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Interviews: Be prepared, take control, and leave a lasting impression

Richard Schontag CAREER ADVICE, Market Insight

“There’s no reason to be nervous. You’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you.” I hear myself saying this a lot to people, but it’s an important mental shift to make ahead of an interview.

It prevents you going in with a passive mind set, and it will make you take control and be prepared. The people interviewing you will pick up on this and it will set you apart from the other candidates.

Remember, they’re already interested in you based on the experience on your CV. Now it’s time for you to sell yourself and create a connection with them.

In my experience, if you go in under-prepared the interviewers will come out feeling deflated, which is not the impression you want to leave them with.

So how do you prepare, take control and leave a lasting impression? Here’s the top four things I tell people:

1. Research the role, the business, who you’re meeting, and what their interview process is.

Make sure you know what the role is and what they’re looking for, and take a look at the company website and interviewer’s web or LinkedIn profile. You could even Google them to see what news you can find. This will ensure you know exactly what they do and what they’re looking for.

Lastly, ensure you know what their interview process is. You want to be prepared for anything and it will give you confidence going in.

2. Know what information about yourself you want to pass onto them.

From your research you should be able to pick things out from your experience that aligns with them and their business.

Of course don’t forget about everything else, but when running through your experience you want to highlight the things that will really appeal to them up front. Doing this creates a connection with them based on your skills.

Again, having a understanding of this will give you clarity and confidence in your experience, and the interviewers will pick up on it.

3. Know what you want to ask them.

If you don’t have any questions, what message does this convey to them? Furthermore, are you going to gather the information you need to make a good decision?

Make sure you prepare questions ahead of time. You could ask them questions about the work they have on at the moment and what else is planned? The size of the team? Who will you report to and/or work with day to day? What’s their expectations of the successful person for the first 3 months? 6 months? Year?

Did your research turn up anything interesting about the company or interviewers? Ask about it. This shows you’ve done your homework and will open things up.

It’s highly likely they will explore your experience in the first part of the interview, so during the discussion if something comes up that relates to one of your questions, don’t leave it - go for it and ask. This will turn the interview into a conversation, which will flow better and make everyone feel at ease.

Personally I’d steer away from the generic, “What’s the culture like?”. You’ll get a very vanilla response. What is it about culture that’s important to you? Is it collaboration? A tight-knit team? Is it working from home? Is it a particular management or leadership style? You’re way better off asking them something specific.

Lastly, by asking good questions you’ll get the interviewers to talk about themselves for a bit. This does two things; 1. It gives you a break, and; 2. When people talk about themselves it makes them feel pretty good which they’ll associate to you.

4. Show you’re engaged and want the job.

This is really simple stuff but it’s all about perception. Dress smart, have open and engaging body language (it’s really just sitting upright and not crossing your arms), take in a pad so you can show them you have questions prepared and write down notes. This also gives your hands something to do which, personally, I’ve always appreciated.

 

So, don't be passive for your next interview. Doing these four things will ensure you’re well prepared and will help you take control. This will give you confidence going in, and you’ll leave a lasting impression.
 
Remember - you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you.
 
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