So, your C.V. was successful and you’ve bagged an interview. What now? (Part 1 – Interview technique)
Congratulations: your CV has won you an interview! But now what? Here are my tips on how to make the right impression….
So, your tailored, well-laid-out CV has got you a foot in the door and a fighting chance for the job. A phone call or letter has delivered an interview and your odds to secure the role have increased significantly. You’ll be up against equally experienced and qualified people on the same shortlist, so how do you ensure you stand out and make the right impression? Here are my top tips that I share with my career coaching clients.
1. First, research the company. You should have already determined what they do to tailor your CV but fill any gaps in your knowledge of what your exact role will be on a day-to-day basis. Do you know anyone who works there who can give you informed advice?
Use LinkedIn’s search tool to find employees you could connect with, and look at the relationships between staff and your contacts – they may know people who work there and be willing to introduce you. Visit the company’s website/LinkedIn to determine who will be interviewing you: write down/learn their name(s) and job title(s). Do you share any similarities with them, i.e. have you similar interests or experience (if you feel uncomfortable about researching their profile you can change your privacy settings so that your visit is anonymous. Some people, however, argue that this visit shows initiative, and that it’s one of your marketing ‘touches’).
2. Study the job description and person specification to anticipate questions. Interviewers often use an open question format, e.g.: “Give me a time when you applied/implemented/demonstrated, etc., etc.……what did you do/what happened as a result?” Write and learn your answers so that you can deliver a confident response.
Just as I described, in my previous posts regarding the preparation of your C.V., I like to use the CAR format: Context, Action, Result. I feel this is better than the more practised STAR format; the last two letters are the same, S is for situation, and T is for task. The reason for this is because you can answer the interviewer’s question in a concise format. This is helpful, as the recruiting panel will have a set length of time for your interview. It also gives you an easy to follow, three-part structure for your answers.
It’s a good idea to work out approximately how long you’ll spend on each element/competence of the job specification: if you have an hour for your interview and they have ten ‘areas’ that seems critical, by the time they’ve topped and tailed the interview, you’ll be looking at five minutes per question. Make sure you tailor your answers to account for this.
3. Decide what to wear. This may seem an obvious tip but although it’s assumed you’ve to be formally dressed, it’s a good idea to where something comfortable – there’s nothing worse than fidgeting with an ill-fitting outfit, preferably congruent with what other employees wear at the level to which you’re applying.
I vividly remember turning up, suited and booted, for a sales presentation, only to discover it was ‘dress down Friday’. All the panel were wearing jeans….at least in a suit, I was able to remove my jacket.
For women, on the subject of whether to wear make-up, take a look at this research that suggests it’s imperative. Rightly or wrongly, over two-thirds of UK bosses said they would be less likely to employ a female job applicant if she didn’t wear make-up at her interview. Before I get angry responses, I’m not condoning this ‘requirement’; I’m just sharing it with you and saying: it happens.
4. Plan your route. Make sure you know where the building/location for your interview is and the associated arrangements for parking. Even if they have a large car park, it’s worth calling the company beforehand to see if you need to book a spot.
If you’d rather not be at the mercy of your sat-nav to deliver you calm, composed and on time to such an important meeting, it may be a good idea to have a ‘trial run’ before the day of your interview: it’s one less thing to worry about on the day itself. Doing this may also help you to gauge what the traffic’s typically like: aim to arrive at least 15 minutes before your interview is due to begin.
5. Be the best version of yourself. On arrival, introduce yourself to the receptionist. Just like anyone else you meet while you’re there, give them a smile and a polite and pleasant greeting. Take the time to build rapport with them – you never know, they might take their lunch later with your interviewer, or be their family member or friend.
If you suffer with butterflies in the stomach, that’s fine – you just need to get them to fly in formation. There’s a technique I detail in one of my previous posts that helps you to summon a feeling of confidence – not just at interviews, but whenever you like. Click here to read more.
Next week I’ll bring you more tips on interview technique that I share with my career coaching clients. If you have any questions in the meantime or want help putting together your CV, as always, contact me on 01302 220221.