Advice for Candidates
Look up “interview advice” on Google and you’ll get more than 3 million search results. This tells us that there is a substantial demand for help when looking for a job. While most of us at some time have been in the position of uncertainty around what to say and what not to say at an interview, the simple truth is that nobody is an expert. Nobody really teaches you this stuff and in fact you just learn it as you go.
In fact most interviewers aren’t experts in interview techniques themselves and also learn it as they go. This is the one thing in common between an interviewer and interviewee.
We are not telling you the right or wrong answers – we would not claim to be so supercilious. However through our years of combined industry knowledge and experience we have a set of simple guidelines that we work with our candidates to, that go towards ensuring they ‘give their very best’.
Have you ever walked out of an interview and said to yourself, “I should have said this, I should of said that and why didn’t I ask that!” etc. Whilst this happens all the time, it’s about minimising these risks and ultimately having a feeling of “I did my very best” and I am confident I will secure this opportunity.
Being invited for an interview essentially means you’ve effectively convinced a potential employer that you are capable of doing the job. A face to face interview is your chance to show that you are the best candidate available. It’s not one way traffic though – it allows you to decide if the role and company are right for you also.
Prepare, Practice & Perform
Researching a company prior to interview is absolutely imperative. Of course any good recruitment consultant will have given you a wealth of information i.e. job specs, website links etc, but ultimately only you can spend the time studying their business. Know what their recent performance is, values, employees, products and services. How relevant are these to you? It may make a difference to the interviewer’s impression of how enthusiastic you are for the job. It may also provide you with some relevant and thought provoking questions & answers.
Is it true first impressions count? Well according to research YES they do. There is so much information around this, lots aren’t relevant, however sometimes the simple things are overlooked. 69% of prospective employers cited that personal hygiene and cleanliness were a major factor in promoting a good first impression. More than 50% rate formal business attire as highly important. Remember unless asked to dress down – dress up!
Arrive on time – Be certain of the route to your interview and allow plenty of time for bus, train or traffic problems. Arriving early, allows you to prepare mentally and compose yourself. In the unlikely event you are running late, contact us or call the interviewer and let them know immediately.
Remember when preparing, the interview is the main event, however it starts long before you have entered the building – so get prepared.
Once you are there
Check your phone – there is now no need for it to be switched on. Almost all employers are seriously unimpressed by this lapse.
Interestingly a considerable percentage of employers rated talking with the receptionist or secretary important. A personable or informal chat will make a good impression and put you at ease before the interview.
Once your host arrives stand up straight, smile, introduce yourself and shake their hand. Did you know that out of 184 business leaders questioned, 125 of them said a good firm handshake was also regarded as highly important.
Try to make conversation during the walk from reception to the interview area. Most people do not realise that this is your opportunity to sell yourself before you sell anything else. It is debated that subconsciously the interviewer makes decisions about whether they like you or not and whether you will fit in to the team within this 30 second period.
You’ve got this far, so now is your chance.
How to start the interview is critical. Use formal address to your interviewer unless invited to do so otherwise. Remember your manners and your basic body language. Slouching in your chair or leaning on the interviewers table is a bad idea – a high proportion of employers take negative body language seriously and harbour doubts over the suitability of a candidate.
Maintain eye contact, exude confidence and be enthusiastic. Energy, sureness and self-expression count positively to interviewers.
Ask questions that demonstrate the sophistication of your thought processes. Remember what you did when you prepared. The interviewer will want to see your ability to achieve results and translate past accomplishments into qualities that relate to the employers requirements for the position.
Don’t waffle. Waffle is not good. Its shows uncertainty and lack of focus and clarity. Don’t go on too long, it’s a fine line between emphasising your abilities and overstating your case. Unless you have something vital to add, let the interviewer take the lead in any inter-question pauses.
Always be careful of sensitive issues. Sometimes it’s good to be opinionated but an interview is rarely the place to get on your perch! Strongly expressed opinions are unlikely to do you any credit so present a balanced viewpoint on such issues.
Don’t be negative about your current or former employer/s and accenture the positive reasons for wanting to leave your current job.
Prepare (that word again) for the unexpected. There is a growing tendency among employers for a more interactive interview. This can stimulate a more open discussion as it is felt provides candidates an opportunity to present themselves in a more proactive way.
There’s nothing wrong with injecting a little humour when appropriate – although remain from your best party trick or stand-up comedy routine! A high proportion of employers rate a little appropriate humour highly.
Don’t leave the interview empty handed
Should the employer indicate there are other candidates for interview, try to find out as much information as possible regarding the process. How many stages? Any further testing? Who else is likely to conduct interviews? How quickly are you looking to appoint?
These snippets of information will give you an advantage and allow you to prepare further for your next interview.
On leaving thank the interviewer for their time and emphasise that you enjoyed the experience and you are confident in your ability, skills and experience to meet the requirements of the role.
Shake hands firmly!
The truth is that interviewing will never be a piece of cake. Most people do find it tough and perhaps that’s not a bad thing. It shouldn’t be easy. That’s not to say it should be an unpleasant experience but let’s not forget that the purpose of the interview process is to test, ask questions and find out if it is the right opportunity for both you and the employer.
We hope that as a candidate following these simple guidelines, they will go towards helping you give your best at interview.