Time to Shine – interview tips

Many will be starting the new year job hunting, a daunting task at the best of times but especially so now given the far reaching effects the pandemic had on employment prospects in general last year. How best to prepare? Whether it’s face-to-face or via a video call, Dan Kirkpatrick offers his top tips for a successful interview.

Before an interview

Research, research, research – The more prepared you are for an interview the more confident you are likely to be. Interviewer(s) will also be able to tell if you’ve done your research. Check the company website (and those of their competitors), recent news articles and LinkedIn profiles of interviewer(s).

Plan your journey The last thing you want to do is to be late for the interview. Leave in good time just in case there are any delays and, before leaving home, check how close parking is.

Practice makes perfect – Have a mock interview with a friend or family.

Dress to impress – Always dress professionally/formally for every stage of the interview process – it’s best to be overdressed than underdressed – first impressions count!

Portfolio – Depending on the role, do you have any materials such as a design portfolio you could take with you?

During an interview

Use the STAR technique, especially for answering competency questions which usually start along the lines of, “tell me about a time when you…”

  • Situation – describe a specific event or situation you were in. The who, what, where, when etc.
  • Task – explain the task you had to complete, highlighting any specific challenges or constraints.
  • Awareness – describe the specific actions that you took to complete the task.
  • Result – close with the result of your efforts and include data/figures if possible. 

Common questions you may be asked include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • Tell me about an achievement that you are proud of.
  • Why should we hire you over other candidates?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What do you know about us as a business?
  • Provide an example of a difficult situation and how you dealt with it.
  • Why is there a gap in your work history?

Ask questions – An interview is also a time for you to ask questions to get more of a feel for the role, people and company. Please think of your own but some examples are:

  • How will you judge my success?
  • What will have happened six months from now to demonstrate that I’ve met your expectations? (This shows the interviewer that you are motivated and goal orientated.)
  • What do you enjoy most about working here? (This gives you the opportunity to connect with the interviewer on a more personal level and will give you insight into why people work there.)
  • Do you have any doubts about whether I am suited to this position? (This will show you are open to constructive criticism and it also allows you to instantly address any of their concerns.)

Body language – “It’s not what you say, it’s what you do” certainly applies during an interview – do make eye contact, do smile, do mirror the interviewer but don’t slouch, fidget or cross your arms.

Things to avoid

  • Making up answers
  • Negativity
  • Lying
  • Talking too much or too little
  • Saying “we” too much – teamwork is really important, but most companies also want to know what you specifically did yourself

If you are taken on a tour during your visit remember that this is part of the interview (no matter who is taking you on the tour) – be engaged throughout and ask questions.

Some companies do the tour at the start of the process and if this happens see if you can apply some of your answers to what you saw on the tour. And finally, if the interview ends and you like what you’ve seen/heard make sure you tell your interviewers!

After an interview

This part of the interview process is often forgotten about and I recommend sending an email to thank the interviewer(s) for the time they took meeting with you.

Inevitably you’ll have exited the interviewing thinking to yourself, “I wish I’d said this when they asked that question” – writing a thank you note gives you the opportunity to add in any additional information you wish.

As we all know 2020 was the year of video platforms and this was especially true in the interview process so here are some additional tips for video interviews:

  • Undertake a test call on the video platform the interview is going to be on so that you can test your microphone, speakers and camera are all working.
  • Be mindful of what’s behind you and find a place to speak without interruptions.
  • Dress exactly how you would for an in-person interview.
  • Remember to stay focused – as you’re not face-to-face it can be easier to become distracted.
  • Avoid reading off notes, although there’s nothing stopping you having a few bullet point prompts in front of you. 

If you’d like further advice or have any questions, please email me and I’d be happy to send you send you a detailed interview guide that we have put together [email protected]


Dan Kirkpatrick is Head of Customer Success at Hunter, The Manufacturer’s Official Talent Partner. He has 17 years’ experience in engineering and manufacturing recruitment across all sectors and disciplines.Dan Kirkpatrick is Head of Customer Success at Hunter, The Manufacturer’s Official Talent Partner. He has 17 years’ experience in engineering and manufacturing recruitment across all sectors and disciplines

 


*Header image courtesy of Depositphotos