Attending an interview can be daunting, especially if you have limited experience or you just really want the job. Nerves bubble just under the surface, and you’re willing to work hard for this opportunity. So, here’s some information to get you started.
Knowing the employer
Any employer is going to want to understand why you want to join them. This isn’t about their ego. Instead they want to know that you’re engaged with what they do. That you’ll enjoy the work and therefore add more value to the business. It’s therefore important to research the company and be able to answer “what interests you about joining us?” Start in the obvious place. Their website. The key elements that would be good to know are their values, timeline of growth, business areas, clients, and interesting case studies. In addition, I’d recommend checking for recent news articles about the company, employee reviews, and even attending relevant events. Think about where the organisation sits in the sector and how they measure up against competitors. What makes this employer unique?
Your interest in the role
This is a regular element that will be explored at interview. From my perspective, it’s great to understand if a candidate really knows what they’re signing up for. It also helps to ensure that the role is a good fit for the candidate. Think about how you would answer these questions.
“What made you apply?”
“What aspects of the role interest you the most?”
“Why is doing this job important to you?”
Demonstrating relevant skills
More often than not you’ll be asked competency questions that request examples of when you have demonstrated relevant skills. For example, describe a time when you managed conflicting priorities. There’s a simple structure (STAR) that will help you share your information and fully respond. Each time you answer a competency question, describe the Situation (environment and background information), Task (what you were working on), Action (what you did specifically), and the Result (what was the outcome). If you want to elevate your answer to the next level add another “R” (STARR) for Reflection. Here you may want to share what you learnt from the experience or maybe what you would do differently. It’s useful to consider a number of examples of past experiences that could be shared at interview. Just be mindful to ensure you answer the question asked, rather than just sharing an example that’s close to being relevant.
Sharing your strengths
A number of employers are moving toward strength-based assessments. In essence, they want to understand what energises you alongside what activities you’re good at. So, be prepared to discuss this. Think about how you enjoy spending your time. Consider what you’ve enjoyed at school/university and during any work experience. Also, be ready to answer questions like “what is your proudest moment?” and “what are your key strengths?”
At the end of most interviews you will be asked the same question. “Do you have any questions for us?” This is absolutely something you should be able to answer. Prepare your questions. Maybe you want to know more about a part of the business. Perhaps you’re unsure of certain aspects of the role and would like more information. If nothing else, ask what made your interviewer join the business, and why they stay. This is your chance to learn about the organisation from someone already working there. Remember the interview is a two-way conversation, so it’s important to walk away from it knowing if you would definitely want to join the company or not.
Preparation is key to delivering a great interview. Good luck!