Sometimes being reminded of the basics is good for us all. Advising graduates on very basic interview tips for first time company interviews, makes you realise that these still hold true at any stage you attend interview in your career, including at senior level.
See below for these ‘obvious’ basics!
Know what is in your own CV!
Research and read about the company from their website beforehand
Look at information about the person who is interviewing you on LinkedIN or Google, if possible
Plan how you are going to get there, know where you are going and prepare what you are going to wear in advance
If you are attending through an agency/consultancy try and find out more detail from them about what to expect from your interview, the likely length of interview, and timescale to hear feedback afterwards, how many interviewers and their names and titles, how many other candidates are being interviewed at this stage, to see a copy of the job spec beforehand if possible, why this role is being recruited? etc, etc...
Be very smart with a business appearance, clean shoes, clean finger nails etc (dark socks not your Christmas ones and don’t twiddle with a pen or something in the interview)
NB: Prepare as well for a first initial interview with a recruitment consultant as an ‘actual’ company, rather than thinking it ‘is just with a recruitment agency’. I can assure you a close relationship with a dedicated recruiter will pay back dividends to you in your career and will act as part of your market networking to help you open doors into companies and interviews for the future. At RMG, we work on an exclusive ‘retained’ basis with our clients rather than as a database agency, and this means we work as a dedicated partner with our clients. We hold all first stage interviews on their behalf and recommend the tight shortlist of candidates that our clients should meet.
On the day:
Get there on time! Arrive at reception to sign in 10 minutes beforehand, don’t be late, but also don’t be too embarrassingly early so they have to look after you in reception too long
At the main entrance to reception, for security reasons you may need to use a buzzer and intercom system to introduce yourself to be let in, or you may find reception may be unmanned, don’t get flustered. You may also have had to go through a security gatehouse to start with in the car park if attending an interview on a factory site, so allow yourself time
Offer to shake hands as you are greeted by people in the company, always have a firm handshake but likewise don’t crush the other person’s hand! "Hello I’m….., pleased to meet you."
Accept a drink if offered and don’t spill it
Engage in some general conversation with the interviewer as you walk to the interview room, ie; show you are able to interact normally with people
Be polite and friendly to the receptionist or person who initially greets you
NB: Over many years I have seen too many times people who think they do not need to be courteous to our receptionist, PAs or myself if greeting at the door, but think this is only needed to the ‘actual interviewer’! How foolish is this, to show your true colours, especially when we do get to know if our colleagues have been discourteously treated. And this trait can hold true for some new-graduates proud of their status, forgetting themselves, or unfortunately a small minority of senior candidates with misplaced superior attitudes and proving their low ‘genuine people skills’!
Basics in the interview:
Keep eye contact but don’t solidly stare, and keep looking at all the interviewers as being equally important if there is more than one
Don’t slouch in your chair. Be interested and keen - show this in your demeanour and have questions at the end. An interview is a two-way thing, so try not to be too nervous
You must show interest in their particular company and this specific role that you are being interviewed for to be considered seriously
Show you want this position if you were to be offered
If you are tired or become bored, have the courtesy not to show it, even if you find out this role is not for you mid interview, always leave a good impression (it is a small world)
Don’t be afraid to be yourself, including smiling and having a shared laugh at something if it arises! Companies want to work with people who fit their culture and team, and will be pleasant to work with day to day!
Don’t trip yourself up in interview; if you claim you have done something be ready to back this up if asked for more detail. A basic example: My hobby is reading….so what is the last book you read, what is the theme?
Show your passion when talking about what you are really interested in, maybe through some specific work experience, leadership, your academic studies or a hobby
Be open and truthful, be positive, don’t ever lie or overly embellish, as people will be able to read you and in the main want to work with honest, genuine, straight forward people
Leaving the interview:
As the interview concludes you may politely wish to ask the interviewer if they have all the information they need about you at this stage, or if you can try and answer any gaps or reservation they may have about you at this stage, whilst still together
Check what the next step in their recruitment process is, and when you are likely to hear if you have been successful to the next stage?
Thank the interviewers for their time, reiterate your interest in the role and company (if you are interested) and that you will look forward to hearing from them
Understand you are still in an interview situation until you have left their site/premises, this includes if you get given a site tour, for which you much interact and show interest by asking many pertinent questions.
If you require more detailed tips or information about ‘Interview Preparation and Questions, Making an Interview Presentation, CV Advice and Dealing with an Offer’ please click here to see the Candidate section on our new website.