How to prepare for a job interview?
You crafted the perfect CV, applied for the job of your dreams and finally have been invited for the interview. So what’s next? In today’s competitive communications and marketing recruitment landscape, you need to make sure you put your best foot forward. To further complicate the matters, your interview may be taking place via Zoom or Team, in-person or a mix of both as we move into a hybrid workplace.
To secure your dream job in communications, marketing or PR, our recruiters put together a guide on how to prepare for your interview.
Research the company
Whether your interview is taking place in-person or online, it is essential to conduct thorough research of the organisation. Your first stop could be the company’s website to explore their ethos and corporate values to get an idea of their culture and whether this fits in with your principles. It is also worthwhile to browse the company's (and their ambassadors’) social media profiles to get a feel of their tone of voice and how they communicate with their audiences.
Visit their news pages to see the latest press coverage – it can be a good topic of conversation. If possible, learn more about who works in the team using LinkedIn – it will be encouraging to know that you have things in common.
Always be punctual
As the adage goes “On time is late…” so allow plenty of time to arrive at your destination if your interview is in-person. It is worth double-checking the exact address, as co-working spaces are becoming more popular and are often found across many locations in cities like London or Manchester.
Similarly, if your interview is taking place via Teams or Zoom, make sure you are online with a few minutes to spare. This should include your technical setup. After two years of remote work, it may come naturally to some but make sure that your microphone works and your camera settings are on (the virtual beach is probably too casual, but the blurred background is fine). Ensure you have a stable connection with minimum background noise and for your peace of mind have a backup device such as a smartphone fully charged and ready to go. If you require any assistance or need accessibility software, let your consultant or interviewer know ahead, so they can advise.
Dress to impress
“First impressions last…”, “It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed…” You have heard it all before, so do not assume the dress code and dress smart in business attire, but make sure you feel comfortable.
If your interview is taking place online, from the comfort of your home it may be easy to forget the formality of the occasion but dress the same way you would for an in-person interview (shoes optional). Not only does it make a lasting good impression, but it makes you feel more confident and ready to impress your interviewer.
Be mindful of your body language and surroundings
Being poised and keeping a positive body language comes more naturally in an in-person interview, so try to be mindful of it if your meeting is taking place on Zoom. Remember not to slouch, fiddle with things around you or gaze away from the screen – try to keep your eyes on your interviewer to emulate the eye contact.
Your surrounding can impact this too – if you live with a family or other people, let them know in advance that you are interviewing to avoid unwanted interruptions. Make sure your background is tidy, or you could interview in front of a blank wall to help eliminate any unconscious biases. Finally, ensure you have good light to help you look your best.
Know your CV
Remember that the interviewer only has the guideline of your CV to conduct the interview, so answer the questions competently and in full. Aside from preparing for the general questions, make sure you have many examples of past professional experience that will highlight the desired skills.
We strongly recommend using the STAR method, which will help you structure your response to ensure that you provide specific details and concrete evidence, whilst keeping your interviewer engaged.
Situation - Describe in detail the specific situation.
Task - What was required of you?
Action - Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you. Even if you are discussing a group project or effort, describe what you did – not the efforts of the team.
Results - What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Wherever possible, quantify your results.
At the end of your interview, it’s your turn to ask questions. Prepare three to five questions to ask, in case some of them get covered during the interview. It shows genuine interest in the position and the company but also gives you a chance to assess whether the organisation is the right fit for you.
Acknowledge your weaknesses
You are also likely to be asked about your weaknesses, so try to answer honestly but focus on making the best out of the outcome. Traits such as impatience, saying yes too easily or being one’s own harshest critic can be turned into positives. Be mindful of how the question is framed as you may encounter one of the following:
Recall a time when you failed and describe how you dealt with it.
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?
Finally, stay calm and remember that practice makes perfect!
VMAGROUP is a leading international interim, contract, temporary and permanent recruitment and executive search specialist. We are specifically focused on providing support to the communications, digital and marketing communities.
Our specialist practice areas cover: communications, corporate communications, internal communications, change communications, PR, media relations, financial communications, CSR, public affairs, investor relations, marketing, digital marketing and agency services.
We have a reputation for providing expert consultancy services and advice, supported by in-depth knowledge of the professions we recruit for. Our thought leadership and benchmarking studies have become go-to resources for the communications and marketing industry, supporting planning and decision-making for organisations of all shapes and sizes.
In the UK, VMAGROUP has offices in London and Manchester and in Europe, VMAGROUP has offices in Amsterdam and Brussels, but we work with organisations and individuals on a global basis.
VMAGROUP is committed to equal opportunities and is a Diversity Pledged Recruiter.