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Interview tips for candidates

The most popular threads on ExecutiveSurf’s LinkedIn group, are invariably on interview techniques. For a candidate, an interview can be a daunting experience, whereas, for most interviewers, it is an everyday occurrence.

To help everyone facing a job interview, we have distilled a check-list from our articles and conversations.

1. Ensure complete familiarity with your CV. Be able to explain all you have done and the career moves you have made.

2. Research the firm and the people interviewing you. Search the company’s website and any other available information on them.

3. Plan your journey with military precision and be on time.

4. Plan your outfit. Check out the dress code of the organisation and try to look as if you already belong there. When you arrive, de-clutter, getting rid of your coat and briefcase and just take a folder into the meeting room.

5. Switch off your mobile.

6. Speak clearly and at a volume that matches the interviewer(s). Practise small talk, but also rehearse what you will say in the opening moments of the interview when someone asks one of the two classic questions: “Tell us about yourself,” or “Why are you interested in this role?”. To deal with the pressure, practise these with someone.

7. Be honest and interested.

8. Be confident (but not cocky), enthusiastic and positive.

9. Do not be negative about previous employers.

10. Listen carefully to the questions and never interrupt.

11. Have a presentation prepared, just in case.

12. Prepare for more standard questions. For example:

– Why are you looking?

– What do you know about us? Resist the temptation to say ‘Not a great deal’. Clearly, it gets you off the hook and passes the ball back to your interviewer, who will then feel obliged to tell the story from scratch. Your position will be neutral but you’ve missed an opportunity to look good – you’d be surprised just how many of your competitors do.

– If applicable, explain reasons for redundancy.

– If appropriate, answer questions about clients and contacts.

– Make two lists; one of your main achievements and another of your core skills and competencies. Give concrete examples of your most challenging/interesting pieces of work and events giving proof of competencies.

– Salary expectations. This is a tricky one. It shouldn’t come up too early on in the discussions but be prepared just in case it does. Please don’t say money’s not important. You’re probably lying and your interviewer knows it. If you’re not lying, then you’re desperate. We’re unsure which is worse. Better to hedge and say what your current package is and that you’d expect some improvement on that.

13. An interview is a two-way process; ask a few good questions at the end:

– Where does the firm see itself in the market?

– What are its future plans?

– Possible career paths.

– Structure of firm and team.

– Key responsibilities and what support will I have?

– Training opportunities.

– Culture.

14. At the end of the interview, confidently say goodbye to each interviewer by name and thank them for their time.

15. Finally: sometimes it is actually the informal interview that you should be wary of. An interview is an interview, whether it is in the boardroom, in a restaurant or on a train. Even if you are told it’s just a brief chat, ensure you have prepared as thoroughly as possible.

Best of luck

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