You can only make one first impression. Make it count.
But how you can you stand out from the rest when first meeting your potential new employer?
Know the company
“What do you know about this company?”
A staple question in almost every first interview.
Why? Because the employer wants to know how much you care, how interested you actually are. How can you be passionate about a product/service that you know nothing about?
So, how can you learn about a company?
On all good websites, you should be able to find out a lot of information about the company’s history, values, culture and successes, which are all great talking points to bring up within your first interview.
Shop the market for their products, take note of things they do well, things they could improve etc.. (mention this in the interview if you feel it is right to do so.) Don’t just walk the aisle – do a category review and SWAT analysis. The insight and understanding you will gain will give you so much to talk about in interview – you’ll look like an expert.
Following on from the last page, it is good to understand the company you are applying to, but it is even more important to understand yourself. Your best salesperson is yourself, therefore you must make sure you get across key factors that make you who you are.
Know your CV. Go armed with key achievements you have had in the past few years. Focus on tangible sales figures/ key negotiations/account improvements etc…
Make sure you have 3 – 5 selling points that you know the interviewer will remember. Make sure they are relevant and important for that specific role. Take each point and explain how you will apply what you learnt in that situation to your new role. What can you bring that’s going to improve things?
The most important thing is to know yourself and be able to sell you, not some other ‘Business’ version of you. Do this by being genuine and preparing your competency answers using the STAR technique before the interview.
Never go into an interview thinking you are the only one in the process because in most cases you’re not. There could be more than 5 of you that has made it to first stage interview, all with different skills but the same goal. You will be fighting for your place against other hungry candidates, so naturally, employers will ask questions to try screen you out of the process. But, what can you do in anticipation of these questions?]#
Room for Growth
Create a development framework: Understanding your weaknesses is just as important as understanding your strengths. Employers look for people that are looking to grow and develop themselves and their career. Plan for questions like “what are your weaknesses”. Make sure your answer isn’t “I don’t have this,” or “I’m not that.” Answer with how it could be seen as one of your weaker areas, but also explain how you want to improve and grow alongside a proposed development plan. This will show initiative and an eagerness to learn and progress.
Think about 3-5 situations you have encountered, the experiences you have had and use the STAR technique to adapt them to the questions you are asked. Before you answer think about what skills/qualities they are looking for by asking that question.
A big part of hiring people is managing risk. If you can demonstrate competency through experience and action in previous roles, that is relevant to the role you’re interviewing for it reduces the perceived risk for the hiring manager and gives them confidence you can do the job.
Being prepared with a bank of examples you can talk through concisely with authority will give you confidence and let you shine in the interview.
Think of a situation similar to what the interviewer is asking you about that had a successful outcome. It doesn’t necessarily have to be work-related as long as it’s relevant. Remember to include the who, what, where, when and how.
Describe the task you were responsible for in that situation. Keep it specific but concise. Make sure to highlight any specific challenges you faced.
This is the part where you describe exactly what you did. How did you complete the task you were assigned? Remember to focus on what you did and highlight traits (qualities) that a hiring manager will find desirable (initiative, teamwork, leadership, dedication, etc.)
This is where you get to be introspective. Share what the outcome of the situation was and how you specifically contributed to that outcome. What did you accomplish? What did you learn? What were the results of your actions?
5 Minute Rule
Studies show that in an interview, the interviewer will have made their decision within the first 5 minutes and for the rest of the interview they are looking for justification.
And it is true, as humans, we are so quick to judge character, we think we know best. You don’t even realise it’s happening, but it is…
Come in with energy, enthusiasm, and express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time. You need to remember they could have heard several interviews already. Snooze, right?
A good way to start could be complimenting the company on recent successes and how you are looking forward to being able to contribute to reaching more of their goals.
Make sure you have asked all your questions on your list, you will be kicking yourself when you realise you are unaware of something that you really wanted to know…
Make sure you have addressed everything the interviewer wanted to know about you. This can be done by asking: “Is there anything else you would like me to clarify?” or “Do you have any reservations about my suitability for the role or company?”
Asking questions like “When can I start?” is nothing but arrogance in most cases, even if it may seem like there is a mutual understanding. The last thing you want to do is make the interviewer feel uncomfortable!
Never end an interview on the money question. You won’t be hired if they think you’re only there for the financial gain. Companies want people invested in the business, not their bank accounts. If you are working with a recruiter, let them find out for you.
Thank the interviewer for the time followed up with a firm handshake. It seems basic, but we have seen companies turn down a candidate because of a rude or unprofessional exit.
On the odd chance it didn’t go as planned and your application was unsuccessful, here’s what to do…
Ask for feedback, allow the business to portray the reasons why your application was unsuccessful. How are you ever going to improve if you don’t want to know what isn’t? Use your recruiter to do this, they will have a good relationship with the company and they will be able to get the best feedback for you.