Interview Techniques and Advice
If you have applied for a job, and your application is well received, you are likely to be called to an interview. The same will apply to my advice whether the first appointment is with a specialist consultant, or a prospective employer.
It's true that many agencies don't meet their candidates in person, and for some, and in many cases this works. For us, in founding the Dane Partnership Ltd, one of the key issues we previously (as an employer) had with using recruitment agencies was the fact that they rarely really knew about the individuals they put forward. Therefore, unless special circumstances dictate, it is unusual for us not to meet with everyone we represent. If time or distance is an issue, we will always conduct a telephone interview or use skype or another method of video call. Either way, do not be lulled into thinking the recruiter doesn't matter since speaking for myself, if you don't impress me, you will not impress my customers!
Find out as much as you can before the meeting
Before you go anywhere, it is imperative that you take the time and make an effort to do some research and find out:-
Who: Who are you seeing? What is/are their name(s), job title(s) and where do they fit into the organisation and business.
Time: What time? Always be punctual or 5 minutes early; check out the parking/public transport in advance. How long do you expect the appointment to last? Will there be a security procedure to go through beforehand? Is there any other consideration to take account of in order to avoid being late?
Where: Do you have the full postal address? Do you know where you are going and what is the best method of getting there? Is there on site or local authority car parking? Will you have to use public transport and how long is the walk from the train or bus station?
ID & Qualification: Don't forget to take a passport or formal method of ID and at least photocopies of academic and professional qualifications. Take a hard copy of your c.v. If you have them, take copies of references too.
Attire: Play it safe and go 'suited and booted'. Unless you are told otherwise, never dress down.
Format: What will the appointment consist of i.e. a competency based interview, testing, personality and aptitude profiling, a presentation etc.
Research: Do you have a detailed job description? If not, ask the agency/employer for one! Do you know everything you can reasonably find out about the business you will be visiting? They know a bit about you and they will hope you have made an effort to find out about them. The internet is a very powerful tool and there are many ways to find out about businesses so make sure you do your research in advance.
Questions: Thought of everything? This is an opportunity for you to find out if you want to work somewhere just as much as it's time for them to decide if they want to employ you. Make a list of key questions and don't be embarrassed to ask.
This is your chance to impress
All the interviewer knows about you, is what you have written on your CV and some additional information that may have been provided by an ex-employer on a reference, or by your recruitment consultant.
First impressions really do matter. Shake hands, make eye contact and smile. Limp handshakes are very off putting; practice please and get it just right.
Don't be afraid to maintain eye contact during the conversation. If you are being seen by more than one person, make sure you direct your eye contact to all those present as comfortably as you can dependent upon the layout of the room.
People expect you to be a little nervous and allowances will be made. Sometimes you will be interviewed by someone who could be just as nervous, or indeed more so, than you. The biggest danger is not being given the right opportunity to 'sell yourself' so if things aren't going the way you feel is best, ask if you might be allowed a couple of minutes to express the reasons why you applied for the job and what you have to offer the potential employer. You may find the interviewer is relieved that you can take over.
Practice really does make perfect and I'm afraid there is only one way to get started. 'Role play' interviews with friends, family, recruitment consultants and anyone who you feel is qualified to offer support, encouragement and constructive feedback on your performance.
Make sure you know your CV thoroughly, including dates. Don't ever put yourself in a situation where you cannot back up what you have written. Honesty is definitely the best policy. If you are going for a first job or a change of direction, consider things that you have done at school or college or in the past which required certain skills which are easily transferable within the work situation. Think of examples and ways in which you can display these skills at the interview.
Practice makes perfect. Be as relaxed and positive as your nerves will muster. Don't interrupt and remember to listen carefully before 'jumping in' to answer. Good manners and personality as well as personal presentation and communication skills go as far towards getting a job as your qualifications and experience. If you like them, there's a good chance they will like you. Don't be afraid to ask for feedback although don't be 'knocked back' if they refuse to give any. Some do, some don't and some simply prefer to keep their distance from such a personal request. Find out what the next stage or stages of the recruitment process will be and if you are keen, tell them and if not, politely explain why rather than wasting time.
Many recruiters will want to meet you in person. Take up the opportunity to sell yourself to them. I will arrange to meet up with people who feel their interview technique needs some practice and I will offer constructive feedback and encouragement to the applicant.