Top job interview tips

In these very uncertain times, unfortunately, it seems likely that some jobs could be at risk and this is going to put a lot of people onto the jobs’ market.  We deal with hundreds of interviews a year and one thing we have learned is to expect the unexpected.  Often the simple things get overlooked, which make the difference to a successful interview.  We are always broadening our knowledge, with debriefs from hiring managers and candidates, to get the full picture. I’ve tried to summarise some of the top job interview tips below: 

1 – Do your background research

A regular feature on the rejection feedback is that candidates have not done enough background research.  This still surprises me as it’s the easiest one to do and with the internet, there really is no excuse.  If you’re struggling for inspiration, try the following as a starting points.

  • When was the company founded and by whom?
  • Who are their direct competitors?
  • Read any Gartner or Forrester (or other analyst) reports
  • Find out their size by looking at the headcount on LinkedIn
  • Check your interviewers profiles on Linkedin:
    • Who is their boss?
    • Where did they work before?
    • Are you already connected in some way?
  • Does the company have any new products?
  • What is their turnover (if publicly listed)?
  • Have they got funding, how much, what stage?
  • Who are their main customers and channels or resellers?
  • Ensure that you have the job description in front of you during all the interviews, having read it a few times beforehand.

2 – Ask the right questions

 Research is one thing but having some well prepared questions is also vitally important, it shows you are really interested in working there.  There are limitless options but we think some good questions are the following:

  • What are the top three qualities the ideal candidate should have and why?
  • What are the top three objectives to be achieved in the first three or six months of the job?
  • What made you join the company? 
  • What do you like about working here? 
  • What would overachieving look like?
  • Where do you see the company in the next two years?

3 – Check everything

We see interviews going wrong for some crazy reasons, sometimes no one is to blame but often it could have been resolved if checks had been in place.  

  • Check the timezone is correct for the person you are speaking to.
  • If you haven’t received an email or a calendar invitation, check your spam folder, we often see missed calls on this issue alone.
  • Check if it is a phone call or a video call.
  • Check the phone numbers, if it’s a dial conference number, ask for a back up contact number as well.
  • If it’s online, try to dial in 30 minutes early to make sure the link works, you can always drop off until the correct time.
  • Find out who will be taking part and what they are expecting from you.
  • If it is face to face or video, check your suit or appropriate outfit at least a day in advance, there is no excuse for a crumpled shirt or dirty shoes.
  • Make sure you can take the time off to attend the call or meeting, we see candidates getting rejected from a short list because they miss calls or meetings.

Have a spare copy of your CV printed as well as ready to email, in case the interviewer does not have it.

4 – Look the part

This is a tricky one as we move to a more casual working environment, however I would always err on the side of caution and wear smart business wear.  If in doubt check with the client, you might also get a sense of what’s appropriate by pictures of the leadership on their website.  

5 – Closing the interview

You want to make sure you have given the best impression that you can do the job and are interested in working there.  At the end, check that  they have all the information they need, ask about next steps and the time line.  Ask if you have the interviewer’s support to progress to the next stage. You can also follow up with an email thanking them for their time, restating your fit and maybe dropping in some new information, eg “I didn’t get time to cover this in the interview but I won the sales club two years running in 2019 and 2018 hitting 150% of target”.

The aim of the game is to stay front and foremost in the interviewer’s mind. Remember you are trying to stand out as the best person for the job against other candidates and the distractions of the interviewer’s normal day job pressures.

I hope you find this top job interview tips useful, there are lots more resources available on this topic, Forbes offers up some unconventional job interview tips here.

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Stay safe and well.