Interview Guidance

Hard & Soft Services Discussion via LinkedIn

Maxwell Stephens recommend that no matter how often you have been interviewed it’s always worth reviewing your techniques.

Research and Preparation

Researching the company is essential and a thorough investigation of the company’s website is a great way to find out accurate information on their business.  You could even call the company and ask for a copy of their product sales literature and keep an eye on the papers in the weeks before your interview.  It will be expected that you have done research and this effort demonstrates your resourcefulness, sincere interest and curiosity.

Points to Cover:

  • Who owns the Organisation?
  • What do they do?
  • Do they have any other offices?
  • How many employees do they have?
  • Is the company profitable?
  • What is their reputation within the industry?
  • Who are its main competitors?

Self Assessment

The client will expect you to know your CV, strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments and it is important you take time to identify these prior to your interview.  To improve your credibility you should be aware of areas that you would like to improve upon and demonstrate how you would do so to the interviewer. Areas of weakness should be accompanied by examples of how you have or are trying to overcome them – this demonstrates awareness of having weaker areas (and everyone does and should have them) but also of pro-activity and determination in trying to constantly improve and overcome them. Likewise, the interviewer will be interested in your strengths as these are what are going to make you get the job over someone else. Be aware of what your strengths are and be prepared to discuss, see below.  Know your strengths and be prepared to discuss each, in detail, with examples. The interpersonal examples should confirm your ability to work with others (being able to be part of team, motivate others, communication skills etc.), be flexible, proactive and results oriented. Your own CV should be re-read with extra time spent analysing your own skill set that apply to the job in question. It is important to try to think of all possible questions, both technical and personal, in relation to your CV. Ensure you have examples to hand of previous experiences that would fit situations that may occur in this job.

What do you want?

As well as thinking about them, make sure you think of what is important to you. e.g. People, independence, team environment, the pace of the workflow, the managerial style.

An interview is a two way process which means you will have the opportunity to ask questions and you should consider what you want to know prior to interview. Possible questions could be:

  • What are the people like in the team with whom I will be working?
  • When/how do you evaluate my performance?
  • How is it measured?
  • What is the work environment like?
  • How would you like us to work together?
  • What plans does the company have for the future?
  • What does the company structure look like?
  • What personal qualities are you looking for in this role?
  • Who? What? Why?

Note: It is imperative that you have pre-prepared questions to ask so there are no awkward silences.

The basics

  • Ensure you know how to get to the address for the interview and allow contingency time.
  • Arrive 15 minutes before your interview is recommended and you should always call if you are late and ensure you mobile phone is switched off.
  • Make sure you have the interviewer’s name, job title and ensure pronounce their name correctly.
  • Dress to make a good first impression – Be smart and presentable – Always dress smartly! Make sure your clothes are clean and ironed, shoes polished.
  • Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact
  • Remember that first impressions count– even the receptionist can be asked their opinion

The interview

It’s natural to be nervous in an interview. It keeps you on your toes and ensures you are not becoming complacent. Remember, you have been selected to attend the interview because you have the skills on paper and your consultant is confident that you are right for the role. We will only send you to interviews that match your career goals. Here are some key things to remember to do at the interview:

  • Be conscious of your posture and look interested and attentive and listen carefully and communicate concisely
  • When giving answers be concise and always keep to the point and be relevant. It is important not to ramble. When you have finished answering the question stop talking. Listen carefully to the questions, don’t interrupt and make sure your answers are actually answering the question they asked and not the one you hope they asked.
  • Sell yourself. Relate your expertise to the role, defining what you will contribute to the company. Make sure you give real life examples.
  • Be honest and positive, even if you’re not 100% positive about the role. Leave them with a good impression and then if a better job comes up in the future, they will think of you first.

Some key things to avoid when interviewing are:

  • Interrupting the interviewer.
  • Enquiring about salaries in the first interview.
  • Being over confident and pushy.
  • Using lots of jargon, it may not be meaningful to them.
  • Apathy, lack of enthusiasm or passion for the role.
  • Lack of preparation for interview – not knowing about the company or the position
  • Making negative comments with regards to previous jobs or colleagues
  • Acting desperate for a job

End on a positive

  • If you are interested in the role, make it clear of your enthusiasm for the role
  • Ask them what happens next, what the interview process involves and whether there are second stage interviews.
  • Thank the interviewer for their time.

After the interview

  • Call your consultant immediately after you have left the interview to tell them how it went. They will then follow up with your interviewer so will need to get your thoughts on the position, how it went or any issues you think need to be raised on your behalf.

Remember to learn from your interview experiences and assess your interview performance yourself. What went well?  What didn’t go well?  Also if you have been unsuccessful following interview, ask for feedback and you can use this for future interview.

Peter Forshaw, Managing Director, Maxwell Stephens

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