It’s no surprise that we’ve written a number of blogs about interviewing, giving snippets of advice and wisdom that we’ve accumulated over the years. We’ve seen or heard almost every story (the good, the bad and the ugly) over the last 10 years. I thought I would draw together previous blogs, and build out on previous content for one comprehensive guide on what you can do before an interview to make sure you’re prepared to give the best account of yourself and your experience.
If you’re about to go to an interview, take heed of the below…
Spend a couple of hours actually following this advice and I guarantee you’ll walk into the interview feeling more confident and be in a position to best showcase your experience and talent.
The importance of preparing for an interview
For those that haven’t contextualised the interview process, here’s a quick insight into the mind of the person who is interviewing you. The interviewer wants to assess whether you’re the right fit for the role. In the short period of time that you spend together, they will be tailoring their questions to give you the opportunity to demonstrate that you:
- Have the right technical experience for the role
- Can demonstrate the behaviours that they look to employ within the business
- Can make the impact / deliver on the expectations of the position
- Have done your research
- Are the right cultural fit for the organisation
You could probably break down further but those are the key ones. Here are some really simple ways to make sure you can understand what they are looking for you to demonstrate, and make sure you are prepared to answer their questions in the best way possible.
1 & 2. Having the right technical experience for the role & demonstrating the behaviours that they look to employ within the business
I’ve combined both of these for a simple reason; preparing for them is exactly the same process for both. Check out one of my previous blogs to help with answering competency questions with confidence.
Your interviewer needs you to demonstrate you have the technical and behavioural competencies that are required for the role. The business spent time and money deciding what these are for a reason!
I won’t repeat the blog content, but here’s what you’ll find if you follow the link above;
- What a competency question is & how you can spot them
- Examples of different competency questions
- How to know what competencies to prepare for
- The best way to structure your answers / examples
3. Can you make the right impact / deliver on the expectations of the position?
When the role you’re applying for became vacant (if being backfilled) or was created (if a new position) the business realised that they needed to hire somebody. Part of the process of deciding what this new person needs to have is to look at what impact this person will be making, and to tailor the interview to encourage the interviewee to demonstrate they can make this impact.
I believe that the easiest way to ensure you’re prepared for this is to think about your first 12 months in this role. You don’t need to (unless instructed!) prepare a massive presentation to achieve this. But do make sure you consider the below points in understanding what (if you were to join) impact you would be able to make, and how you would make it.
- What would your rough plan be? (3, 6, 12 month checkpoints)
- What challenges do you expect to encounter (and how would you overcome those challenges)?
- What challenges does the business face that may affect this role? How would you overcome those challenges?
- What relationships would you need to build within the business etc… ?
If you can step into an interview knowing what impact you will be able to make and can demonstrate it in a clear, concise and considered manner, think how easy you just made the interviewer’s job! Even if they don’t ask the specific question ‘what would you achieve in the first 12 months of being in the business’ the research and consideration you will have done will tie together and contextualise, in your own mind, the value that you can bring to the table in the role. You will be able to communicate this a lot more concisely now it’s clear in your head.
4. Have you done your research?
For anyone that’s interviewed somebody for their business / team it will be undoubtedly obvious whether a candidate has researched the business and used that information to assess whether the organisation / role is a good fit for them or not.
Not only this, it also shows the interviewer that you have taken a real active interest in the organisation and have demonstrated a great virtue from the beginning.
I wanted to share with you a blog that my colleague Katie wrote about researching a company before attending an interview. Again I won’t repeat the content but it breaks down 10 easy steps to ensure you’re well prepared before you sit yourself in front of a prospective employer.
5. Make sure you’re the right cultural fit for the business
I’ll use this point as an opportunity to make another; you shouldn’t go into an interview and reel off your prepared material like a robot. This is not what this guide is for, this guide is to ensure that when the interviewer tailors their questions to encourage you to demonstrate what they need you to, you can give the best examples and not the first one that pops into your head on the spot and under pressure.
So on this point, don’t go in looking to exhibit the demeanour and characteristics of what you think will be the right cultural fit for the business. Be yourself, be natural but be prepared! You’re not going to be the right cultural fit for every business, but equally not every business will be the right cultural fit for you!
Unfortunately you can’t predict every question that an interviewer will ask you (although here’s a blog that will give you a few of the most common ones!) so it’s going to be impossible to script the duration of the meeting or know exactly what’s coming up. This isn’t what this blog is for.
What this blog is for is helping you stand out from the crowd at a time where stakes can be incredibly high. If you’re going for an opportunity that is going to make a big difference in your career and your life then don’t make the mistake of having to look back and question whether you could have spent a fraction of your day doing that little bit more that would have made a massive difference.
Really think about what your interviewer is looking for from this position and ensure you demonstrate the required skills / attributes during the meeting. Use the tools in this article to understand where you can easily find this information, and then use it to your advantage.