Improve your call back to 2nd stage interview rate and take control of the hiring process
Learn how to best prepare for an interview not making common errors we see and hear about all too often
Get the most out of the interview process, giving you the information you need to make a decision
Interview Details: Have the full name, job title, career background and a brief on the interviewers personality
Interviewers perspective: What angle are they assessing you from? When HR the main concern likely being your fit within the culture, so don’t be technical. If the hiring manager it will likely be if you possess the right skills and experience, and whether they can work closely with you. If a board member than be strategic and commercial, demonstrating your knowledge of the industry and company as a whole.
Date & Time and time zone: We weren’t sure whether to include these but it is our 101 section! But too often candidates have meetings before the interview that overrun, or ample travel time not taken. Just be careful.
Interview Style: Know what you’re facing, each has it’s own approach
The traditional interview – one to one running through the CV, the opportunity and getting to know each other
The phone interview – first round screening to see if you’re communication is in keeping with the CV
Video Interview – increasingly necessary since Covid, taking the phone to a more intimate level, and for now replacing a face to face interview
The test interview – often preparing analysis for results, or testing Excel, verbal and numerical reasoning. Assuring your competency is what your CV states
The Lunch, coffee or evening drink – a more relaxed setting to gain insight to you as a person
Group or panel interview – multiple interviewers, often quick fire questioning with each playing panel member assessing
Back to Back Interviews – A series of one on one meetings with a cross section of seniority and functional discipline
NB: Each has it’s own considerations, BSR will tailor preparation to each style. Common mistakes include not having thought about your background for a VC, drinking one glass too many in evening drinks or not spreading focus and attention across the whole panel.
Dress Code: Dress to impress but also mirror the company dress code. Best practice being shoes polished, suit pressed, bag cleared out of receipts and wrappers, best pen and notepad at the ready, CV printed, haircut if needed, beard trimmed or a fresh shave etc….just make the necessary efforts in the day/s leading up.
The Four Chains of Thought
You Must Consider!
Can I do the job?
Compare you skill-set and experience against the specification requirement, anticipate potential shortfalls. Get to know your CV inside and out. Get to know the main requirements of the role, make sure you have direct or at least transferable examples. If not then show your willingness to learn and plug the gaps. Prepare three to five selling points of why you feel you are the best candidate for them, focus around the value you bring.
Do I want to do the job?
Why the company is of interest, its unique position within the industry, how they stack up against their competitors, what are it’s competitive advantages, what opportunity and challenges does it face? Why the role of interest? What career impact will it have? Does it align with your career path goals?
Show that you have put time and energy into planning your career, that the opportunity is a crucial step toward your future goals. Knowing the answer to these questions will not only show your audience you’re there for well considered and contextualised reasoning, but it will enthuse you which will come across in the interview.
Will I fit in?
Hopefully the interview is relaxed, open and two way. Making this easier to fathom, particularly when given the opportunity to ask open questions around the immediate and wider teams cultures. But think about how you will build rapport if the interviewer is closed off, poker faced as candidates can often react negatively as a result. Don’t allow this to happen. Try to break this dynamic and build a less standoffish relationship, that you’re both on the same side. You could say something as simple as, “Thanks, for giving me the opportunity to learn more about X, and for you to discover about me, to see if this is a good match and that we could work well together. So tell me, what do you think I would like about working here?”
How long will I stay?
When assessing the role, work out how it fits into your career plan, and how long realistically you see the opportunity satiating your career progression. 2-3 years when newly qualified through to manager and 3-6 years when controller through to director. You may need to pry into the evolution of the role, internal talent management programmes, examples of others who have progressed. Often you have to manage your career yourself, by moving to another organisation, but knowing what they do to develop staff is a good indicator as to how you will be treated.
Research, Research & Some More
Maybe start with their Google?! And equally as obvious their Wesbsite.
Glassdoor, read reviews for juicy gossip but do take with a pinch of salt as they are anonymous and therefore can be exaggerated or overly negative/positive
Linked-In, who works there at the company, what are their backgrounds, average tenure, what is the company posting
Financial Results via Companies House ‘Beta’ if Ltd, or public results if PLC along with broker reviews and share price history
Twitter if they have an account
Reach out to anyone in your network who has worked there
Ask your recruiter about the interactions and relationships they’ve had so far, inside scoops they’ve heard warts and all.
Prepare as much as you have time for
Competency Based Questions
Important! Don’t get bogged down with having an answer for every question, often interviewers are more interested in the way you go about answering the question than the right answer
There are 100s of common competency-based and typical interview questions you can prepare for. But it is useful to have a view, and if practising do it out loud.
Check these out for starters https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/100-potential-interview-questions
We’d like to highlight a few and also techniques to use.
Competency based interviewing
Competency based interviewing is a series of scenario-based questions designed to examine your strength across a number of soft skills. “Describe a situation when……” or “Tell me about a time when…..” and these are best answered when using the following
S.A.R or S.T.A.R technique
Many people recommend using SAR (Situation-Action-Result) as a model for the story. Or go one step further and use STAR (Situation-Task-Action-Result) but for some it makes it too lengthly.
Situation – setting the scene, giving a context and background
Task – Your role in the situation
Action – what your response was.
Result – a quantified and qualified outcome
IMPORTANT! Nail the “Tell me about yourself” question.
Not having a well thought out answer is not an option. Too many act surprised! How should you respond? Not with a life story but with points that sell you candidacey. Think about your personal statement on the CV, but tailored towards your preperation of ‘Can I do the job’ (see above).
“I won’t give a life story, but how about few things I think are important for you to know?” You will get permission. “Well, regarding the first point, [give your example]. And when I was working for [company], I [example of another selling point].” Etc. Focus the first 10-15 minutes of the interview on all of your key selling points, the moment you start talking about role specific experience, they will interject.
It's a Two Way Process
What Should You Get Out of It?
Prepare intelligent questions, demonstrate your intrigue, interest and insight. For example;
- If you could design the ideal candidate, what would they be like?”
- What will make someone in this role, team and company succeed?
- What are the future prospects?
- Why do you think I should take this opportunity?
Don’t be afraid to ask different people the same question and don’t be afraid to interject during the interview.
Express yourself clearly.
Smile as much as possible during the interview.
Turn your mobile phone off during the interview
Be assertive without being aggressive
Stay positive about previous employers.
Do not talk about the salary and benefits package – getting an offer is the main priority and salary negotiations will follow.
Try to maintain eye contact
Avoid talking too much, if you think you’re waffling then pause
If you are late, apologise once
Have good energy and enthusiasm
Express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time.
Close on a positive note
Give a firm but not too firm handshake
Have good posture
Refrain from answering questions with a yes or no
Answer all questions truthfully and honestly
If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification
Avoid clichéd answers to questions such as “I’m a great team player”