The last 18 months have seen a massive experiment in remote working and that even included the interview process itself: many people have secured jobs, been onboarded, and then worked for a company, without ever actually meeting their colleagues or line management in person.
If you are a person who prefers your own company, working from home has probably been a welcome revelation but things are changing again. While many companies do continue to work from home where possible, things are changing, and our experience is that most companies are back to interviewing in person where possible.
If the last 18 months have left you feeling daunted at the thought of being back in a face-to-face interview, here are some quick tactics that can help you be prepared.
While it sometimes does not feel this way, interviewers are people too; there is no point in piling the pressure on yourself as this can be counterproductive, leading to forgetting those killer answers that you've prepared.
Always be Prepared
Wondering into an interview with no preparation means the chances of you getting the job are slim. Before you even leave to get to your meeting place, you should have the route you need to take in your head. It can sometimes help to trial the route, so you can get a good idea of timings. Obviously, this is not always possible if travelling long distance.
If you’re late then it will leave a massive impact on how the employer views you, and there is little to no room for excuses. Though, sometimes circumstances will be out of our hands. You should have your interviewer’s contact information anyway, so if you are going to be late – call ahead, let them know. Doing this shows that you are invested and care about the job, that you are responsible and able to react to problems as they arise. It also means that they aren’t left out to dry if you end up being longer than ten minutes.
If you want to be a step ahead of other candidates, take time to research the company that’s looking to hire you: look at their values, what others have said about them, what they are missing and what could improve their business. If you apply this to yourself, how you can bring that aspect that they are missing – you’ll look far more compatible for the job. And when asked a question that’s some variation of, “what can you bring to our business?” You won’t have to hesitate or think of what you should say, giving a specific response will help you to be more memorable than other candidates.
Having read through the job advert, you will know several things that they are looking out for in a candidate. Knowing this, you should be able to pull out things that they want that line up with what you have. Point this out to them. When asked the dreaded: “Tells us about yourself?" question, include these points. Have them lined up and ready to go – then you have not only gotten past that question but also made yourself look like a better match without having to go out of your way to highlight it.
At the end of the day, practice won’t hurt. If you feel nervous then rehearsing what you are going to say, how you can respond to different types of questions – everything! It won’t hurt to put your energy into something productive.
Posture and Confidence
Once in the interview, remember your posture and eye contact. Be confident, this is another one that gets a little repetitive, but we cannot stress the importance enough. Confidence will leave a good impression on the interviewer. If you’re struggle to find your confidence, then it might help you to remember that an interview goes two ways. Gone are the days where an employer could push out a list of expectations and have the perfect candidate role up. Now, a company must sell themselves to you as much as you sell yourself to them. Remember: the worst thing that can happen is they say no, that’s it. You don’t have to dwell on it, identify what went wrong and move on. And hey, if all else fails you could always try imagining your interviewer in their underwear. No, don't do that one.
Speak Clearly and Respectfully
When the pressure of doing well in an interview starts to pile up, you could end up waffling: either talking too much or too little (sentences that tail off and don't make a point, are a sure way to fail). Whichever you end up defaulting to is just as bad as the other, you either look clumsy and ramble on about information that they really don’t know to hear, or they cannot get anything relevant out of you.
The way that you speak about others reflects hugely on you: if all you do is complain and complain about everything everyone has done, an employer will be put off. The negativity that you spout will rub off onto them and just be a turning point: instead be neutral. It doesn’t matter exactly how past employers treated you, but if you can show that you can view the experience from more than one perspective then you’ll look far better in their eyes. Your mantra should always be: "Be realistic but positive about my last employer. " When you talk badly about someone, the person listening can perceive that you will have no qualms about talking behind their back in the same way. Be professional.
You are likely to have heard this time and time again, and rightfully so! It’s something that is so simple yet there are still enough interviewees not doing it that we have to say it again. And while it’s so much easier to just say you have no questions and move on from the interview – it's another chance to show that you are committed to the role.
Asking relevant questions shows that you are interested and that you have been actively listening to the interviewer. If you are unsure of what you could ask, here are our killer questions that can help you to stand out:
When you think about the person doing this role in 6 months' time, what do you imagine?
This question is clever because it allows you, as the interviewee to really gain an understanding of what the hiring manager is looking for. Listen carefully and pick up on the key phrases and then move forward into a discussion, subtly referring back to yourself and showing how you meet the needs.
If I were successful, what would I be expected to achieve in the first 3/6 months?
Never forget that you're interviewing the company too. If there is no plan, or worse, a culture that leaves you to sink or swim, with no clear direction. This is your opportunity to weed it out. Listen to your gut here.
Ask about the long-term direction of the company, how the role can grow with it and then lead the discussion onto your own career aspirations and the longer-term commitment and growth that you can bring to the business.
The theme with these questions is that they all provide the opportunity to move the conversation into a deeper discussion that can be more conversational and less one sided. Once the conversation gets going, it is much easier to feel at ease, develop rapport and leave the interviewer feeling positive with how the meeting went.
Once the interview has finished (usually a day later), say thank you, it goes a long way and really – it's just polite. Send a thank you note or email: while it may not always help your chances, it just shows your appreciation and even if you don’t get the job, they may keep you in mind for a future role that could suit you better.
There is no silver bullet that can ensure success at an interview, but these hints and tips should allow you to feel more prepared and confident. That goes a long way to giving you the edge over others and help you secure the role.
Brian specialises in delivering recruitment projects for companies across the UK and is passionate about helping organisations to succeed by treating recruitment, development and retention of staff holistically.
Whether you're looking to grow or are finding it hard to attract the right candidates, Brian will be happy to meet with you to understand the challenges and discuss solutions that can help you achieve your growth plans while saving you the time and energy that you could otherwise use to focus on your business.
Get in touch with Brian for an informal chat about your needs