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Interview Prep

Interview Prep

Posted by on 19/11/2018
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Interview Preparation

A User Guide

By Chris Thomson

For any interview at any level of seniority

OK so a lot of the time I use the phrase 'I don't want to teach you to suck eggs' and even though I am not entirely sure what this means what I can tell you is that a lot of this content you will probably already know so it won't come as a surprise, but there will be some content you don't know or are not really aware of so please do read on..


Do your homework

Whether it is a matter of days or a week (or more) you have before your interview – do your homework!

If you have some time sign up for Google alerts and set up alerts for that field or industry.  There are several newsletters you can subscribe to for free daily industry specific content; for Hospitality try Big Hospitality or Propel or something local to you or the role like Manchester Confidential for Retail try The Grocer or Retail Week and do also set alerts for the company itself and their competition, visit their website and find out what the latest news or offers are for example and maybe even check out their financials (if relevant) on Companies House or Duedil – for free!

You need to talk passionately about the company and their industry.  Your personality, passion and presence are what will set you apart from the competition so be prepared!


Study the brief

This is where we (the recruitment agency) should really be put to task; we know our clients business better than they often know themselves; make sure you have had a full brief and job description for the role in question as you want to identify yourself with what the company is specifically looking for for this role; maybe you have been asked to conduct a SWOT analysis on the company (if not do this anyway) and couple this with a 30/60/90 day plan (or 3/6/9/12 month plan) of exactly what you would do in this role should you be successful; if you present this at the interview you will impress them enormously!


Take a Cheat sheet

Not something to keep looking down at during the interview as if you have lost your memory; maybe as a senior candidate you have been asked to conduct a SWOT analysis, if not have a couple of points briefly printed off detailing a couple of key achievements/accomplishments that you are most proud of from previous roles (relevant to the role you are interviewing for).  If this is your first interview talk about accomplishments from school, college, university or achievements from sports teams or clubs you might be involved with.

If you don’t get the opportunity to talk about this in the interview, then pass it over at the end of the interview so your potential employer has a resume of your highlights and achievements (without looking like your bragging).  Ironically people refer to this as a brag folder specifically in high pressure sales interviews this would have been commonplace.


Scheduling the interview

OK, so I haven’t got anything statistical or measurable to back this up but apparently candidates interviewed earlier get the job more often than those interviewed later; you’d think I would have these stats to hand but…….  Get an early spot so you and the interviewer are both fresh from a good night’s sleep!  Rather that than being tired from a long day of interviews!


The morning of the interview

You need to go in to the interview in the right frame of mind, two hours of panicking before an interview isn’t where you want to be.  Get yourself to the gym for 15 minutes of cardio followed by a hot shower so you can be fresh (and awake!)  Nerves are normal and natural, but you do want to dissipate some of this nervous energy and this will get your blood pumping for sure!  I always tell my candidates (whatever the seniority/whatever the role might be) to get the basics right; always dress to impress, be there early, make sure you have looked in a mirror before you have left to make sure you have made an effort on your presentation; we all make judgments based on first impressions; rightly or wrongly!  Ensure you have ascertained from the agency/recruiter/the company itself what is expected in terms if dress code; you do not want to be in a suit and tie if the owner of the business is wearing ripped jeans, a t-shirt and Yeezy’s now do you?  Common sense can help you here; hopefully you will have visited this business before and will know what the general dress code is here; see below on imitation – wear what you see them wear!


Fuel Up!

I’m not going to tell you to not drink coffee; if you are anything like me then a couple coffees are a must, however…..  Coffee is a diuretic and does suck the moisture from your body so being dehydrated with a dry mouth is not ideal for an interview.  Think about eating some fruit; apples are great for energy and leave your mouth fresh; drink some water and maybe have a couple of mints (just don’t go into an interview with chewing gum in your mouth!)


During the interview

People like to employ nice people, I mentioned this above; your personality, passion and presence are what will set you apart from the competition so when you walk into the building smile at the people you see; make eye contact and say hello – be nice!  You never know who will be asked their opinion of you by the interviewer; it could be the receptionist, the concierge or the first person you speak to.  Be enthusiastic about small talk; a lot of interviewers will very purposefully tell you the interview has finished and then walk you to the exit; often so you will relax and let your guard down; this bit at the beginning or end can be equally as important as the interview ‘proper’ be aware of this; standing up or sitting down are usual indicators of when an interview starts and finishes officially but you should treat the entire ‘visit’ as the interview.


Body Language

The sincerest form of flattery is imitation; mirror the interviewers body language (subtly of course!)  As this puts people at ease and plays to their ego….  Make eye contact (certainly don’t look away) but don’t stare!  This shows positivity and confidence; it can also show you are telling the truth!


Ask questions!

Always ask questions!  At the very least you should find out if they have any concerns or doubts about appointing you based on what they have seen and asked you already; this gives you the opportunity to give more details/revisit previous questions where the interviewer was not happy with the answers (perhaps you didn’t give enough details in your answer or maybe you mis understand or mis heard a question?)  It always amazes me how even senior candidates can have nothing to ask; check out Zety specifically for some really different types of questions you can ask here.  You should always ask questions!


Always be closing

Like any good presentation (and this is really what you are doing; presenting the best version of yourself) you should always end with a summary; reiterate that you would love the opportunity, say something like; “I would love to work with a dynamic company like yours”; the last thing you want the interviewer to think is that you don’t want to work for them!!  Ask them what the next steps are; when you are likely to hear back (maybe who else they have in the process?!)  Or the ‘assumptive close’ – “I look forward to hearing from you this week”


Additional References and information

  • 20 most common interview questions
  • If you are meeting a senior employee then think about getting some business cards!  Get some simply designed business cards made up; pay a little more to have someone design them for you and make sure everyone you meet at the interview gets one!  Keeping yourself ‘top of mind’ by doing this.
Of course with any interview whether it has been arranged through me or not I am always on hand should you need any advice; look me up (through the Linked In link at the top)