Advice and tips for a positive interview
Its easy to forget that a job interview goes both ways; it’s as important for you, as a candidate, to determine if the job, the company, the culture, and the work environment is right for you as it is for the company to determine if you’re right for them.
When people say a job interview should be a two-way street, they mean it—but you must make sure you actually get into the driver’s seat and take control of the conversation.
Remember a job interview gives you the chance to assess whether this is the right job for you. Unfortunately, most of us spend the entire interview just answering questions.
Don’t forget that only 7% of the interviewer’s opinion of you is formed by what you say – the rest is judged on how you present yourself.
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare….
You need to be able to sell yourself and why you want to work specifically for the company rather than just wanting a job!
- Find out where the venue is beforehand, how to get there and how long it takes
- Find out what you can about your interviewer, ensure you can pronounce their name correctly and their position. Look at their profile on LinkedIn, see if any of your business contacts know them
- Get your outfit ready the night before
- Find out what kind of interview it will be so you can prepare i.e. Competency-based, Technical, Face-to-face, Telephone, Virtual
- Examine the person specification and your CV/application form, and think about what type of questions they will ask you
- Prepare answers for the main questions – for example, why do you want the job, what are your strengths and weaknesses, what the main tasks in this job are. Have about three or four points for each answer
- Do your research, look at the company website and check their annual report and press releases. Learn as much as possible about the position from the job description.
It’s Quiz Time
Prepare your questions for them – this demonstrates your interest in them and will help you decide if this is the right move for you.
Good questions to ask are those which demonstrate your keenness to develop within the organisation and take on responsibility.
A word of caution though – make sure these are relevant to the organisation. If you are being interviewed for a position in a company of ten people, then saying you would like to develop to managing director as quickly as possible is not realistic and may put an interviewer off as they will know your expectations are unlikely to be met.
It can also be an opportunity for you to demonstrate your research into the organisation by asking about relevant articles you may have read. For example, you might say ‘I read in the newspaper last week that you are expanding into Europe. Is the company thinking of expanding into any other markets?’
It is worth remembering that the interview is also a chance to find out more about the role and the organisation so that you can make an informed decision if it is offered to you. You might want to ask:
- What does success look like for the business for this role in the first 90 days?
- What factors distinguish successful employees from less successful ones?
- What has happened to previous post-holders in terms of development?
Questions you might want to ask:
- What are the most enjoyable and the least enjoyable aspects of the role?
- Is there scope for promotion in the future?
- How would you describe the work culture here?
- In what way is performance measured and reviewed?
- What are the most important issues that you think your organisation will face?
- You have recently introduced a new product/service/division/project; how will this benefit the organisation?
- What challenges could I face in the first three months?
Dress to impress
Make sure you are dressed appropriately for the position you are being interviewed for. Some companies have a much more relaxed approach to dress than others, but always make sure you wear a smart version of the clothes usually worn by the people in the role for which you have applied. If in doubt wear a suit. You won’t be criticised for being too smart, but they will make a note of it if you come in wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt!
Check the letter carefully, particularly if there is a social element to the interview and be guided by any instructions that are given to you.
The following tips from employers should help:
- Ensure that you maintain impeccable standards of personal hygiene, but avoid using overpowering deodorants, aftershave or perfume.
- Appropriate dress – traditional rather than high fashion.
- Ensure your hair is neat and tidy.
- Ensure that your shoes and clothes are scrupulously clean and maintained. Unpolished shoes and missing buttons will not create the desired impression.
- Avoid inappropriate jewellery. Unless you are entering an extremely unconventional environment, the interview is not the place for obvious body piercings, ankle chains or personalised necklaces. Men should restrict any jewellery to cuff links, and a signet or wedding ring.
Check yourself out first!
Review your CV, think through your career history and anticipate the questions you will be asked and prepare some answers. Clients are impressed with candidates who are prepared for their interview. Rehearse with a friend or colleague if necessary.
What do they want?
List what you think the prospective employer will want from the ideal candidate and consider whether this is you. Summarise your involvement in relevant projects associated with your previous employment so when asked you can give fluent comprehensive answers to the interviewer.
Think about what challenges their business may have within Treasury and how you help beyond day to day tasks
Are you their perfect candidate?
Consider your key strengths, weaknesses and motivations for leaving your current role and desire to join the new employer. Prepare to be asked about them. Think about the contributions you have made to your current business and the ones in your last 5 roles/5 years
Remember this may be the last opportunity you will get to explore and alleviate any concerns or worries you have about the new role directly with the client prior to being offered a role, later stages of the interview process may be carried out with other company employees rather than the client themselves.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
First impressions are very important. An interview may well continue for 40 minutes or more, but studies have shown that someone forms judgements about you within four minutes of your meeting and that these judgements inform their subsequent impressions. Research shows that the first impression is made up as follows:
- 55% visual impact i.e. dress, facial expressions and other body language.
- 38% tone of voice.
- 7% from what you say.
This doesn’t mean that all is lost if you are very nervous at the outset however try to create the best first impression you can. A warm smile and firm handshake always help. It is worth remembering that you need to make a good impression on everyone you meet, so be courteous to all.
PMA – Positive Mental Attitude
You have earned this interview, so the client is obviously eager to meet you; don’t be afraid to talk about your strengths. If you have researched and prepared thoroughly you will be able to communicate why you are attracted to the role, the company and why you feel you are suitable for the position
They want you
Be positive about yourself – you have got this far so you know they are interested in you but do not waffle. Short concise responses are often better than confused answers.
Confidence versus arrogance: Strike the right balance in your interview
Be confident but not overly confident or arrogant.
The “humble brag” – How to Talk About Yourself Without Sounding Arrogant
- Be genuine. …
- Share your excitement. …
- Ask questions. …
- Be brief. …
- Be strategic about the information you share. …
- Help people understand you as a person. …
- Talk about the impact. …
- Don’t sound too humble.
You are the right person for the job
Remember throughout the interview you will need to demonstrate to the interviewer you are technically qualified to do the job and motivated to get the job done well – your positive answers should reflect this ethos. They will also be assessing whether you will fit in with the company’s culture, organisational structure and the team in which you will work.
Critical but loyal
Whatever your reason for leaving a current role avoid, where possible, open criticism of your current employer as this will only cause clients to question your loyalty and consider whether you will show the same level of loyalty to them.
Are you interested?
Prepare questions to ask them about the role and company as this will demonstrate your interest in the role.
TYPICAL INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
WHY DO YOU WANT THIS JOB?
Think carefully about this question. Stress the positive aspects which have attracted you to applying for this position.
WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU THINK WILL BE REQUIRED FOR THIS JOB?
Their advertisement for the job may help you a little bit, but you should also think of the other qualities that may be required. These may include leadership ability, supervisory skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, problem-solving, analytical skills, etc.
WHAT CAN YOU CONTRIBUTE?
This is your chance to shine. Tell them about your achievements in your previous position(s) which are relevant to the new position you are applying for.
WHY DO YOU WANT TO WORK FOR THIS COMPANY?
Emphasise the positive reasons why you want to join their company but avoid aspects such as more money or shorter hours. These would not endear you to a prospective employer.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS COMPANY?
This is your chance to impress the interviewer with your knowledge of their company. Give them a rundown of their products/services, sales figures, news, company figures, customers, etc.
WHAT INTERESTS YOU ABOUT OUR PRODUCT/SERVICE?
Again, your research into the company should aid you in answering this question.
WHAT CAN WE (THE NEW COMPANY) OFFER THAT YOUR PREVIOUS COMPANY CANNOT OFFER?
Tread carefully here! Again, do not mention money. Stress opportunities for personal growth, new challenges, etc.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
How did it go?
After the interview, consider the areas you feel went well and those that you felt you needed to work on – then actually work on them! If there are knowledge or experience gaps missing, then this may be an ideal chance to consider them and work out whether you can fill in the gaps from within your current role to improve your chances next time.
Anything you are they missed?
Also, you need to call either the consultancy or the interviewer directly for feedback and thank them for their time. This may be the appropriate time to discuss any areas that need development as they often they become less of an issue through discussion at this stage.
Ok not this time, what about next time?
If you are not successful in your job application, consider telephoning the person who interviewed you to get feedback why you were not selected. This may not be appropriate depending on the client but if you discuss this with the consultancy, they are in the best position to advise you further.
Chin up! – As a final note, please remember that not every position is the right one for you so keep your chin up and you are sure to find the role that is right for you!
- Always quote examples of when you’ve used certain skills, make them real examples – just saying you’ve got a skill isn’t enough
- Take your time when answering the questions. Make sure you understand the question and take your time if you need to think
- Remember to ask questions relevant to the position. Emphasize what you can contribute to the company and not purely why you need a job. Lack of questions are sometimes mistaken for lack of interest
- Sell yourself. No-one else is going to! Be positive about yourself and your experiences
- Prepare some questions to ask at the end – use it as an opportunity to find out more about the role and the company. But don’t ask about money or perks just yet!
- Only discuss salary if asked. When discussing salary, know your market worth
- Get feedback on your performance, whether you were successful or not, as you can learn from this for future interviews
- Turn off your mobile! Treat the interviewers with respect and give them your undivided attention
- Keep your answers focused on what you can do for the employer, not what they can do for you
- Keep positive even when confronted with a challenging question
- Remember body language is important in interviews
- Leave the interview with a “thank you” and when you can expect to hear some feedback from them
What not to do/Mistakes made:
- Do not just regurgitate the website statistics and content. Interviewers are looking for more than someone that can surf and remember company website information. They want to know you have gone above and beyond this and you really want to work for them, you need to show passion
- Don’t be late!
- Don’t be too early
- Don’t swear or use slang words
- Don’t simply answer questions with “yes” or “no”. Explain your answers and give examples where you can
- Don’t lie! The interviewer may see through you. Even if you get the job, your employer can dismiss you if they find out
- Don’t let your nerves show too much. A few nerves are normal but extreme nerves will affect your performance. Use breathing techniques and try to remember that it’s not a life and death situation – there are plenty of jobs out there!
- Don’t be arrogant and assume you’ve got the job. Nothing turns off employers more than someone who is disrespectful and over-confident
- Don’t discuss controversial topics such as religion, politics and gender relations
- Don’t read from notes or your CV. You should be familiar enough with your own history to be able to talk about it unprompted
- Don’t criticise former employers or colleagues. Interviewers may mark you down as a troublemaker and a gossip
- Don’t argue with the interviewer, no matter what. Remember to keep things positive!
- Displaying low energy. …
- Focusing too much on themselves. …
- Seeming unprepared. …
- Not having any questions.
- Forgetting to follow up
- Following up too aggressively