Great news. Your CV has impressed and you’ve been invited to an interview. Now for the critical preparation stage increasing your competitive edge and chance of being offered the job. Every interview is different – formal or conversational, one or more interviewers, in-person or online. Remember, it’s a two-way process to share and clarify information. They’re keen to learn more about you, and you need to understand the role and if it’s going to be right for you.
Demonstrating your knowledge during the interview will make you stand out. Be curious. Research the industry and the organisation – size, locations, services, products, customers and competitors. Explore their website – how do they describe their stated values and culture? Use Google – perhaps the company has been in the news? What challenges might it face and what opportunities? Using LinkedIn, you can gain insight into the backgrounds of those you’ll be meeting to help inform the conversation. Reflect on why you want this job. What excites you? Be ready to define your interest and the value you bring. What’s in it for them? What’s in it for you? You may be asked why you left your last position. Thinking in advance will ensure a confident response. If the position was disestablished, people understand this. The best approach is to be concise, honest and positive for the future.
Whatever the interview format, it will likely include some behavioural questions. These aim to measure your past experience directly relevant to the role. They typically start with, “Tell me about a time when …” or “Give me an example of where you have ...”. During your preparation, review all information including the job advertisement and position description if available. Try to identify the key requirements. If you were the interviewer, what would you want to know? Having a sense of their needs helps you anticipate question topics and frame your best corresponding examples.
During the interview, you will be glad of your preparation. Be attentive, engaged and share your relevant achievements. Pause to consider the purpose of each question. Is it about leadership? Teamwork? Flexibility? Choose a situation from your experience which demonstrates that capability. Then, how to you tell that story? Keep it succinct and relevant. Highlight outcomes. Think CAR. This stands for: Circumstance (a brief situation outline); Action (what you did); Results (what was the outcome for the customer, team or business?).
When asked, “Do you have any questions?”, a quality response will be powerful. Drawing from your earlier research and discussion, your question to impress will depend on the role level and scope. Some examples of good questions are: What drives success in your team? Can you explain the mentoring available to help me progress? What were the main challenges your team faced during lockdown?
Post-interview, consider a follow-up email or LinkedIn message to confirm your commitment. Then comes the waiting. If unsuccessful this time, stay connected for possible future openings or introductions to others. Good luck.
Robyn Webb, Pohlen Partners