Interviewing for that dream job – what to do to nail it!

Posted by Red Tree on 04/12/13 in Advice & Tips

Interviewing for that dream job – what to do to nail it!

1.     Preparation – this will define your success!

In my opinion, there is no such thing as too much preparation or over preparing for an interview. Even if you have the impression that it will be just an informal chat, pay no heed! It is ESSENTIAL that you prepare for all eventualities and potential ‘banana skin’ questions. Whether a recruitment agency is assisting you or you have gone direct to the company, you must cover all of the bases. The interviewer will always be looking to see if you’ve done your homework, so ensure you have researched the company and have a strong answer for why you would like to work for the business and what attracts you to the job you’re interviewing for. Have a Google of the company to see if there is any recent news, important to be up to date and familiar with any market developments. Practicing how you would talk through your CV is also very important as most likely you will be asked the ‘tell me about yourself’ question – the best idea is to do this out loud to yourself or to somebody (make sure you know job dates in your CV, as small things like this could catch you out in interview!). Ensure you are pointed and concise, and do not go off on a tangent. When you are discussing your experience to date, it is essential to relate what you are saying to the job you are interviewing for – do not go off on a tangent! And finally, ensure you prepare good pertinent questions to ask in interview – not a list as long as your arm now but I would recommend 2-3 questions. These questions should be aimed for you the candidate to gain information and help your decision making should you get to offer stage e.g. Structure of the team/department? What would be expected of me in the role? Career progression? Systems used?

2.      Presentation – walk the walk AND talk the talk!

Looking the part and getting that first impression right is absolutely key for any interview. In my experience of assisting candidates over the years, a large percentage of the interview is won and lost on how you look and how you portray yourself when entering the building and on to meeting the interviewers. My point is, a candidate can have all of the credentials, technical skills and experience in the world but if they do not make any effort in how they look and also in how they make contact initially and throughout the interview, they will invariable be unsuccessful in getting the job. Important to note too, as I’d mentioned above about entering the building, be sure to greet the front office/reception staff as if you would the interviewers in a positive, professional and confident way with a smile. Chances are the interviewers will ask them what they thought of you when you leave the building!

3.      Specifics in interview – the devil’s in the detail!

Being specific and pointed is a very big part of what defines somebody being successful or being a regret in interview. You must exude in interview that this is the ONLY job you want to get and that YOU are the right person for the job. If you go into that interview room and give any indication that you are in there to ‘see how it goes’ or give off a vibe that ‘ah, this is just another interview’, the interviewers will very quickly see this and count you out of the running. Specifics are also essential when it comes to those competency based style interview questions. These types of questions will usually be asked by the interviewer in the form of ‘tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult customer….’ ZERO room for being ‘general’ here! For example, giving an answer such as ‘oh I deal with difficult customers every day, I’m always great at diffusing situations’ – this sort of answer will not carry enough weight! You must get into your ‘story teller’ frame of mind. An example answer could be, ‘last Monday a customer came into the branch and was really very irate. They said they were waiting on a €2,500 payment to their current account, but it had not arrived within the given time frame. I immediately checked into the customers’ account…. etc. this answer will finish with how the situation was resolved in a positive and efficient manner.

To finish up then on one final point I feel strongly about and something I truly feel will help all you job seekers out there. Over the years of assisting candidates and hearing stories about interview feedback from clients, I am always amazed to hear how rarely candidates pledge their strong interest in the job at the end of the interview. What I mean here, it is a very good idea to at the end of the interview to firstly thank the interviewers for their time, and then finish with a short statement of intent for example saying that you would be very interested in the job opportunity and hope to hear some feedback soon. This is a very simple thing to do, and will plant a positive seed of thought in the interviewers’ head which could give you that all important edge over your competition!

Mark Middleton is Head of the Banking & Financial Services division in Red Tree Recruitment.