How to ace the job interview in four easy steps…
t sounds simple, you’ve applied for the job of your dreams and secured an interview – halfway there right? Not quite! At VMA we hear the very best and worst feedback following interviews, so give yourself the best chance at interview in 2016 and learn from our candidates’ mistakes and the interviewers’ feedback!
- Look the Part
One candidate lost out because he was not wearing a tie, while another didn’t wear a jacket. We’ve also had feedback regarding unwashed hair, too much make up and chipped nail polish!
Even if you are going for an interview at a young consumer brand, err on the side of caution when it comes to dress code and personal presentation. The culture may be relaxed and informal but you will often be interviewed by a Director or the CEO, who may be a little more traditional or corporate.
- Do your research
Potential employers have commented that candidates didn’t know who the Chief Exec was, couldn’t answer basic questions about the size of the business or, most importantly, the challenges they face.
Now this sounds obvious, but it always surprises me how many candidates don’t do it and interviewers are always impressed when candidates know their stuff. Research online, read their five-year strategy, ask contacts about them and know how the media presents them. Use your recruiter to find out what the client is like and what to expect.
- Get the nerves under control
I can remember one candidate telling me she spilled her tea all over the interviewer, while others have had to be cut short because their answers were so long.
This is obviously easier said than done; after all, interviews are not natural situations. Potential employers need to see you can handle a pressurised environment so it’s essential to get the nerves under control. Part of this is about Point two – if you’ve done your research you should be anticipating the questions and have your answers rehearsed. Don’t be afraid to take a bit of time to think before answering a question or admit you don’t know the answer. Rambling on and on is perhaps one of the biggest bugbears for the companies we work with – keep your answers concise and to the point.
- Know your CV inside out
One candidate had forgotten about a role on their CV and have looked completely blank when asked to describe it. Another took out their phone during an interview to remind themselves of their career path. One of our candidates had an offer withdrawn after giving the wrong degree grade in her interview and on her CV.
Make sure you know everything that is on your CV (and that it is accurate) without having to think. Do not get this wrong as it immediately raises suspicions. You should not need your CV in front of you to remind you. Even the ‘Interests’ section may get questioned, so make sure they are genuine and you know enough about your hobbies to hold a conversation about them! Rehearse talking through your CV and career to date, focusing on key points and roles. The interviewer does not want to hear what the CEO was like, they want to hear about what you achieved and how you made an impact in the time you were there.
And finally, be yourself! Employers want to get to know you so they can assess how you would fit in to the team. Be prepared, but be honest and enthusiastic about the role and organisation. Even the most formal interviews offer opportunities for you to let you personality come through in the answers you give. You would be amazed at how often our clients hire on this basis – personality fit and attitude almost always prevails over experience and skills. Oh and remember to breathe – that always helps! Good luck.
By Sophie Collins
Senior Consultant, External and Marketing Communications Practice
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