handshake and good personal hygiene will all be noted.
2. Arriving Late
Know your location and plan in advance your route and the timings in getting there. Ideally, do a trial run to see if you will make it there in the time you have allotted yourself. Remember to consider the time of day and traffic. The interviewer is often a Senior level person with a busy schedule. If you arrive late for a 9 am interview, as a result of not accounting for rush hour traffic, then this can affect meetings that the interviewer has scheduled for the rest of the day. This always creates a very bad first impression.
3. Being Under Prepared
An interview is not easy to secure in this environment and getting the interview means you are very advanced in a process of “serious consideration” for the vacancy. Putting in the time to research the job, the people, the company, recently published articles and anything newsworthy including reviewing the annual set of accounts will really impress your interviewer. Put the time in and you will be rewarded.Many people assume an interview is just a matter of having a conversation about their career to date.
4. Inability to Articulate your CV
Many people assume an interview is just a matter of having a conversation about their career to date. When pushed for facts and figures in a pressurised situation such as an interview, many people will be unable to articulate this information. Always know your CV inside out. Be able to talk through your CV giving concise answers backed up with figures. You will only have 30 - 60 minutes in total for most interviews so you need to get to the point quickly. Allow time for them to ask you questions following your “summary” of going through your CV. Know your dates, the systems you have used, who you reported to and your key achievements in all of the roles you outline on your CV.
Make sure your CV is 100% truthful with all the dates, job titles and companies you have worked for. We live in a digital age with huge amounts of information available online. You will be caught out if you don't have the correct dates on your CV or leave out “any” job since leaving college, include even a 3-month contract role you took whilst travelling. Employers will check references in detail and will investigate your online presence to ensure it tallies with your CV.
6. Competency Questions
These are tricky as they'll generally involve you having to give a real life example to demonstrate certain competencies you possess. They'll generally start with "Tell me about a time you had to.." or "Describe a situation where you...".
The good news is that you can prepare for these. There is lots of information online and most interviewers will normally ask a handful of the same type of question so you can have an outline of your answers prepared in advance.
When under pressure, our minds often race ahead to try and formulate an answer to a question before the interviewer is finished speaking. As a result, people often miss hearing the most important part of the question and then provide an answer that is not relevant to what the interviewer wants to know.
This can really frustrate the interviewer and they may wonder if the person you will be reporting to will have to constantly reiterate what they are asking you to do.
Give your undivided attention to the interviewer when they are speaking and watch their gestures and body language also. Once they are finished speaking it is acceptable to ask for time to formulate your answer. Don't be afraid if there is some silence between them finishing and you starting to talk.People often miss hearing the most important part of the question and then provide an answer that is not relevant
8. Money, Money, Money
Asking about remuneration packages, especially at first interview - is a no, no! If you are using an agency they are acting as a 'consultant' so it's up to them to negotiate and talk about salary. By asking about salary at an early stage, it can give the impression you are most interested in what is in it for you and they'll question your loyalty if a slightly higher salary is on offer elsewhere.
9. Any Questions?
It is normal for your interviewer to ask if you have any questions at the end of the interview. Failure to ask questions can be perceived as a lack of interest or preparation. In reality, a lot of the questions you want to know will be covered during the course of the interview. Do not be tempted to ask a question you have just thought up on the spot just for the sake of asking something. Instead, mention the things you wanted to find out about prior to the interview and ask them to clarify certain things if required.
10. Finish with a Flourish!
How the meeting concludes can leave a lasting impression. Always leave the interview on a positive note even if you have no clue how you did. Interviewers are very good at keeping a poker face as they may be meeting with a lot of people and will want to think about the interview before giving any impression to the interviewer. No matter how the interview has gone politely thank them for their time and if you are interested in the position, let them know this. Nobody likes rejection, including interviewers, and if it is a close call between candidates, they're likely to choose the person that they know who really wants the job.
Treat interviews as you would an exam. Most people will spend at least four years in university putting in thousands of hours of study to put themselves into a position to work in the career of their choice. Treat interviews as you would an exam. You will spend on average a third of your time in work so it's vital that you enjoy what you do and who you work for. The preparation you put into interviews will determine where you will spend a large chunk of your life and how much money you will earn for doing so.
You should ideally come away from an interview feeling you did the best you could, with no regrets around preparation and answers you didn’t have to what were, in hindsight, easy questions. If you have put in the time and preparation and worked with your recruitment consultant in preparing for the interview, then whether you get the role or not you should feel very good about the experience and whatever else happened was beyond your control. You should feel very good about the experience.
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