It’s a new year and some of you will be checking the web for the latest advertised jobs and maybe even testing the water, others will have already made the decision and will be looking for change. I figured I would share a little information to try help those of you that are considering that change.
I’ve been involved in the hiring process of everything from trainees to management for many years and the one thing I can tell you is this – companies don’t shortlist for the fun of it. If you have made it to the interview stage, you are a serious contender for the job.
Once in the interview, you have approximately 30 minutes to convince the company representatives you are the right person for the job. How you deal with the interview determines your outcome.
Follow these 3 steps and not only will you master the interview process, you’ll make yourself unforgettable.
STEP 1: Know the right information
One of the questions almost every interviewer asks is what you know about the company, so why do so many people continue to get it wrong?
One mistake I continually see potential employees at all levels make is not doing their homework properly. They might have a quick read through the company website or think it’s enough just to know the basic business motto. When it comes to answering specific questions, they try to fudge their way through, get their answers wrong, or don’t answer the question effectively.
The second mistake is trying to remember statistical information about the company and recall it off the top of your head during the interview process. Not only is this type of information boring and uneventful, it is also very easy to get wrong.
So why is this question so important?
That’s easy. Your answer tells me how much you want to work with the company. It also gives me insight into what you value about the company. Its an easy question for you to break the ice with and put you ahead of the pack.
What’s the best way to answer this question?
Pick two or three pieces of relevant information about the company. This could be a recent announcement the company has made, or a new product they have launched. Don’t bother with too many statistics.
Recite the information a few times, and then write it down from memory to see how much you have remembered. In the days leading up to the interview, practice talking about that information with your partner, your kids, your friends or pretty much anyone who will stand still long enough to listen. This trains your mind to use the information as a conversation piece. You will then have a well-rehearsed conversational reply about the company that makes you familiar to the interviewers.
Here’s an example:
“After reading through your website and having a quick look at the annual report, I noticed COMPANY X operates in Queensland, Victoria and of course here in Sydney. I was not previously aware that COMPANY X had services in three states of Australia. (Short pause for comment if required). Another interesting point; I noticed that Brian Smith, the CEO of COMPANY X, took part in a Cancer fun run. I really appreciate when people take the time and personally give back to the community. I also noticed that COMPANY X supports a number of charities and community services such as the local sports’ centre. I would be proud to work for a company that has a great reputation in the industry and with the local community.”
This kind of well thought through but rehearsed answer gives you “friend status” in an interview. It helps to create conversation that the interviewers can comment on and give feedback to. It also shows you are willing to learn about the company and its employees.
Answering this question well creates familiarity and makes the interviewers visualize you in the role. Master it and the rest of the interview will be a breeze but remember to keep it simple and relevant.
You need to predict what questions you will be asked in an interview. You don’t need to own a crystal ball to guess what they will ask. You just need to go through your last two jobs and write down some questions you’d ask if you were interviewing that person.
If you’ve never interviewed someone before, Google ‘commonly asked interview question’ to get yourself started.
Now that you have your list of questions, get your partner/kids/friend from step 1 to ask you each question. Write down your answers. Repeat the process a few days later using a clean sheet of paper and then review your answers from both sessions.
Next read through the position description and answer the questions in light of what you know about the advertised position. Try to use examples you know work well with the position description.
Over the next day or two, get someone to ask you the questions but this time, give only verbal answers. Now check these against your written answers.
Try to give informed constructive answers to any questions and avoid answering with negative examples.
Do this step well and it becomes a very powerful synergy to step one – you will have the interviewers thinking about you in the role at the workplace. When an employer can envision you working with them, the tone and atmosphere of the interview will be in your favour. You will be memorable.
STEP 3: Know your cheat sheet
This step really comes back to the age old adage – If you fail to prepare you should be prepared to fail.
An interview cheat sheet is invaluable during the interview process. I review mine in the minutes before an interview and as a memory marker during the actual interview.
Just remember not to hand it over. It’s for you, not anyone else.
Use clear headings, stick to bullet points wherever possible, and keep it simple – 2 pages or less. While there is no harm in taking a few seconds to start your answer, you want to avoid the lengthy pauses that come from having to search for your answer or information.
Your cheat sheet should include:
- The name, address and contact phone number of the person/people you are meeting and the time of the interview.
- An outline of why you are the right person for the job.
- Information about the company from step 1. If you’re going to use statistics in step 1, write them on your cheat sheet.
- The answers to your CV questions from step 2.
- Questions you would like to ask the company in regards to the position.
- A copy of your CV – attached behind the cheat sheet. This will help you quickly reference any information they make ask you about your CV. In fact, I always take two copies of my CV to interviews – one attached to my cheat sheet and the other to give to the interviewer.
Following these steps does two things: It shows an interviewer you can listen to questions and respond constructively. You will be remembered with cognisance, not just as a stranger that they interviewed.
Give yourself the best opportunity every time you get an interview. Make eye contact, be positive and do your homework.
The only factors about the interview you can control are your preparation and the way you present.
“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
— Quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Address at Oglethorpe University (May 22, 1932)
First posted as a guest blog on http://www.rileybanks.net/