Interviews can be one of the most nerve wracking situations to go through – especially if you’ve been job searching for a while and have finally got through to this stage! Preparation is key and there are a few key things employers want to hear:
1. You’ve Researched the Company
Employers want to hire a candidate that fits in with their ethos and shares their core values – they’re usually as desperate to find the right candidate as you are to secure the job!
Make sure you do your research – find out where the company started and how they’ve progressed to what they are today, are they looking to expand in the near future? Have they secured new contracts?
A thorough read of their website and a simple Google search should yield all you need, just make sure your views match theirs and try using some of their language/phrasing when speaking at the interview. Employers want to know you want to work for them, so demonstrate this.
2. You Understand What the Job Involves
It sounds simple but having a really strong understanding of the actual role you’re interviewing for is really important and something a lot of people seem to overlook.
Make sure you review the job description or speak to the HR team who book your interview for any additional information about the role. A lot of people feel timid about asking for this, feeling it will reflect negatively on them, but it actually demonstrates you’re serious about the role.
Having this understanding will make it easier to approach those questions such as ‘What do you think you can bring to the role’ and ‘What do you think the role will involve on a day to day basis?’ – These questions are quite common and it’s that level of understanding that employers are looking for.
3. You Know Your CV & Cover Letter
Again, another simple piece of advice but something a lot of people overlook – especially when they’ve been completing numerous applications or, in my line of work, had someone else help them with their CV and cover letter.
It’s really important to know these documents like the back of your hand – it’s very likely employers at an interview will pick out details and frame questions around these to ask for more information. If you don’t know what’s on there, you could be thrown by this type of questioning and employers will notice.
4. Your Transferable Skills
All employers want to know what you can bring to them – even if you’re interviewing for a role where you have little or no direct experience in the industry, your transferable skills are what will really sell you.
Remember, regardless of your direct experience, an employer has chosen to interview you so they are already thinking you are capable of doing the job. Use your company and role knowledge to think around the skills they have identified and make sure you’re voicing these within your answers.
5. What Motivates You
Have a serious think around what attracted you to apply for the role in the first place, how does it fit with your previous experience? What aspects of the job description made you think this was the role for you?
Making sure you can talk positively and enthusiastically about what motivates you to want to work in the industry and role you’re interviewing for will make you stand out to the employer.
If you’re already thinking ‘it’s just a job’ before you’ve even interviewed maybe its time to review how you apply for roles.
6. How Does this Job Fit into Your Career Plan
An important one to consider, especially if you’re interviewing for a role that’s taking your career in a new direction. Be prepared to answer questions about why you want to move into this industry and what happened with your last employment.
It may be a case that you’re staying in the same industry but taking a lower level job, following redundancy perhaps. Again, be prepared to talk positively about this change in pace and reassure the employer this is where you want to be.
It’s fairly unwise to commit yourself too precisely to a career plan. So you might say something like “Business changes so rapidly nowadays it’s hard to plan precisely. But I know what I want to get ahead in this industry and I think the opportunities to do that in this company are excellent”.
7. You’re Positive About Your Circumstances
Whether it be a period of unemployment following redundancy, health reasons, or a change at home, make sure if you do have to mention it you talk positively around what’s happened.
If it’s redundancy, mention all the great things you learnt from your last employer and the skills you’re eager to take forward into the new role you’re interviewing for. Regardless of whether the redundancy was received negatively, you don’t want an employer thinking you’re a pessimist!
If you’re returning to work after poor health, talk positively about how you’re managing your condition and keen to return to work. Highlight anything you’ve done whilst being out of work to keep up to date – a course, voluntary work or online presence (keeping up to date via LinkedIn, writing a blog or articles), make sure you have something positive to say.
8. You Have a Personality
When I conduct Mock Interviews with clients, it can become evident they have practiced their answers and while they might give a text book answer to the questions, it’s usually devoid of any character or personality. As much as giving the right answer is important, so is making sure that answer is your own – your own words and phrases and demonstrates your personality.
If you’re applying for retail or bar work – smile lots, show a sense of humour – don’t just say you’re good with people, show them! If you’re applying for admin or office work – demonstrate you’re organisation, take notes in with you, be prepared with a CV, make a comment about how prepared you are.
Either way just make sure you’re showing the employer a bit of yourself, they want an employee not a robot! (Although don’t be over friendly and use coarse language!)
9. Your Availability
If you’re interviewing while currently employed it’s important to be honest. So if you told your boss you had to stay home for the Sky Satellite man to call, or that you had a dentists appointment, keep quiet about it. Otherwise you’re interviewer knows that if they offer you the job they’ll be wondering what’s going on every time you ask for time off to go to the dentists.
Ideally, your boss knows you’re looking for work and is aware you’re at an interview. However, in the real world this generally isn’t the case. Assuming your boss actually has no idea where you are the only valid justification for taking time off here is that you took a day’s holiday in order to attend this interview.
10. You Have Questions to Ask
Make sure you prepare at least 2 or 3 questions to ask the interviewer at the end! The common ones are around progression, initial training and on-going professional development, but think outside the box!
If you’ve done your research and are aware of some upcoming developments/expansions – ask about them! Find out if your role will be involved in anyway, especially if its something you’re interested in. It demonstrates you have a genuine interest in the company and are excited about where the role can take you.
Avoid questions around pay or holiday unless the interviewer mentions it first.
Whether or not the interviewer’s questions are intended to be tough you should always follow these rules:
Don’t get defensive
Pause for a short moment before you answer if you feel better doing this
Preparation is key and there are heaps of online resources for interview help – YouTube being a favourite for me and my clients!
photo by: Kompania Piwowarska