Face to Face Tips
Preparation is one of the most important factors that can determine your success at interview. Demonstrating that you have done the appropriate research will show that you are interested and committed to getting this job and can reliably complete tasks. Failing to adequately research the company will most likely lead to an immediate no.
So, how should you go about your preparation?
About Us - This section of an employer’s site will give you valuable information about the company’s culture and what their ambitions are. Find things about the company that you particularly like – as interest in these areas will come across as genuine enthusiasm.
Products - Use this area to get to grips with what your prospective employers do. It may sound obvious, but having a clear understanding of the products or services will impress the manager interviewing you, yet failing to provide an adequate answer to the question, “so, what do we do?” could decide the interview then and there.
Responsibilities – Get to grips with what you’ll be doing in the role. It’s important to understand what your day-day responsibilities will be so that you can explain how your background will enable you to perform in this role.
Requirements – Understand what they need to see in order to offer you the position. This is a good opportunity to discuss what the employer is looking for with your consultant. The fact that they are bringing you in for a face-face means that you have the required skills on paper. Now you need to back that up. Study the job description’s requirements to understand what they want to see from you.
Your Response – Make sure you run over your CV and are able to justify any gaps and explain the reason you left your previous company, or why you are looking to leave now. This is an important step because your prospective employer is assessing how serious you are about moving company whilst looking for any red flags.
Your Questions – An interview is a two way assessment. On the one hand, you are trying to sell your experience and ability to the employer but if they feel you are the right person for the job, then it is up to them to sell the role so that you would consider accepting an offer.
Therefore, it is in your interest to ask questions. If you don’t ask questions this may come across as not being interested – so do have some prepared and write them down so you don’t forget them. It’s perfectly ok to refer to this written list during the interview.
Plan and organise
Find out the most suitable way to get to the company and make sure you have enough time to get there if there is bad traffic or a problem with transport. There is no harm in getting to an interview early and it will give you time to check out the surroundings, but if you arrive early don’t assume they can see you early. It would be better to wait in the car park until just a few minutes before the schedule time.
Make sure that you have everything you will need prepared before the day of the interview. If you are attending a technical interview then gather some examples of previous work:
- for a mechanical role bring a portfolio
- for a software role familiarise yourself with the language they develop in
- If you have prepared a presentation then make sure it is on a USB stick and you have a file saved as an attachment in your emails.
Get some rest
Make sure you get enough sleep the night before. That way you should be at your best for the interview. It’s ok to feel slightly nervous but try to enjoy it, this is an opportunity to show someone what you can do and remember that you have been selected. They want to see you.
During the Interview
Now that you have completed your preparation we can turn to the main event! The interview itself is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your expertise and show them that you are the right person for the job.
First of all – turn off your mobile phone. Don’t even have it on vibrate.
The best advice for performing well during an interview is to be honest and rely on your strengths. Use the following information to help you make the best impression you can.
Most interviewers start with a handshake – not too firm but not too weak! Make eye contact and smile. When the interviewer offers you a seat at the start of the job interview, try to sit upright, relax and lean slightly forward toward your employer. This gives the message that you are both interested and involved. Try not to shift your weight too much and keep your feet on the floor!
Avoid crossing your arms but also make sure to avoid waving them about, if in doubt, rest them loosely clasped in your lap or on the table. Control your hands by being aware of what you are doing with them.
Try and maintain direct eye contact with the interviewer if they are talking, with a glance periodically at any other interviewers. It shows that you are actively listening. Whilst it is important to keep eye contact, avoid staring the interviewer down, feel free to look away briefly – making notes about what they are saying can be a good way to politely break eye contact if you feel uncomfortable.
During the interview speak in a clear and controlled voice. Try to vary your tone and pitch, speak calmly and don’t be afraid of pauses. Take time to think about a question before you answer it. Similarly, don’t be worried if the interviewer takes a pause, they may have been blown away by your answer!
Remember that the interview is a business situation not a social one. Whilst you should feel comfortable be on your guard.
Type of Interview
It is important to note what type of interview you will be attending and therefore act accordingly.
Technical interviews will look to test your ability, you might be asked to complete a test, or answer some technical maths questions/work related process questions. The purpose of this interview is for the interviewer to test whether or not you are technically able to do the job. A good interviewer will ask specific questions and you will either know the answer, or how to work it out, or you won’t. Think carefully before answering and explain your answer if prompted to. If you are unable to answer the question let them know but ask if they can talk you through it or allow you to work it out
with some more detail. Whilst they want to see your technical ability, enthusiasm to learn and a willingness to be taught will go a long way in the eyes of the interviewer.
Competency based interviews follow a different format and style to others. In these interviews the interviewer will be scoring your response to a predetermined set of questions and then rank you amongst a cohort of candidates. Due to the objective nature of these interviews they can feel quite frosty. The interviewer will not deviate from the set of questions so the interview won’t flow like a normal conversation. Try to put that out of your mind and respond to each question calmly and as best you can.
Tricky Questions. The interviewer may ask some pointed questions. They may question an area of weakness that was revealed during the interview, or probe you on your previous company. Try to avoid bad-mouthing your previous company. Remain objective and turn the answer into a positive by explaining how the role you’ve applied for fits what you’re looking for or how you’ve improved on a weakness.
When it comes to the salary, know your market worth but be flexible, it may be worth giving a range. However, make it clear that salary is not the key factor to your decision.