Prepare to Smash Your Job Interview

by Veronica Blatt

Today’s guest blogger is Anthony McCormack, founding consultant, managing director and entrepreneur behind Macstaff with offices in Bristol and Abergavenny, United Kingdom. Macstaff is a high impact recruitment consultancy majoring on right-fit permanent placements in construction, property, manufacturing and engineering sectors in UK & Internationally. Macstaff joined NPAworldwide in 2019. Anthony McCormack takes you through several helpful and practical hints to give you the very best chance of being successful at an upcoming job interview. And some are more obvious than you think. This post originally appeared here.

So you are in an active job search and have secured yourself an interview.

Now this is where the ‘rubber hits the road’!

Personally, I think reliance on a job interview to determine the best candidate for a position is a broken system – but we will save this topic for another blog.

Nonetheless, the interview is how 90% of hiring decisions will be made. So be prepared to sell yourself. How you do that will influence the likelihood of an offer and the better the interview, the better the offer potentially!

So my first point will state the blindingly obvious. The best advice on preparation is… to actually prepare!

Many people spend an inordinate amount of time tinkering with the CV, browsing job postings and crafting the perfect cover letter – but little or no time properly preparing for individual interviews.

If you’re reading this, it looks like you are putting in some groundwork so give yourself a pat on the back, you’re heading in the right direction.

From a mental preparation point of view, I suggest making sure that you are ‘in it to win it.’ Don’t go to an interview to ‘check them out’ or to ‘see what they have to say.’ Go to an interview with the intention of winning a great job offer. If you get offered and choose not to accept, that’s empowering and your call to make.

I am always sad when someone is ill-prepared for an interview, goes in lukewarm or even suspicious about the opportunity, and realises during the appointment that the role is a dream job for them. It’s typically too late to inject passion to the interview and reverse the first impression formed by the interviewer that you only came to ‘kick some tyres.’

Logistics

Logistics wise. Make sure you plan your journey and allow enough time. That’s enough time to get to the postcode according to Google maps or SatNav but also to park and sign in. I also suggest allowing enough time for heavy traffic, road closures, getting lost and spilling coffee down yourself! As sod’s law says, it’s going to happen.

You want to allow enough time to be on time but also to be in the right frame of mind. Five minutes decompressing from the journey and visualising a successful interview will pay dividends. Lastly, I don’t want to pile on extra pressure, but I’ve pretty much never seen someone turn up late to an interview and go on to secure the job.

Take a CV with you

Take a fresh copy of your CV and a separate reference sheet so you are ready to hand over either or both. You likely won’t need them but it looks organised and allows you to use them as a point of reference. Also, in the eventuality that they have lost the CV or can’t print it, your job interview still goes smoothly ahead.

Dress to impress

It’s an interview cliché to be sharp-suited, clean pressed shirt and shiny shoes. However, I think old-school rules still apply here. As you all know, first impressions are strong, difficult to change and are strongly based around visual aspects.

How you present is viewed as a reflection (rightly or wrongly) of how seriously you are taking the application and how much respect you are giving the appointment.

I would say that while you can mess up by under-dressing for an interview, you can never really fail by over-dressing. Many people have a concern that they don’t want to feel over-dressed when they attend an interview at a less formal office environment. So feel free to try and mirror their culture to an extent. I must point out though that their current employees are not attending an interview and you are!

Expectations are different so it really doesn’t matter if you are the only person in a suit. It’s kind of like the interviewer can swear in the interview and they won’t notice or remember, if you do, it’s going to stand out and reflect badly.

Paint a picture of a Win-Win

Candidates are going to want to satisfy themselves that they are going to win the job in question, with respect to salary, benefits, challenge, interest, career potential and so on before accepting an offer. Clients are going to want to satisfy themselves that they are going to win by hiring the candidate in question in respect to skills, experience, personality, attitude and future potential before making an offer.

What is less obvious is the opposite side of these points. Candidates should want to establish that the company will win by hiring them, meaning they add value, it is a good fit and chances are good it will work out in short and long term.

Clients should want to establish that the candidate will win meaning that they get to apply their skills in a meaningful way, enjoy the work and ultimately stick around.

In my experience, in the stressful set-up of an interview, most people overlook ‘part 2’ of the win-win. So ensure everything you say and do in the selection process points towards a conclusion of strong mutual benefit.

On a related note, be aware of how you are viewed outside of the interview itself, like while booking the interview, when you ring beforehand and how you interact with the receptionist. Even when you are not being officially assessed, you are still being assessed. I would never want to hire someone that was snotty to my receptionist, for example.

Prepare by researching the company

This is so you can talk intelligently about the organisation, their products and projects. Or at least be able to answer the obvious question of why are you interested in XYZ when asked. You can look for published information from their website, news sources or from employer evaluation sites such as Glassdoor to get the ‘inside track’. Also, try and make sure you know the job specification and potentially the person specification for the role too.

Prepare lots of questions

There will typically be an opportunity to ask questions during an interview. Hopefully throughout, allowing a good two-way street of communication, or otherwise towards the end. This is an opportunity for you to take.

The quality of your questions can differentiate you from an otherwise similar candidate. Questions that show you have done your research are great, and in general open questions that demonstrate your understanding or prove your interest going to foster a positive response and often further discussion.

Questions which can be seen as suspicious, negative or are just hard to answer will make for a negative atmosphere which ends up reflecting badly.

For example, try not to ask: “What happened to the last person in this role?” or “What’s your sick days allocation?” or “What’s the company’s financial position like?”

Believe me, I have heard them asked before.

Take notes

There is some debate on this topic but I think it is okay to take some notes if you wish to capture key information for your future reference. Again, it can help demonstrate organisation and professionalism. Do ask permission and don’t overdo it as your note-taking can be off-putting to the interviewer, and of course, reduce eye contact which is important for building rapport.

Interview technique

This is a subject in itself and there is all kinds of advice to impart here. I’ll keep it simple and just cover two of them – confidence and enthusiasm.

If you think about it, the hiring company needs to work out two things: 1) Can you do the job (better than other candidates). 2) Do you want the job (and will you accept it).

Therefore you convince them you can do the job by feeling, showing and instilling them with confidence in your capabilities. You convince them that you want the job by demonstrating your enthusiasm for the job, company, product and projects in question.

Confidence

This will be maximised by being prepared (as above) by knowing your CV, the job-spec and how they relate. Prepare specific examples you plan to leverage and questions you would like to ask. Be conscious of using positive body language and voice projection. Practice the power of belief.

Enthusiasm

Prepare all the valid personal reasons why this job is a great match for you in order to demonstrate an authentic win-win. Why are you passionate about the industry, what do you like about the company, what attracts you to the job, are the location and salary going to satisfy you long term. Enthusiasm isn’t all about being ‘bubbly’ if that isn’t your style but demonstrating your appetite for the job somehow is important.

Be specific

The need to be specific will apply to many areas of the interview but particularly in terms of duties, responsibilities and achievements. Being specific and where appropriate using quantifiable examples moves you from making general claims about your suitability to giving evidence that you are the best candidate.

Be succinct

It’s a fine balance. You are going to want to answer questions fully, to score maximum points (either in the interviewer’s mind or often literally if you are being graded). However, you are also going to want to be succinct. The interviewer only has a certain amount of time and if they don’t get to ask all the questions then you certainly don’t get to score all the points. It’s easy with pressure and nerves to waffle on or go off on an irrelevant tangent. Much better to take a breath, get composure and then give a killer answer, rather than jumping in without thinking.

Ask for the job

I don’t think this is common interview advice but put in the right way, I think it is positive and powerful. This is typically for the end in respect to closing statements, and could be along the lines of: “On the basis of this conversation, I am even more excited about the job than when I applied. I would love to assume the role and look forward to hearing back.” This removes any doubt that you would be prepared to accept (offer dependent) and makes you a safer bet. Companies, like potential dates, hate being turned down and would prefer to ask someone who they know will likely say yes!

Any objections?

Again, I don’t think this a common area of interview advice, however, put in the right way I think this question can be a good strategic, assertive move. It again would come near to the end and would go something like: “I am very confident that I can meet all the requirements of the role, so do you have any questions or concerns?” If you are going to ask this, make sure you are ready to answer, address and perceived issues and hopefully overcome them.

So good luck with your current and future interviews. Expect success. The hiring company has a business issue to solve and given that you have been selected for interview, you are well qualified to solve this business issue. It is just about making sure that this comes across effectively.

The interviewers are also hoping that you are going to do well. So everyone is on the same side in that respect. My advice in short (as candidates who have worked with me will likely recall), is:

  • Be prepared
  • Be confident
  • Be enthusiastic
  • Be specific

If I can be of assistance in respect to interview preparation, hiring or job search issues across the spectrum, feel free to give me a shout.


How to Prep Your Client for an Interview

by Liz Carey

Recruiters know to prep their candidates for an interview – a great resume only gets you so far. Sometimes, the best person for a job isn’t the best interviewee. Similarly, hiring managers aren’t always the best interviewers, and may not leave the best impression on the potential hire they interview.

At the end of the interview, the hiring manager often asks “so, do you have any questions for me today?”, and many recruiters take this opportunity to arm their candidates with penetrating questions in order to make a lasting impression. So if you have a hiring manager who isn’t prepared to answer these questions, the candidate might doubt the leadership at this company and lose interest in the role. It’s a candidate’s market, and in today’s fierce recruiting environment, you have to make sure your client sells not only the role, but themselves, to the candidate.

Here are some tips to give your client regarding the interview process:

  1. First, is making sure everyone is on the same page by using a calendar invite or similar software to get the interview on both your candidate’s and client’s calendars. Trying to coordinate calendars by calling or emailing back and forth with available times is a big hassle and time-waster. Get interview scheduling under control with something like Calendly or SimplyBook.me to find times that work for everyone and reduce cancelled or missed interviews. With scheduling software, your client can set their availability preference, share the link with you and the candidate(s) they want to interview, and let them pick a time, which is automatically added to you and the candidate’s calendar. It’s efficient and simple.
  2. Second, the interview itself. Sometimes recruiters are so good at prepping candidates that the interviewer isn’t prepared for the interviewee’s questions! A corporate headhunter told me a story of a time the hiring manager was at a loss for words when a interviewee asked about potential financial risks of the company’s that they garnered from the company’s public financial statements. Be prepared to answer questions about the company, its culture, career development, reductions in force, ethics, etc.
  3. You want every interview to be a dialogue, not just bombarding the candidate with questions. You want the candidate to feel comfortable opening up to you. Build in time during each interview for candidates to ask questions, and for the interviewers to thoughtfully respond to them.
  4. If you don’t know the answer to a question, tell the candidate that you will get back to them. …And make sure you actually do follow-up within 24 hours.
  5. Many candidates do not want to waste time waiting, as they may have other interviews/offers on the table, so be prepared for direct questions like “When may I expect an offer?” or “When will you decide on filling this position?”

And importantly, if a candidate doesn’t ask questions, that is a huge red flag. It shows they didn’t take the time to research the company and shows a lack of interest. You want candidates who ask questions because that shows they have a genuine interest in your client and its success.

 


Top Recruitment Blogs of 2019

by Veronica Blatt

top recruitment blogsIt’s a holiday week in both Canada and the USA, so we’re only posting once and giving you a chance to catch up on your reading if you are among the many people away from the office. In case you missed them the first time around, here are our top recruitment blogs of the year to date:

Three Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Interviews: How to Create an ATS-Friendly Resume Automation has made it more difficult for job seekers’ resumes to be seen by the proper hiring authorities. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) “read” resumes looking for keywords. If your resume doesn’t include the right words and the right formatting for machine-reading, it’s very possible you’ll be overlooked. This post includes tips for how to create a resume that will be “seen” and hopefully lead to more interviews! Read the rest of this entry »


The Number 1 Thing to Do in an Interview

by Veronica Blatt

Today’s guest blogger is Paulette Steele with Real Resumes located in Queensland, Australia. Real Resumes is educating people from beginning to end on getting a job.  Short videos cover all aspects including: where to look for a job, writing effective resumes, researching and preparing for the interview, and most importantly, mastering the interview itself. Paulette has 15 years of recruitment experience and a vast career in various industries.

What’s the number one thing to do in an interview? It’s so simple and effective! Read the rest of this entry »


Great Interview Questions for Recruiters to Ask

by Veronica Blatt

conference-table-300It seems to me that interviewing skills are all over the table. Sometimes I hear that candidates “don’t interview well,” and I’m sure that’s true. However, I’ve also been through some interviews where it could be fairly said that the INTERVIEWER didn’t interview well either! Since interviews are such a critical component of the hiring process, everyone could stand to improve their interviewing skills – candidates, clients, and recruiters alike. Below are some interview questions for recruiters to ask that will help assess talent more accurately.

From the LinkedIn Talent Blog:

  • Can you share an experience where a project dramatically shifted directions at the last minute? What did you do? Let’s face it, “stuff” happens, and sometimes projects and plans don’t materialize as expected. It’s helpful to understand how candidates react to these situations.
  • Tell me about a time you missed a deadline. What happened? With this question, you might look for responses that indicate the candidate accepts ownership, communicated the missed deadline to higher-ups in an effective manner, took steps to mitigate damage, and/or changed a process to avoid a future recurrence.

Here’s an interview question from Insperity that could be very eye-opening:

  • For managerial candidates, ask if they have had to implement a policy change, structural change, or other significant change that was not very popular. If yes, what was the change, and how did they manage it? You are looking for signs of leadership, and also evidence of the person’s adaptability to change. It’s rare to be in an environment that never changes, so it’s good to see how people handle disruption.
  • On the flip side, ask if the candidate has ever been impacted by an unexpected policy change, structural change, or other significant change. With this question, you may be trying to assess if the candidate is a good team player, or exhibits flexibility under pressure or difficult circumstances.

Lou Adler has two interview questions he uses with great success. The questions lend themselves to other questions and actual performance-related dialogue. They are:

  • Tell me about your most significant accomplishment. If you have specific performance objectives that the candidate will need to meet, it should be fairly simply to ask the candidate for an example of something comparable. The candidate’s answer will allow you to ask further questions that help you determine if that candidate can actually accomplish the things that need to be done in the new role.
  • How would you solve this problem? This question uncovers problem-solving skills, strategy, creativity, planning, and more. It should lead to a back-and-forth conversation that helps you understand how the candidate plans, prioritizes tasks, allocates resources, and other details that indicate success.

Do you have a favorite interview question for recruiters? What’s the WORST question you’ve encountered in an interview? Please share it in the comments!

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UK Job Seekers and Employers Say Interview Process Has Lengthened [INFOGRAPHIC]

by Veronica Blatt

According to data released by Randstad, both job seekers and employers in the UK say the job interview process has lengthened since 2008.

Over the past five years, survey respondents indicated:

  • 23% increase in the time it takes job seekers to secure a new role (10 weeks, 5 days vs. 8 weeks, 5 days)
  • Job interview time has increased by 1.5 hours – measured in actual interview time as well as interview prep
  • More than twice as many jobs requiring pre-employment testing or assessment, which contributes to the slower hiring process
  • More employers requiring multiple interviews

Below is an infographic from CareerBright highlighting the rest of the findings:

infographic about interview process getting longer

These findings mirror reports from US job seekers as well, who cite longer job searches, more multiple interview situations, and an overall slowdown in the hiring process.

7-trends


3 Reasons to Conduct Video Interviews

by Veronica Blatt

video-presentationToday’s guest blogger is Anne Downing with Demetrio & Associates, LLC located in greater Phoenix, Arizona. Demetrio & Associates is a boutique recruitment firm that has clients across the US as well as in international locations. The firm places candidates in sales & marketing, advertising, wireless and software positions. Anne is currently serving on NPA’s Board of Directors.

If you are not using video interviews to interview your candidates, or if your clients are not using video interviews, now is the time to start. Video is EVERYWHERE. YouTube has over 1 billion unique visitors EVERY MONTH. People are using video for more reasons than just watching their favorite band perform.

Employers are attracting potential new employees with corporate branding videos and are often using video as part of their hiring process. Sarah White, an industry analyst, conducted a video interviewing usage survey that indicated 38% of the respondents said they use video at some stage of the hiring process. It is safe to assume that this number will increase rapidly over the next couple of years.

There are several reasons why video should be part of the interviewing process, and I will discuss a few below:

Globalization. As recruiters, many of us work with candidates all over the US and the world for that matter. Using video interviews can give us a much better feel for the candidates’ personality and presentation skills. In the long run, this will allow us to present the best possible candidates to our clients.

Speed. Video interviews speed up the hiring process. It is often hard to set up in-person interviews because hiring managers and other members of the interviewing team have scheduling conflicts due to their travel, meetings etc. With video, people can be located anywhere in the world and take part in the video interview. This allows a lot of flexibility on your client’s part to set up the interview. It also can save your client money because this will eliminate some of the travel costs they pay to have candidates come in for an in-person interview.

Remote workers. Many candidates in today’s market work remotely, travel on a regular basis or work from their home offices. Having access to video on their mobile devices allows them to do a video interview from anywhere. One can slip away from “work” and do an interview on their laptop, iPad or mobile phone.

Employers, recruiters and candidates are all ready to engage with each other via the video platform. If you are not using video, now is the time to start!

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net