You've tailor made the perfect CV, and landed the interview. How do you make a lasting impression and get the job?
Okay so it may seem obvious, turn up on time, look smart and do your best. Yes, but no. Preparing for an interview to make you stand apart from the other candidates you are competing against is so much more than that. Although there are a lot of things to consider, I have tried to condense this down in to a list of points that, in my opinion, are the most important.
1. First things first, do your research. Research the company in as much detail as you can. Review the company website, taking note of any recent news. Speak to your recruiter and ask if they have any insight into the company that you might not necessarily be able to find online. Your consultant will know more about the environment you will be working in, the company culture as well as the employer’s expectations and candidate requirements.
To expand on this, it is important to find out specific facts about the company:
- What are its products and services?
- What is its growth potential for the future?
- Who are its main competitors?
- How is it viewed in the market place?
I’d also advise to research into common interview competency questions so there are no surprises. Know your strengths. Know how to shape your weaknesses. Practice answering them with your recruiter. After all we do this every day, so take advantage of our knowledge in this area!
2. Show what you know by taking the time to make a match between your expertise and the requirements of the company so you can sell yourself in the interview. Take some examples of previous work, for example in compliance you may take an example [providing it’s not confidential] of how you embedded a framework from scratch; that usually goes down a treat.
3. Next, presentation. As the old saying goes, first impressions count. In the modern world of “cool” and “hip” company cultures coming to fruition, dress codes within companies are becoming very different and on two completely different sides of the spectrum. On one side, you have the corporates; the financial service bods. On the other side, you have the Shoreditch vibes; the fashion gurus, the digital companies, the FinTechs. Make sure you dress appropriately. I’m sure if you turned up in a suit to an e-commerce company they may consider you not to have a clue about their business.
Spend some time getting the perfect outfit ready the night before to avoid any stressful situations on the day. Oh, and also, take a pen and paper to take notes.
4. Pen ultimately, punctuality. Be on time. By on time I mean early, but not too early. 10 minutes before does the trick. If you are driving to the interview I usually advise candidates to do a reccy to the office so you know exactly where you are going on the day. If your interview is in the city and you work there already, pop over to the office on a lunch break prior to the interview. Nothing, and I mean nothing is worse than the feeling of being lost when you are on a time constraint. And yes, I’m speaking from experience!
5. Finally, ask questions. Never, ever, say you have nothing to ask in the interview. It’s too blasé these days, and potential employers want you to come across like you want the job. Obviously don’t look desperate – jeez – make sure you say the right things. Ask more in-depth questions about the role, and about the company culture.
So, to summarise; do your research, present yourself appropriately, turn up early, and ask questions. You know what they say, fail to prepare and prepare to fail.
One last thing and it does sound cliché, but remember to smile! Now that’s a powerful tool.