Interviews…..can I just rock up and wing it??
You’ve made it through the pre-screening process, congratulations, that is no small feat. Make sure you take time to celebrate. So how do you prepare for your face to face interview? Bearing in mind this interview could be in person or via video.
Prepare, Prepare, PREPARE!
You’re not going to be surprised to read that preparation is key. This will give you the best chance for success. The good news is that you can re-review the company research & notes you took for your pre-screen interview. You will have been informed of who your interviewers are and this is where LinkedIn is your friend, review their backgrounds, their roles and experiences.
The next step is to prepare for the questions that you may be asked. Interviewers will be looking for 2 things: Will you be able to deliver in the role? In other words, do you bring the required skill sets that will enable you to be successful in the role. The second thing the interviewers will be looking for is, are you a good fit from a cultural perspective? Essentially the company is looking to see if there is an alignment between your beliefs and behaviours with their core values and company culture.
Being your first professional role, the interviewers understand you will not have all the required experience. This is where your part time work, sporting or cultural associations and any leadership roles you may have held within them and any volunteering experience you bring will be key. These experiences will demonstrate your ability to learn, adapt and take on feedback.
It’s common to be a little nervous or anxious before the interview. I find it helpful to reframe that into “I’m excited”. Some tips to stay calm at the beginning and during the interview:
● Smile and if in person offer a handshake (where acceptable)
● Ask the interviewers how their day is going
● Be mindful of your posture, sit straight and don’t fidget
● You’re talking to a professional, it’s helpful to be mindful of your language and vocabulary
● When you find your head and heart racing, take a breath. Three deep breaths will give you a chance to slow everything down and respond rather than react
● Turn your phone off and leave it in your bag, satchel or backpack
As the interview opens up, there will be some general banter with the intent to build rapport & help you feel relaxed so that you can perform in the best way possible. One question that is common to ask is “Tell us about yourself?” What they are really asking is “tell us why you’re our ideal candidate?” They are not looking for your life story, they do want to gain an understanding in 3-5 minutes of your studies, interests and where you’re from.
The interview will include a number of key questions that are based around the key competencies for the role (which should be evident from the job description) and they will be looking to understand the context or situation in a concise manner, the actions or process you took to get the end result and the outcome. This is based off the STAR technique which is very well known (Situation/ Task, action and results). Don’t be surprised if some of the questions enquire as to when the outcome wasn’t positive. It’s important to understand that the interviewers are looking to see if you had learned from that experience and put actions in place to mitigate risk or a negative outcome again.
You may be asked some difficult questions. The first thing is to “not panic”. Here are my tips on the best way to approach these.
● Answer the question directly
● Provide clear examples
● If you don’t understand the question, or you can’t recall it, ask for the question to be re stated / asked differently
● Highlight your strengths and how your current skills are relevant to your job
Demonstrating your interest and excitement for the role is very important and a great way to do this, is via the questions you ask. Some suggestions might be:
● Could you walk me through the team structure and reporting lines?
● What does success look like in this role?
● How does the company support career development & progression for employees?
● What are the next steps in the process?
Post the interview, there’s a couple more things to do.
Just like the pre-screening interview, there are a couple more things I recommend you do.
● Summarise your notes. What information did you receive that would be beneficial for the next interview? What would you do differently?
● Send a sincere thank you note to interviewers or recruiter if you don’t have their details.
● Reflect on whether this is the right role and company for you now that you have some extra information