- Take two printed copies of the CV that was sent to the company.
- Take documentation from projects / program examples but ensure that it does not contain any personal or confidential information about other people or your previous employer(s) or clients.
- The company: what size are they? what is their history? what is their company mission statement and/or vision? what is their corporate culture? do you know anyone working at the company? Review their web site, Twitter timeline and Facebook pages and any newspaper or journal articles to find out about their size, culture, aims, services and latest news. People Connectors will of course also provide good company information on your targeted company.
- Role: get a role specification from People Connectors and cross reference it to your experience. Look at the words used to describe the role and duties. Be clear what they mean by these words. Large companies tend to develop their own language to describe what they do and some normal English words may have have specific meanings in their corporate context.
- Market sector: what role does this company play in their market or industry. Do they see themselves as followers of trends or market leaders?
Prepare your questions
- About the company: you have done your research, but websites, news articles, tweets and advertising cannot tell the whole story about the company. Think about what would you like to know more about and what you think that an interviewer or other staff that you meet might be keen to tell you. Make sure that you questions are positive, celebrating the achievements and prowess of the company and are in no way critical of any past actions or organisations structures or management styles of the company.
- About the role: Bear in mind the words of John F Kennedy’s inaugural address: “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country..”. You have read the job specification and so there may be some areas that are not clear and you can prepare questions about this. Be careful not to present a shopping list of what you would like from the job. In the back of your mind you may well be ticking off whether it meets your requirements and you can weigh these up if they offer you the job. For the moment you need the facts about what you would be doing, your responsibilities, the skills required and you may want to enquire about appraisals and opportunities for advancement.
Prepare your answers
- Think about your strengths in relation to the role requirements What are they? What are you good at? When have you been praised for your work? What can you do better than others? Identify these and think about examples of when you have displayed these strengths.
- With regard to your weaknesses, an interviewer might ask about this and so you need to have a good response. Try to identify a weakness in the context of your work that is not an inability but a behaviour that is for the right reasons but could be improved e.g. “I don’t delegate enough” or “I have higher standards for myself than I do for others”. By stating these it shows that you are aware of them and are in control of these behaviours. Ideally you should have examples of how you counter these “weaknesses”.
- Identify the best examples from your experience which most closely illustrate your approach to the duties and responsibilities referred to in the job specification.
- Why do you want to work for xxx company and what attracts you to this role?
Think about something that really attracts you to working for this particular company and the role such as the attraction to the particular projects they are offering to work on, how you have been impressed with their company progression in their field, their commitment to sustainability….. These are of course examples and you need to think about your own drivers for wanting to work for this company in this role prior to going to the interview.
- You need to look smart and well groomed so consider whether you need a new suit, shoes, shirt/blouse and/or a hair cut or if your suit needs a trip to the dry cleaner! Do consider the normal working environment and ask advice on dress code from your recruiter if in doubt. For some companies the dress code is smart business, others it’s jeans and a smart shirt/blouse and sports companies may expect a tracksuit as normal attire, but even the more relaxed working environment can favor a smarter look for an interview.
What to take with you
- Take a copy of your interview confirmation email from the agency. This should contain all the essential details that you need including who to ask for on arrival and directions.
- Take a copy of the job specification to remind yourself about the job.
- Take two printed copies of the CV that was sent to the company. One for you and one in case the interviewer doesn’t have one.
- If appropriate take documentation from projects / program examples but ensure that it does not contain any personal or confidential information about other people or your previous employer(s) or clients.
- Get the full address with postcode
- Find local car parks and check Google Streetview for possible street parking if driving.
- Prepare driving directions or set the location in your satnav and/or smartphone.
li>If using public transport, check current timetables and allow extra time for any delayed trains/buses.
- Get the interviewer details or the name to ask for on arrival.
- Check the timings for getting there and don’t cut it too fine or you’ll arrive more stressed.
The right mindset
Interviews can be daunting, no matter how confident you are. Remember that the client is trying to find the best candidate to undertake their role and may be looking for quite niche skills. It is not a personal failing if you are not the perfect match. Be clear and confident about your strengths and have examples of situations where you have displayed those strengths. Think about those strengths on your way to the interview and on arrival.
Any interview is a two way meeting, so use the time to find about the role and the company, and let the client know how your experience and capability fits their requirements.
On the day of the Interview
- It is very important to undertake some preparation before the interview. The more you prepare, the keener you will appear and the more confident you’ll be.
- Read through the job specification again and think about how your experience matches their requirements. If you have applied for a few roles it is easy to mis-remember details of the role.
- Read properly through you CV to remind yourself of all your experience and qualifications.
- Punctuality is essential! Plan your route beforehand, and even undertake a dummy run if you are not familiar with the location or check out the route on Google Streetview. Try to be at the interview at least 10 minutes before required. Ensure you have the telephone numbers of the interviewers and your consultant in case you get delayed, so you can let the company or your consultant know if you will be late.
- When you arrive for your interview try to be calm and composed. At reception ask clearly for the interviewer and introduce yourself. Be polite to all people you encounter – they might be asked for feedback on you.
- Body language is important – look interested and don’t slouch. Maintain eye contact (but don’t stare!) and control your hands.
- During the interview make sure you listen, so that you can fully answer any questions, and explain your relevant experience. Without overselling the fact, let the interviewer know that you have done some research.
- Ask the interviewer about key areas of the role so that you can give examples as to how your experience fits. Remember, an interview is a two way meeting – don’t interrupt but help the interviewer to get the best out of you. Ask questions and let them know why you would be really suitable for the position – sell yourself but without appearing too pushy.
- Remember, the interviewer will be trying to imagine you fitting in with the team and undertaking the role – ask them if there is anything more they need to know, so that you have covered all areas.
- It’s fine to take a notepad and pen or use your phone to make a few notes to use as a prompt if you need to. Perhaps have 3 key strengths and 3 questions on the role and/or company you would like to ask in case your mind forgets some things on the day. You may not want to ask all 3 questions, but by having a list of 3, there is likely to be one left to ask when the interviewer asks ‘do you have any questions?’ It is always best to check with the interviewer first if they are happy for you to refer to the notes you have brought with you?
- If you are interested in the position, then say so, and ask what the next stage of the recruitment process will be. At the close of the interview, shake hands and thank the interviewer for their time.
And finally………Good Luck!