Excellent interview technique
In the past two years I have been fortunate enough to gain some very exciting work and interview experience with a number of high and medium profile companies and organisations.
While writing this article about good interview technique I realised how important my own work experience has been thus I have decided to write another article specifically about the benefits of work experience.
If you haven’t got the time to read it, just hear this – gaining excellent work experience is one of the most highly regarded pursuits I could recommend to you and the long term benefits to you are limitless.
In this article on good interview technique I will share with you a number of things that I do to prepare myself both physically and mentally.
Please note, I am not an expert but I do have a 100% track record of securing jobs following interviews and firmly believe that if one sentence in this article makes a difference to one person it will have been worth sharing it.
The article is quite long and very detailed. Don’t let it worry you – all these things will come naturally after a few experiences. Getting interview experience when you are 15-18 will set you in very good stead for the future so don’t shy away from an opportunity.
This is not a conclusive guide and nor is it going to apply for everyone or to every job! This is based on my experiences with the companies I have been interviewed by. It is designed to get you thinking and to be beneficial for those with little experience.
Setting the scene
Here’s the situation: You’ve applied for a job you have seen on an internet jobs site, responded to an advert in a paper or magazine or contacted a business directly from seeing a vacancy on their own website
If you have been offered an interview, congratulations. It’s likely for the larger organisations you have already been recognised above that of hundreds of other potential applicants.
From this moment on, hold in your mind that you have been successful – regardless of what happens next. If you can be selected like this once, you can do it again! Well done – I genuinely believe you are successful and think you should feel proud of yourself in this current jobs climate.
But – you haven’t got the job yet! Instead you probably have a few nerves and anxious thoughts. (I could write a book on anxiety so I know what you’re feeling!)
So what do you do now?
Before the interview:
Let’s say you have a week before the interview appointment and lets also presume you haven’t had a formal interview either before, or in a while.
Shopping (if you haven’t already got everything required):
Start by going shopping with a stylish friend or girlfriend/ boyfriend – someone who can objectively comment on your dress sense.
Before you buy anything you need to know what image it is you want to give off and much more importantly, what the required dress code is. The general rule of thumb is ‘if in doubt, dress up, not down.’
But really you shouldn’t be guessing this! Take a good look through any correspondence you have had from the company – usually they will dictate the dress code to you e.g. smart casual, formal or more specifically – suit and tie for men or a similar style for women.
Benefit yourself by asking a simple question:
If the company hasn’t made it clear what to wear, you should contact them. Send an email to the recruitment team who are most likely the people dealing with your interview, or ring them. Many people think it will appear dumb to ask such a question but asking the question can actually work in your favour, if you want it to! How?
Well – so far the company have seen your CV and nothing else. Your CV is the most polished document you will ever produce so it might not be 100% representational of you. What they haven’t seen or heard is your telephone manner or your ‘off the cuff’ written communication skills! This is a perfect chance to show them that you are not just a name on a piece of paper – you are real, have a voice and/ or can write well constructed professional looking emails.
Research the company
This is such a fundamentally important part of pre-interview preparation and yet is so often overlooked, to your own detriment.
Your mission is to familiarise yourself with everything you possibly can about the company itself. I appreciate this is easier for some companies than others. Fore example, at British Airways it would have been impossible to have learnt everything in their 40 years history to present in an interview! It was hard enough learning the information for a small security company with only four years in business! But it can be done. I achieved it in 10 minutes for British Airways and got away with it. I recommend taking slightly longer!
Below I have colour coded the details you should famliarise yourself with before or during interview!
- What sector are they in?
- Are they public or private?
- When were they founded?
- Have they always been known by the same name?
- Any memorable events in their history (e.g. mergers with other companies!)
- Do they operate in more than one location/ worldwide?
- Are they are a franchise?
- How big is their workforce?
- How long have they occupied the premises they do?
- Do they have well known business partners (e.g. British Airways were a partner to the Olympic Games plus they own other airlines such as Iberia!)
- Do you understand the structure of their business?
- What is your exact job description?
- Where will you be working and what hours?
- What job does the person do who is interviewing you?
- Has the company been in the news in the past week?
- Has the company announced any future developments?
- What is the name of the person interviewing you?
Red: Probably going to acquire these on the day but they are very important
Blue: Not things you are likely to be asked about, but things that will be beneficial to know to educate your answers!
Green: Details you should be able to name if asked.