Congratulations! You got the interview! Now to make a great impression and ensure you offer the interviewers something to be wowed by.
1. Know the employer
How can you tell an interviewer that you’ll fit in seamlessly with the company’s culture if you know nothing about them? Research the company’s structure, history and mission. Learn about what the company sells, the clients they target and how they compete in their industry. Find out what motivates management and employees.
2. Know the position
Employers will list the skills, knowledge and qualifications they expect someone they hire to possess. Read the job listing and show them that you meet their requirements. Prepare for this by listing and memorising some scenarios and examples, perhaps even projects where you have demonstrated and even championed the skills they are looking for.
3. Know yourself
Know your strengths and weaknesses. A common interview question that many people are still stumped by is ‘What are your weaknesses?’
For many of us, thinking about and discussing our strengths in an interview situation comes far more easily than flagging any weaknesses to a potential employer. If this applies to you, my advice would be to think of things that have been a weakness for you historically, but are now in your awareness and improved. Discuss how you have implemented a plan, or pro-actively sought out support to up-skill in this/these areas and how this has positively impacted your work. Prepare and give an example.
Showing you have self-awareness, plus the initiative and motivation to overcome any weakness, actually shows another strength!
4. Dress like your interviewer
The clothes you wear should reflect the company’s culture. Don’t overdress, but don’t look sloppy either. First impressions are extremely important!
Be presentable, professional and use your attire to tell the interviewer something about yourself. If it's a corporate company or firm, then be sure to dress professionally and smart. Similarly, if it's a more dynamic business, perhaps a creative or start-up/tech company, then there may be an opportunity for a more smart/casual approach. If you're in doubt, ask your recruiter for their advice. They will know the company culture and will be able to advise you on this.
5. Stand out from the crowd
Be honest! The typical, scripted responses will make you look like everyone else. Give honest answers and try and connect with the interviewer on different subject matters that are relevant to the job. This could be related business news about the company, industry wins, market trends and/or new technology. Referencing recent news about your prospective new employer can showcase your enthusiasm and interest in working for them.
Shine! Be personal if the opportunity allows. Line managers will often favour and hire the candidates who they connect with. If the interviewer opens up the conversation to a topic outside of work, or perhaps asks about your interests, then use this as an opportunity to connect and build more rapport. They are likely doing this to get a feel for your personality and how you will fit into the team. In this scenario, keep it friendly, upbeat and professional, and be careful not to overshare.
6. Show your passion
Show enthusiasm for what you do! Being upbeat, positive and enthusiastic in an interview will show the employer that you enjoy your job and can bring positivity and energy to their team.
7. Be a problem solver
Be prepared to answer questions on times where you have faced challenges or difficulties at work. Employers will typically want to know if you have worked in demanding environments before, and how you have faced and overcome any challenges. Prepare a few examples of scenarios where you have been assigned a difficult project or task, and how you succeeded. If you’re applying for a management role, prepare an example of how you have dealt with a difficult employee or client relationship.
8. Ask questions based on your career values and needs
The interviewer may be interviewing you, but don’t forget you’re also interviewing the employer. It’s important to ask about the specific duties of a position, especially if they’re unclear in the job description. You can also ask questions about a company's culture and values and whether there will be opportunities for career development or advancement.
9. Thank You
At the end of the meeting, remember to thank the interviewers for their time and offer them the opportunity to get in touch should they need any further information.
If an interview has gone well and you are keen to continue in the process, you can also offer the details of an ex-employer referee, who you know will give you a great reference! This shows you are confident in your abilities and have maintained great relationships with previous managers.
If you do decide to extend this offer, be sure to ask permission and prepare your referee for any call. Send them a few points via email describing the skills required for the new job so they will be able to comment more specifically when contacted.
Contact your recruiter and give them your feedback! They have the relationship with the client and are your best source of information and feedback about the interview and process.