The final part of our job hunting series this week focuses on perhaps the most daunting part of the process, the interview. You've spent all your time building up your portfolio and presence online, fine tuning your CV and sending out applications. After all of that, you've gotten a number of responses from companies inviting you in for an interview. After all that hard work, you want to make sure that it goes smoothly so here are a number of tips to keep in mind.
1) Before The Interview
2) On The Day Of The Interview
3) Phone & Skype Interviews
4) CEO Advice
5) Additional Resources
Before The Interview
Do Your Research: It might be obvious, but if you're going for an interview, make sure that you research the company. The majority of them have websites, blogs and social media profiles so have a look at them, understand the tone of the company, what they do and who they work with. Jot some notes down about what you see so that you'll have a easier time remembering and you'll be able to formulate an idea about the company
If you have a number of interviews coming up in a short space of time, it might be difficult to do thorough research, but make sure you have some main points about each company and position before you do anything else.
Prepare For Questions That Will Be Asked: You won't know exactly what questions will appear, but you can at least anticipate what's going to come up. Obvious ones like what you will bring to the position, your experience, interests, why you applied, what kind of salary are you expecting, where you want to be in five years time tend to come up so there's no point leaving it to chance.
The worst thing that can happen is if you get off to a bad start as it will ruin your momentum for the rest of the interview. Having questions prepared will ease you into the interview and make you feel more relaxed, which in turn will make you more confident as the interview goes on.
Also worth keeping in mind are behavioural questions - those that refer to previous experience, how you reacted to a situation and what you've learnt from previous situations. While it isn't day to prepare for them, remember that what the interviewer is looking for is how you handled the situation and what the results were. The Art Of Manliness and Fast Company go into detail about how best to handle such questions.
Do A Practice Interview: This is dependent on whether you have friends or family free to help out, but if you do, ask them to interview you and ask you questions. Give them a list of questions to ask you and work from there. A good concise answer
Prepare Questions: Usually interviewers will ask at the end if you would like to ask any questions. This is a great opportunity to show your enthusiasm as well as your interest. Try to prepare at least three questions before hand (five preferably) as the chances of some of them being answered during the interview is high.
See If You Have Any Connections: Chances are the jobs you're going for are hotly contested so if you know somebody in the company (or have a friend who knows someone), then it's nice if you can convince them to put in a good word for you. This doesn't mean - by any stretch of the imagination - that you'll get the job, but getting a personal recommendation never hurt.
If you're applying for a company you're not overly familiar with, there is a smart way of finding out if you've got any connections there. Chances are the company - either on its site or their blog - will have a Facebook like box installed on its page. This mightn't seem important, but when you sign into Facebook, this like box will show if any of your friends like the page. However, apply common sense to this. If it's a local or national business or company you want to work at, then this could help out, but if it's a large brand like Coca-Cola, then it won't work.
On The Day Of The Interview
Don't Make Things Difficult: You want to enter the interview calm and relaxed so make sure you have everything prepared the night before. Decide how you're getting there, have all necessary items ready and in-place and leave early to account for delays. If the company is close to any amenities, then it's a good idea to leave extra early and kill time at a cafe before the interview. That way, you can review notes and relax, knowing that it will only take you a minute to walk over there.
Be Punctuational: Unless something dramatic happened, being late sends out the wrong message and only leaves you fighting an uphill battle.
Dress For Success: The saying "Dress for the job you want, not the job you have" applies in any interview. A professional appearance will always leave a good impression so make sure you put the effort into looking good.
Show That You're Passionate: The logic is that if you're passionate about what you're talking about in the interview, then you'll be passionate when you're working in the job full-time. Whenever you get the chance
Stick To The Point: If you're asked a question, make sure you don't get sidetracked when answering. The interviewer's time is limited and he/she does not want to listen to you ramble on. Keep answers focused and to the point and whatever you do, don't talk about your personal life. Very rarely is it ever relevant in an interview situation.
Phone & Skype Interviews
Sometimes an interview can take place abroad or at a part of the country that is too far away for you to travel. Other times, you will need to do a phone interview first before you can proceed to the next round. Either way, there will be instances where you'll have to do it from home so while the above rules apply, here's a few other things you need to keep in mind
Clear Your Room Of Distractions: Make sure nobody can disturb you while you're doing your interview. Family, friends, pets, TV, radio, and anything else that could potentially distract you should be out of your way.
Dress For Success: If it's a Skype interview, then make sure you're dressed smartly for the interview. Even if it is within the comfort of your own home, there's no excuse for laziness. In short, treat the interview like you would if you and the interviewer are in the same room.
Have Water Handy: It's nice to have a glass of water around in case your mouth gets dry.
Use A Landline Phone: Unless you have perfect reception on your mobile phone, it's better not to take any chances and use a landline phone in case dodgy reception rears its head.
So we've offered our own advice about the best ways to approach an interview, but what do those at the top think? We asked a number of prominent CEO's what they consider when looking for a candidate and offer their own advice.
Caelen King - CEO of WhatClinic.com
WhatClinic.com helps patients get treated by providing as much information as possible about clinics worldwide. The site provides information like treatment lists, reviews, testimonials, costs and contact details to help patents make informed choices when looking for a clinic.
1. Always, always, always write a specific cover letter for each role.
2. When interviewing with a CEO, where a department head has already interviewed you, be prepared for an interview that is going to focus on who you are as an individual rather than your skill set. Fundamentally, an interview process is trying to answer three questions: Can you do the job (department head should already have done this)? Do you want to do the job? Can we tolerate each other (most important question in team building)?
3. If applying for an entry level job, be aware that that you will be competing against a flood of CVs, sometime hundreds for the one role. The only way for a company to shortlist this down to a manageable number of candidates is to take a negative approach - instead of looking for good candidates, they will initially look for any reason to exclude candidates so that they can get the number down to a list they can actually read. Typically the following are excluded: No cover letter, spelling mistakes in email, not referring to the role specifically (I believe I am perfectly suited to the role), incorrect email etiquette, CV is in some non-standard file format. Spelling mistakes. Do not give the review any reason not to read your CV.
4. Your cover letter is much more important than your CV.
Robin Blandford - CEO of Decisions [D4H]
Decisions is a multi-award winning software product that reduces incidents and improves operations by making emergency response teams more accountable and better prepared. It does this through recording and analyzing operations, members, equipment and training.
Assume anything you post online is being posted on the noticeboard in the middle of your town square - it has to pass the Mum Test: "Would I want my mum seeing that?" We use plugins on our email like LinkedIn's Rapportive that tries to piece together all known information about you. When your CV arrives by email, beside it are your latest tweets and posts, and a link to that Bebo or MySpace profile you created when you were 14.
We'll check-out your LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Vimeo and all the others. If I'm hiring you into a job that is primarily based around online relationships with our customers, I'm going to go deep into each of these to see how you conduct yourself online and your level of common sense.
Use LinkedIn or search online to find the firstname.lastname format of the companies email address, and send some emails in to key contacts in the company you are prospecting asking for some information on something relevant as you're preparing for an interview with them. They'll probably forward your email to the person interviewing you, mission accomplished.
Kealan Lennon - Founder and CEO of CleverBug
Cleverbug specialise in designing, printing and delivering business cards, flyers and promotional material. Offering a fast, efficient and high quality service, Cleverbug guides you through the creation process with ease and simplicity, and will take any extra steps required to make sure you get the best product possible.
Social media companies like Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest are redesigning their business models around relevance and personalisation. It's no longer about content but people. Businesses that place people at the centre of their business model will win. Friends are the key to influence in all aspects of life. For years, marketeers have strived for success with referral based marketing. Social networks connect groups of independent friends.
When you are looking for a job, you are not a business you are an individual, but you need to adopt the very same advanced marketing techniques as these companies;
- Research and know your interviewer (your customer).
- Your interviewer is a person, with friends, or friends of friends, who you will know.
- Friends are the key to influence in all aspects of life, use them appropriately.
- In an interview, don't "get personal" with your interviewer, but be very relevant where you can, and do get personal with the company you are interviewing for.
Leverage social media - your interviewer will!
Ken Fitzpatrick - CEO of Simply Zesty
Simply Zesty is a social media and marketing agency. Its aim is to keep your business at the forefront of social media and online communication and engage with your customers in a meaningful way.
1. Pick the three points that you want to make in an interview and make sure you have delivered those points before you leave.
2. We all know the standard interview questions - make sure you have practised your answers to these beforehand.
3. Be passionate about your interest in the role, not passive.
- Lifehacker has a vast number of articles which focus on job interviews, including this handy interview one-sheeter, and recommendations about what questions to ask your potential employer after it.
- The Art of Manliness goes through the concept of behavioral job interviews and what you can do to prepare.
- The Wall Street Journal offers its own tips about how to prepare for that important interview.
- As does The Undercover Recruiter which offers its own set of advice.
- The Fast Company get ten tips from a CEO headhunter and focuses on how to best tackle the trickier questions.