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Back to basics: 5 tips to get you to the next interview stage

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almost 2 years ago by Chantal Smits

Back to basics: 5 tips to get you to the next interview stage

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According to a recent Forbes article, the average worker will work for six different companies in their lifetime and have around eight to nine title changes. This made me wonder, how many job interviews will the average Joe have in their career? If every role a candidate interviewed for had two stages, and we assumed there were eight role changes in a lifetime, this would be at least a minimum of 16 interviews, providing they secured a role without interviewing anywhere else.

As a recruiter, it is part of my role to prepare candidates for interviews and see them through to the end of the process. Often it has been a number of years since their last interview and it can be an incredibly nerve-racking process. There are many ways to prepare for an interview and many strategic methods such as STAR, which can be used to portray a skill set. However, before providing a candidate with a strategy, it’s important to understand the basics.

Below are five common points that interviewers often comment on during the interview feedback process that may be the difference between getting through to the next stage and not, no matter how many STAR examples you have.

1. Research the company
It is fundamental to research the company thoroughly before your interview. Explore the company’s website for their corporate values and principles; ultimately if you do not relate to these then you’re probably not the right fit for the company. Visit their media or news pages and read about why they’ve recently been in the press - it could be a good topic of conversation. Also, if you can learn about who works in the team or who the managers are, you can put a face to a name before your interview – there a may be a short profile about them and you may have more in common than you think.

2. Ask questions
At the end of your interview, when you’re asked if you have any questions, do not say no. Prepare three to five questions to ask, just in case any were answered during the course of the interview. This shows your genuine interest in the person, position or company, especially when you consider how precious an hour in a manager or director’s day is. Most importantly, you need to be asking the right questions to make sure that the job is a good fit for you.

3. Dress to impress, unless otherwise instructed
Do not assume the dress code for any particular organisation, unless otherwise instructed. When interviewing you must suit up! A passing comment from an interviewer that you’re looking “too smart” is definitely a position you’d rather be in as opposed to getting feedback that no effort was made. If you’re invited to second stage you would most likely be made aware of any form of relaxed dress code but my advice is always to wait to be told. First impressions last.

4. Know your CV
How well do you know yourself? More importantly, how well do you know your CV? When you logically think about it, an interviewer only has the guideline of your CV to orchestrate the interview, so it would make sense to revise what you have written in order to answer competency questions correctly. This is especially important when you have had a few roles under your belt or have an extensive client list. Re-learning your CV is also the best time to start utilising the STAR method where you can depict three to five talking points from your CV.

5. Recognise your weaknesses
Don’t be stumped by the difficult questions. You are very likely to be asked something about your weaknesses, which of course, we all have. The key with these question is to answer honestly, so you are not giving a stereotypical answer. My big tip would be to focus on the positives or how you made the best of the outcome e.g. “I’m a bit of a yes - man to be honest. I find it hard to say no if someone needs my help and this could mean I’m spreading myself too thin. However, to make sure that I’m prioritising and organising my tasks appropriately I plan my day by completing my hardest task first which means I always meet my deadlines and this usually frees up some time in the afternoon to help others.”

Other ways that a question about weaknesses could be asked:

Recall a time when you have failed and describe how you dealt with it.

In six months’ time, what do you believe I will I be asking you to improve on?

If we asked your friends, what would they say are your bad traits?

Recall a time that things did not go to plan and how did you handle it.

Written by Chantal Smits

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