Welcome to the complete guide for preparing and mastering interviews. Warning…following these instructions will drastically improve your chances of landing a new role - spare a few minutes to digest this information and you’ll become an interview expert!
First of all, it’s completely normal to have nerves before an interview - over 85%* of candidates admit to getting pre-interview nerves and/or feeling unsure of what or where to start the preparation. Something to put your mind at rest, is remember that the interviewer is on your side! Take the example of being a Lead Developer - having interviews over and over again, screening candidates…it likely isn’t their favorite part of their role - otherwise they would be much better suited to recruitment. In other words they want you to succeed, it benefits them and the business.
Where are people tripping up?
Even with both parties wanting to succeed, why are more than 50% of interviews rejected at the first stage? Well, let’s reverse engineer it together, by looking at the most common reasons for being unsuccessful in an interview;
- Lack of knowledge/research about the business
- Lack of enthusiasm towards the role/business
- Failure to build rapport with the interviewer
- Overall technical capability
- Inconsistent answers/Unable to relate experience to the new role
- Missing the calls with prior notice
Do any of these seem familiar? Well, if they do, worry no longer! We’re going to work towards making these a thing of the past for you.
So, what can you do to prepare?
- Begin mentally linking your skill set to the responsibilities of the job. This can be done by getting copies of both your CV (your skillset) and the job spec (the responsibilities). You should then begin cross referencing the two; identifying the key achievements/projects and areas where your skills overlap with the new job spec - thus preparing you for a wide range of questions that will come your way. All whilst making sure your words align with your CV and timelines when discussing your experience. After all, 88% of hiring decision makers agree that an informed candidate is a quality candidate, this also goes for the next tip!
- Spend 10-20 minutes learning about the business for each interview stage. What do they do? What is their future? What are their values? A great place to start is the company website and looking over recent articles on google news. Not only will this show how keen you are, but you can find great information about the business, which you can then use to tailor your answers towards the business mission and values.
- Be sure to have the time blocked out in your calendar with a clear method of joining the chat - often a video chat link or phone call. First impressions count, being on time and looking presentable is a great start.
- Now here’s a cheeky trick - with the uprise of remote working, remote video interviews will stick around. You can take advantage of this by strategically placing reminders around your work station, whether it be post-it notes, photos or anything that works for you that can instantly jog your memory of projects, specific stats, achievements or questions you don’t want to forget! This could be the difference between stumbling over an answer or getting back on your feet with a prompt response 😉
- Ask the recruiter for tips…they’re there to help you along the process, more often than not they’ve had someone else interview with the client and can hopefully give some pointers on questions or interview styles. Remember your success is in the best interests of the recruiter as a strong candidate will always make them look better!
- Finally, make sure you have a clean and professional LinkedIn profile & CV. This is your opportunity to create some positive energy before your first real personal impression. With social media becoming more prominent than ever it has become the norm to check professionals on LinkedIn, and sometimes even other social media platforms. Be sure there is nothing there you wouldn’t want them seeing!
What can you do during the interview?
So then, now we know how to prepare for the interview - are there any tips and tricks for during the interview? Absolutely! Based on years of experience in recruitment, hundreds of successful candidates and close relationships with a wide range of hiring managers, here are some of the best things you can do during an interview in order to be successful.
- Keep eye contact, build rapport and show a genuine interest in the person/brand - it’s super important. They’re not only looking for someone who has the hard skills, but this is someone who you may potentially work with for a long time, they want to be sure you aren’t going to be clashing in the workspace so it’s key to keep it positive, professional and courteous. As a bonus, do they have any social media presence where you can see if there is any common ground between you? E.g a sports team or hobby!
- Show real enthusiasm and praise towards the brand and what they have accomplished - after all who doesn’t like to be told they’ve done something great!? It shows you’ve looked into the brand and gives you the opportunity to tailor your answers as we discussed above. This could easily give you the edge over another candidate.
- Prepare/Ask questions, it’s not a one way street! As much as they are seeing if you’re right for them, you need to be seeing if they’re right for you. Here are some examples.
- What’s the biggest challenge when hiring for this role?
- What personal development opportunities are there?
- What are the 3, 6 & 12 month expectations for the role?
- What’s the biggest challenge you have had working here?
When in doubt, ask questions to find out more about the business!
- When you are asked a question, take a breath before answering and digest the information. This shows you can listen well, and then also allows you to put your best foot forward instead of rushing yourself. Once you’ve put words out into the air it can be very difficult to swallow them back in. Use the STAR METHOD (explain the Situation, Task, Action and Result) to present well rounded answers.
- Remember, it’s highly unlikely that you would have every single hard skill they are after, so it’s important to show you are passionate about upskilling in those areas. A general interest in personal development is a desirable trait for employers, then back it up with examples of when you have done this previously to fill them with confidence.
- At the end of the interview ask something like ‘’do you have any hesitation about my ability to perform in this role?’’. This then gives you a great opportunity to attempt to show that these hesitations needn’t be of concern, and try to show where you have displayed those skills. Otherwise these exact reasons might be the reason they make you unsuccessful and you might not get the opportunity to rectify this.
- Don’t be afraid to talk proudly of your achievements after all they want to hear them! Just be honest and be yourself! In this day and age there is an abundance of amazing employers out there - always remember if it’s meant to be; it will be. Every company and every role is different, if it doesn’t work out something else much more suited is coming your way!
Now, what should you do after the interview?
Hopefully, now you’ve got a solid understanding of how to ace an interview like a pro. As a final cherry on top you can send them an email/LinkedIn request saying thank you for their time and further express your interest in the opportunity. Now be proud you’ve taken control to maximise your chances.
If you feel there are other pointers to help other interviewees, please let us know to help others land their dream role! Also, don’t forget to bookmark this article so you can refer back to it.