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Interviewing – know the knows – Part One

As someone who has been interviewing (and employing) people for more than ten years, I’m still amazed at how some very strong candidates (on paper at least) interview so poorly. I’m sure each person I’ve interviewed has really wanted the job. So why are very bright professionals (including lawyers/accountants/engineers/entrepreneurs and sales people) simply not cutting it in interview?

In this two part article, I’ll discuss several reasons in my view for failure in interviews. By far the most important of these is lack of preparation. Too many interviewees believe they are well prepared when in fact they are far from fully prepared. Know the following “knows” and you’ll be in a much better position to secure any job at interview.

1.       Know your CV.

Firstly, know your CV. We think we know our CV very well, after all, we did the work, we studied at the schools/universities. That’s true. However, when asked “what are your key responsibilities at your current firm” so few interviewees have a great answer (an eloquent, succinct answer about key responsibilities). Ask yourself this question about each of your previous roles. You should have these polished answers verbatim.

2.       Know the company.

Again, this is an obvious point, but so many candidates do not do the requisite research. Look at the website, check the latest news section if there is one, check professional publications on line to see if there are any articles the company has been mentioned in. Look at social media, whether Facebook or Twitter. Doing this detailed research will give you a better understanding of the organisation and help craft any questions you have for the interview.

3.       Know the interviewers.

If you haven’t been given names, then call and find out who will be interviewing you. Check their biographies on the company website if available. Review their LinkedIn biography. Have they been quoted in any of the professional publications or involved in any matters in the public eye.

4.       Know how to apply your background and experience.

Generally, you won’t know in advance what sort of questions will be asked, so it’s important to be as well prepared as possible. Many larger organisations ask competency based questions. “Give an example of using your communication skills/tell us about a difficult situation which has necessitated using your persuasive abilities to influence an outcome.” These questions (and there are a lot of them) operate on the principle that past performance will be a good indicator of future performance. Competency based questions take time to master. As with most things in life, practice makes perfect.

5.       Know what NOT to do.

Never criticise your current or former employer. This will almost certainly result in your forfeiting the interview. There are ways to address such issues in interviews and Employment Tiger employment advocates will skilfully help you negotiate such questions.

6.       Know the job specification.

Review the job specification carefully. Can you give examples from your past experiences that meet the list of specifications? Once you have identified past experiences that do fit, craft them into suitable and succinct answers. If you have no practical experience, but perhaps academic experience of a point, then state that clearly indicating that you’d be keen to gain a greater practical understanding.

Part Two of this article will follow next month.

Simon Cairns is a Director at Employment Tiger.  Tel 0203 468 0999 www.employmenttiger.com


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