The thought of an interview can be a daunting one at the best of times, but in the thick of the panic there are some fundamental points that are often forgotten.
You’ve got this far, you don’t want to ruin it now. What makes you stand out from every other applicant? At ESG we know that the interview process is scary, and we aim to provide the most support possible. Here are some simple things to get you started and get ahead of the competition, which ESG can help you build upon.
Interviewers take the time to get to know you through CV, social media, phone interviews etc, so impress them by taking the time to conduct thorough research into their company. Make sure you really understand what the hiring company is looking for, re-read the job advert and read between the lines of how this relates to your own skills. ESG are here to give advice about what they’re looking for and how you could fit in, so feel free to ask questions if you’re unsure on whether you’re a good match.
A good place to start is working through the company website, looking at what the company does and its history, with emphasis on their mission statement(s), core values and company leaders. The second place to look is their social media such as LinkedIn, which gives helpful information about the number of employees and how they may interact with customers/stakeholders. It is also common for companies to ask who their competitors are in the market and what they do differently, so make sure you’re up-to-date with the latest goings on.
You thought you left with enough time to get to the interview, but now you’re on a stationary train and panicking because you’re still 2 stops away from your destination with only 10 minutes to spare. Unless you’re lucky enough to have an interview within walking distance of your house, delays do happen. Be prepared and use apps such as TFL and National Rail to plan journeys and select the route that gets you in early and not simply on time - this way, should a delay occur you can arrive calm and sweat-free because you’ve given yourself a time safety net. Besides, if you do get there early it gives you the chance to grab a morning coffee, which is always a good thing isn’t it?
Dress to Impress
They say first impressions count – so make a good one by showing you try in your appearance. Living in the 21st Century where irons no longer take an age to heat up means there are no excuses for crumpled skirts or shirts.
I’d like to think that people give thought to their personal hygiene and grooming, but give a little extra thought for an interview, trim those few straggling beard hairs or attempt to tame the normally unruly hair. And of course, you can’t be having a nice, smart outfit matched with scuffed shoes, so remember to polish them for that all-over professional appearance! It’s no secret that when you feel good about your appearance, you’ll feel more confident overall, so that little extra effort could go a long way.
I start off this paragraph by emphasising this point the most because it demonstrates you’re an approachable person: be the first to offer the handshake at the start and end! Nothing bad can come out of offering the handshake first, it shows you’re glad to meet them and projects confidence. Just make sure the handshake is a firm one - there is nothing worse than a limp handshake that screams you don’t want to be there.
As for the rest of the interview, keep your head up, make good eye contact, smile and sit up straight to make your voice louder and clearer. All these body language signs help to show you’re engaged in the conversation. Ask for a glass of water, even if you aren’t thirsty. Taking a sip can buy you a few extra moments thinking time if asked a surprise question.
Prep for Curveball Q’s
According to Office of National Statistics, the world population is ever-growing meaning an increase in demand for jobs and therefore, increased competition. Companies need a way to whittle down applicants so may adopt a more difficult interview strategy, including the use of ‘curveball questions’ which may not directly relate to the job role. For example, I have come across the question ‘if you could be any animal, what would you be and why?’ and simply replying ‘a giraffe because they’re my favourite animal’ isn’t an adequate answer, unfortunately. Instead, consider your strengths to help create an answer: I replied, “I would be a wolf as they can work well as a pack to contribute towards the end goal but have also been known to be successful hunting on their own”, highlighting the ability to work in a group and independently to achieve success.
Other frequently asked questions are competency based such as “Discuss a time when you displayed a skill such as ‘problem solving’” or a similar skill that is associated with the job role, which can sometimes feel like a curveball question. These questions can seem difficult to answer at first, that’s why ESG provide great support talking you through how to answer these complex, long-winded questions tailored to corporate sales/recruitment roles.
Ask the Q’s
We aren’t perfect, there’s always going to be something we don’t know or don’t understand. Don’t be afraid to speak up if that’s the case. In an interview, people tend to be too scared to admit they don’t understand and attempt to blag an answer instead – interviewers can spot liars, it’s their job! Instead, say that you don’t understand, or could they possibly rephrase the question. In doing so, you’re being honest and potentially learning something new at the same time.
It is important to consider the interview process as a two-way conversation. While the interviewer will ask you many questions, flip the conversation from being one-way to two-way by asking them questions back. If you have researched the company in-depth, there should be questions you want to ask and this will help to show engagement.
These are generic interview tips and the idea that all interviews will be the same is incorrect. ESG can provide extensive knowledge of what companies want, which in turn helps to tailor the content in your interview to corporate sales and recruitment roles.