Once you’ve the required traction from your applications, you’ll start to line-up interviews to meet with prospective employers, and perhaps recruiters’ prior.
This series is going to look at how to prepare for each scenario, and how to ensure you make and leave the right impression. We’ve broken this series into its obvious segments;
- Execution, and
In this first post, we are going to examine how best to prepare for your first interview with a company. The areas we’ll explicitly explore we break down into Research, List, Presentation, and Rehearse, and we’ll go through each in turn.
If you’ve been following our processes, you’ve likely already a reasonable basis for your research on the company. Now we have moved through to the next stage presumably, so too shall we move our depth on research on the company. The button below links to a lite version of our ‘Prep Sheet’ document that you can use to pull together your research into a quick reference. The areas you should be taking note of are outlined in the document; head count, market offerings, competitor analysis, company history, key management, product roadmap, financials, recent M&A activity, and the like. If you know some that currently (or recently) works with the orgasniation, drop them a line and get the inside track.
The List is all about creating, you guessed it, lists. Your explicit work history, distilled elements of this role, likely questions they’ll ask, key points you wish to relay, and questions to which you would like answers.
Grab your resume and write down your personal elevator pitch. The first question will likely be ‘So tell me about yourself.’ So, have something snappy and on-point ready, lest you be caught flat-footed. You should also have a few key success-related bullet-points for each position you’ve held in your career, examples of problems and the solutions you provided, and how you navigated the politics in each company.
You’ll also need answers before you sign a contract with any company. Some ideas are the learning & development opportunities, what the makeup of the team is like, why the position is open, typical tenure in the organisation, product roadmaps, and the like. You need to be excited, and you need the intelligence gathered from such questions to make an informed decision. A good interview always goes two ways.
Steer away from any questions centred on remuneration – the face-to-face format is never a good time to discuss such matters. You can sort the specifics out after the fact, particularly if you’re working with a recruiter – make them earn their commission!
Presentation refers to your appearance, body language, and general deportment. Personal grooming is important, so a fresh haircut, a new or at least dry-cleaned suit and tie or skirt/dress suit. Always err on the side of formality rather than trying to be unique. I’ve never heard of anyone getting a job because of the socks they wore, but I have heard of people making the wrong initial impression with attire stunts. It may be unfair, silly, and flat-out self-sabotaging for a company to make such snap-judgements, but it is a reality. Keep it simple, and keep it formal.
Rehearse, as naff as it sounds, is about practice. Your route to the location, your arrival at reception, the interview itself, and even your leaving the building may be factors.
If you’re late, that’s never a good thing for an interview. You don’t need to drive or catch the train to your location as practice of course, but you should check out your route in a mapping app and ensure you have a worst-case-timetable and back-up plan with a taxi or Uber.
Aim to get the building fifteen to twenty minutes early and wait out the front of the building and relax. Arrive at reception five minutes before your meeting time – longer puts the interviewer on the spot to stop what they’re doing and respond, and it really can be quite annoying. When you arrive at reception, make sure you provide your name and ask for the correct point-of-contact by their full name.
If this is a role that you really want, and preparation seriously, film yourself with your phone. Pose a question (as the interview), feign thoughtfulness, and answer. Do this for each question you’ve prepared, watch it back. Pay attention to not just what you say, but also your tone, body language, and ask yourself if you’d be happy as the interview hearing and seeing your response. Rinse, repeat, succeed.