Published: 15 Aug 2011
By the time you get this far you have been judged on paper as a likely prospect - the HR team has already sifted your CV against their internal brief, and matched your competencies to their hiring brief. HR people see a lot of candidates, so the key is to stand out in their minds, for all the right reasons. If they are good at what they do they should give you a clear outline of what to expect in terms of the objectives and timings of the meeting and who you are meeting. It’s worth taking a quick look at your interviewers on LinkedIn to get a bit of background - if you are nervous about doing this then select the "make my profile anonymous" setting in your own LinkedIn profile.
Interviews - Turn up on time
Ideally rock up a bit early to ensure you know where you need to be and be polite to everyone from security, to reception and definitely to the interviewer. Try to relax and think of the interview as a meeting where the recruiters or hiring manager want to get the very best out of you and really understand what you can offer their company. The HR profession has rigorous standards of training and you should expect to be treated with real professionalism.
Interviews - Make an effort
Do dress smartly and answer the questions...there are two schools of thought - prepare like crazy or do no preparation and just be yourself. Whichever route you decide to pursue don't be over confident (cocky), listen carefully to the questions and if it helps to frame your answer use the question as part of your response and try to use some examples to illustrate what you are talking about - as it makes it easier for the recruiter to remember you.
Interviews - Know your CV
Either way, know your CV inside out and rehearse a five minute overview of your career highlights. They want a summary, not your life story - focus on what you have delivered not just the great things you have worked on - whether this is great handling of customers or designing an award winning collection. Don't assume the interviewer will be familiar with your company or brands, so again have a quick bite sized summary of who you have worked for and what they do, so that can help them understand your role.
Interviews - Time-keeping
Keep an eye on time - most interviews will take place within 60 minutes probably aiming for 45 with a section for questions and admin at the end. Don't ramble, leave that to the Ramblers Association - you will not gain favour for over running...to the contrary it will reflect poorly on your time management.
Interviews - Be bold
Check during the interview that you have given the interviewer the kind of information they are looking for and at the end ask a simple question - “Is there anything we didn't cover?” so you don’t leave with a gap in their understanding of you in relation to the role. Thanks the interviewer for their time and ensure you ask what the next steps are going to be.
Interviews - Do ask questions
But don't pull out a list of 20 questions based on your research that would have their management board reeling about their corporate policy - the HR team probably don't have the answers anyway. Do go prepared having looked at the hiring company online and make sure you make them aware that you have looked hard at them. Recruiters can sometimes forget that hiring is a two way street and you have to want to work with the company as much as they want you. After all you will be giving the best part of your waking hours to them so it's important to make sure the fit is right.
Interviews - second, third and fourth rounds
These days it’s rare for a single interview selection, so don't expect to get offered a job on the spot. Particularly as you make your way up the career ladder increasingly jobs screen and test for talent with a series of phases using online and on paper testing, which could include type indication tests like Myers-Briggs or Belbin, or spatial, numeric and language based reasoning tests, so it's best to tune in with a bit of time spent on the puzzles pages of the daily newspapers to get your brain in the zone. Don’t be surprised if there are several gateways to a job and it’s a sign of a quality employer that wants to really get to know you before making a firm commitment.
Interviews - Your Book and your online presence
If you have a portfolio keep it up to date with relevant content and smartly presented. Keep it concise - a bulging A2 folio case ready to spew its contents over the interviewers desk is not recommended. Better still put your work online and make sure your Linked In profile is up to date, and ideally your Facebook page is locked down for friend viewing only and not riddled with updates on how much you hate your current job...they might just take a look.