Candidate Interview Tips

Interview tips for Candidates

The interview is where the magic happens! This is the opportunity to meet your potential employer and to present yourself as the hiring solution to their problems and as such, creating the right impression is vital in winning that all important offer.

Here are some useful tips to maximise the opportunity.

Prepare yourself.

Interviews are two-way meetings. Not only are they an opportunity for the interviewer to find out about you and your suitability for the position, but are also an opportunity 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 about those skills that are relevant and valuable to the position you are applying 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 when 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.

Dress code and appearance:

Find out 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.


The Interview

What to expect:

Interviews come in many forms – panel interviews, one to one interview, 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 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.

 

Two-way communication:

Make sure the employer knows the benefits of employing you. Sell yourself by providing your relevant skills and experience that you will 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 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.
At the end of the interview ask if the interviewer has any reservations, this is a great opportunity to assess how the interviewer feels about you and the interview in general.

 

What kind of person are you?

Handle questions about personality carefully.
Rather than say “I’m an idea’s person”, talk about a time when you changed things with a good idea.

 

Why did you leave?

Employers will probe for reasons for job change.
If you are currently out of work, they will probe this, too.
Rehearse short, simple, positive “stories” to cover these points. This is not telling lies, just a simple, positive summary.

 

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 opportunity, make sure you tell the interviewer.

After the Interview:

Tell the recruitment consultancy how the interview went and get feedback from them (if applicable).

 

Negotiation:

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 flexible.

 

You can’t prepare for every question that will come up at the interview, but you can anticipate most of them. Here are some of the most awkward questions, and ways of handling them.

Tell us about yourself.

Prepare for the worst - a classic opener that can really throw you.
Plan by having a presentation statement to cover this.

 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years ‘time?

If your answer doesn’t ring true for you, it won’t for anyone else.
Talk about career plans, and what you want to learn and achieve in the future.

 

Why do you want this job?

Have a clear answer to this (even if, privately, you’re not sure – you only have to decide this when the job offer is in your hand).

 

How do you cope in a crisis?

Have a couple of good examples of past triumphs up your sleeve.

 

How will you…

These questions are beginning to create a future that includes you – so welcome them.
Describe what you would do within the organisation as if you are already there
Create the right picture, and the employer won’t be able to imagine a future without you 

 

What would you do if…

Some interviewers ask fantasy questions not related to reality but watch out for questions that are like verbal in-tray exercises.
You might be asked to “sell me this pencil sharpener/paper clip/biro” – prepare to think on your feet.

 

What do you need to earn?

Wrong question.
Focus on the value you can add to the employer, not your basic needs.
Find out what the company is willing to pay or work out what similar employers pay for good people.
Always throw pay questions back to the other side of the net.

 

What are your weaknesses?

Talk about weaknesses that are also strengths, e.g. being demanding of your team, being a perfectionist, pushing hard to get things done …