Interviewing is as much an art as it is a science. Unfortunately, many people forget it’s an important part of the job application process and therefore leave the preparation to the last minute. Interviewing is more than conveying what your resume says and doesn’t say, it’s an opportunity to showcase the best of you while being vulnerable and likable (let’s face it, you have to be liked) enough that you get a chance to do it over again until it’s official. For many, it’s a wasted opportunity that is the difference between being offered the job, maximizing the earning potential of a potential offer or not being offered at all.
Trusted and tested over many years, here are the keys to interviewing like a Pro and getting the dream job you just applied for.
Let’s face it, we tend to leave the basics for the end, what’s the harm, this is the easy stuff, right?! Wrong. The basics are the foundation and you should have this down like a pro before every interview.
- Company – Who are they, what do they stand for – values, mission, recent press releases and financial statements when available should be reviewed/read and studied before a meeting. Make sure you actually want to work there before the meeting and if you do the reason will be more genuine after your research and not just a sales pitch.
- Address – Where are you going – plan, plan, plan. Don’t let parking, public transport, construction or bad weather impact your ability to make it on time and make a good first impression. Being late is poor planning.
- Time – When, yes, when and how long. I once interviewed a guy that showed up to an interview a week early, he still got hired, but he had to work extra hard to showcase that showing up a week early for an interview was a positive and not a deal breaker. Stick to being on time, it’s a guaranteed easy check!
- People – This my friend is important, don’t show up having not done any research on who you’ll be meeting with, spend the time to get some perspective and context by knowing the backgrounds and roles of the people you’re meeting with and their roles in the hiring process
- Format – What to expect – if you can get this info from a recruiter, current employee or via online research this will help you get a sense of what to expect. Is it a skill test interview, case study, casual, formal, panel, do you have to run around the building in circles? Knowing what to expect will guide your preparation.
- Job – Yes the job, make sure you know the job you’re being considered for – Don’t waste your time or others if you have no clue what you’re interviewing for. Make sure you have the basics before showing up – title, job outline, salary range and full job description when available.
- Supplies – Coming to an interview unprepared is an instant deal breaker for many hiring managers, always make sure to have a pen, notepad and if required (only when asked) additional supporting documents – i.e. portfolio or product samples
Now that we have the basics down, it’s time to prep for the actual interview. The first place we should turn to is the resume, what does it actually say and not say? Is it a list of my responsibilities or accomplishments and successes, does it only relate to my professional experience or is there a place for personal passions and hobbies; and equally important does this have any relevance to the role, company or people I’ll be interviewing for? Frankly, just because you care doesn’t mean your audience will and knowing your audience will help lay the foundation for a great interview, what’s important, and what’s better left unsaid.
- How can I help a company make money, save time and become more efficient?
- What are some relevant examples I can share that demonstrate this ability?
- What do I bring to a role as a distinct personal characteristic trait – direct, honest, energetic, enthusiasm, passion for the brand, culture fit etc.?
- And are these characteristic traits visible when I present my background and experience?
Focus on the positives and adjust the negatives, we all have them so let’s be honest with ourselves before we interview. You’re bound to be asked either directly or indirectly – what are your strengths, what separates you from the competition? A balanced view and approach to your strengths can lead to some great insights into what is the right role and company for you. A great place to start is to ask former and current colleagues, managers and peers to get a wide perspective of your perceived strengths and how that aligns with your own view of your strengths.
And of course, the famous weakness question – this is actually a great question but too often the answers are terrible, largely because they’re false, misleading, and inauthentic. I actually no longer ask this question, what I’m interested in is what are your areas of development? And if you can share an example of learning from a failure or mistake. Weakness is about self-awareness and humility.
How to Answer
Some approaches to interviewing recommend practicing giving the ‘right answer’ and prepare canned answers for likely interview questions, this is the wrong approach. Interviewing like a robot will only get you a robot’s job. Remember, you want to be a Pro!
6 rules to answering interview questions:
- Answer directly. Always address the question then give an example. Never start with the example, you will undoubtedly lose your audience before you give the answer.
- Give real examples. Give context, paint the picture, know your numbers and demonstrate that you know what’s important.
- Don’t give the same example more than twice. Depending on your experience level you should have a wide range of examples to draw upon.
- Never make assumptions. If you’re unclear ask for the question to be repeated and don’t be afraid to get additional clarity if you’re still unclear.
- Smile and have fun. It’s actually quite amazing what a smile can do to help you relax and also help relax the atmosphere of the room.
- Take a deep breath before you answer and ask a question. Stay grounded and attentive to the conversation, breathing calmly and intentionally will help you stay focused.
What to Ask
In 10 years this rule has never failed me – The best questions come from the best candidates. It’s simple and here’s why
- Great questions come from people that have done their research, they don’t just skim they go deep and are intellectually curious about the business and their careers and occupation
- The questions are always relevant and applicable for the role they’re interviewing for; common sense is another easy check!
- The questions are intelligent, creative, personal and genuine
- The questions are prioritized and respectful of time and situation
Never underestimate a great question, I’ve seen people save what would’ve been a bad interview by asking excellent questions and re-engaging the audience and demonstrating great critical thinking and emotional intelligence.
How to Present
There is no better time to bring this up, but what are you going to wear? Yes, this has become an actual thing now. Ten years ago, it would be safe to assume all interviews were done in a suit and tie or formal business attire, today, that is no longer the case. Many companies have business casual to casual dress codes and showing up in a three-piece ‘bay-street’ suit is an immediate watch-out on culture. I always advise to dress a bit up from what you would day to day but never dress outside the corporate culture, it just doesn’t make sense or does you any favors.
I’ve seen people lose roles because they didn’t pay attention to small cultural nuances such as dress code.
How to End
The ending is as important as your first impression, end it positively but end it with purpose and don’t be afraid to express your interest in continuing to the next steps and asking for direct feedback on the interview.
My final thoughts, remember regardless of your intentions in the meeting, you’re meeting another human being and being sensitive to them as individuals and people will allow you to connect and find commonalities and similar passions and interests. Make sure to listen and not to dominate the conversation by only talking about yourself, be open to learning and discovering something new in every meeting, people will buy from people they like and want to be around. If you can make the right connections, you’ll find opportunities that only come around to a select few.
To recap, you’ve landed your dream job interview and now you have the guide to interviewing like a pro – The Basics, What’s Important, How to Answer, What to Ask, How to Present and How to End.
If you stick to this formula and put It in practice, you’ll be on your way to interviewing like the very best. Give it a shot and let us know how you did.