Whether it’s a face-to-face meeting or a virtual interview held on Zoom/Teams etc. it’s important to be fully prepared so it runs smoothly.
Over-preparation is key
When it comes to interview preparation, over-preparation is key. It's important to think about the skills you will bring to the table and how you can effectively demonstrate them. One useful approach is to write down examples of your best work, focusing on campaigns or projects where you initiated or managed successful situations. Aim for at least six recent examples that showcase different competencies such as:
To structure your examples, treat each situation as a case study and include the following details:
Questions about the company and role
Read the job spec and think about what questions you may be asked. Prepare detailed responses to a set of questions that will help you showcase your achievements and sell yourself effectively. Here are just a few questions which may come up:
Talking through your CV
Most interviewers would like you to talk through your experience and will ask:
Tips on what how to handle this:
The more experienced you are, the less you say about the early years. A good place to start is after completing your education but cover off on the first couple of roles with what you learned in the role, not what you did. Here you are laying down a foundation of skills and many interviewers don’t ask you lots of questions about skills, you are giving them what they need to know.
When it comes to roles in the middle of your career, give a short description about the company (never assume the interviewer has heard of them) and perhaps one highlight from your time there, not more than that. This of course is an achievement, something that went well and pepper in a few more skills that you built upon in your time there.
Moving to your recent experience, start to build a picture, sell what your company does, where you sit within the business, how many people in your team and a sentence about your role. ‘Setting the scene’ makes it easier for the interviewer to understand your role.
When you are talking about your current role, what you really need to be highlighting is one or two things that have gone particularly well and remember the emphasis is on the delivery of these accomplishments. Once again, talk about what skills you have built upon and learned.
Remember you are ‘selling’ your story so make sure it’s interesting and positive. It’s a good idea to time this as you really don’t want this story to be any longer than 10 minutes. The interviewer can easily take you back and ask you more about a role. Don’t feel the need to cover off on everything, this is about talking about the ‘great moments’ relevant to the role and the skills you have learned along the way.
Behaviour based questions
Now, more experienced interviewers, such as HR professionals, may be inclined to ask more behavioural questions. They are looking for you to give them examples that showcase your handled situations well and delivered. You will recognise them as they will start –
Once, again you are going to need to think before an interview, as to what they may want to know. For example, they may ask you questions around the values of the company you are interviewing with e.g. care, thoroughness, going the extra mile.
Here are a few examples to help you prepare:
It's crucial to communicate strong outcomes and achievements throughout the discussion, ensuring that your potential employer sees you as a valuable investment.
Avoid assuming that they already know about your skills or competencies as they are on your CV. Pointing this out to an interviewer is a big no no!
During the interview, be mindful of your body language, as it can significantly impact the impression you make. Studies show that first impressions are formed within 90 seconds, with 55% influenced by appearance and behaviour, 38% by voice quality and confidence, and only 7% by what is said.
Avoid common non-verbal mistakes such as failing to make and maintain eye contact, lack of knowledge about the company, lack of smiling, poor posture, excessive fidgeting, a weak handshake, playing with hair or touching your face, crossing arms, and using excessive hand gestures.
To make the best impression possible, follow these tips:
If you're interviewed by multiple people, answer the questions directed at you while occasionally glancing at the others to engage them. Building rapport through warmth, openness, and a smile is essential. Don't feel compelled to adopt a strictly professional demeanour because it’s an interview; show your personality and suitability as a potential colleague or team member. They want to know that you are going to be an interesting and fun team member so be yourself.
Confidence comes from preparation
Confidence in your body language stems from feeling prepared, highlighting your skills, and asking relevant questions. Research the company extensively, utilize your network to gather insights, familiarize yourself with the interviewers by looking at their profiles on LinkedIn and on the company website, understand their roles, and determine how you can make a difference. Dress appropriately, arrive early, and strive to make an excellent first impression.
When given the chance, express your interest in the role as a future employer won’t know you are interested unless you say. Consider sending a thank-you email if you receive a business card. Remember, preparation is vital.
At the end of the interview, many interviewers ask if you have any questions. They may have already answered a few of your questions during the meeting so have 4 or 5 up your sleeve:
In summary, by thoroughly preparing for an interview, including outlining your achievements and skills, practicing answers to common and specific questions, paying attention to your body language, and demonstrating enthusiasm, you can make a strong and lasting impression on potential employers.