8 Insider Tips To Help You Ace A Job Interview
Going for a new job is always nerve-wracking. You never get used to it, you can never be 100 per cent prepared and you never really know how you went in the other person’s eyes.
As a regular job interviewer, every candidate manages to surprise me in some way. Often, it’s a good surprise. Others… not so much. You may think the issues would sit mostly with less experienced interviewees, but there have been some pearlers at the senior levels, too.
Here are a few critical elements we look for in new candidates (and a few you may not have thought about).
Show us you’re interested in the job
At a basic level, act like you want the job. I’ve had a candidate appear like he was about to fall asleep, another look like she’d rather be anywhere but there, and one even checked her phone multiple times during the interview – and it wasn’t an emergency. We work in communications, so we’re going to be looking at your non-verbal cues as well as listening to what’s coming out of your mouth. This includes body language and what you’re wearing. We’re in a creative industry, so you’re not expected to wear a navy power suit, but you are expected to look like someone we can introduce to our clients – some of whom do wear the suit. Leave the midriff tops, cheeky shorts and rubber thongs for the pub.
Know us – even just a little
If you don’t know what we do, how do you know you want to work for us? The number of written applications we’ve received from people who clearly have no clue about what we do or who we do it for is countless. They get filed straight into the bin. Show us you’ve done some research into our business, our clients, our work, our people and our industry. Just like most businesses, we have a website and multiple social media accounts as well as our individual LinkedIn accounts. Use them. You don’t have to know us inside-out, but demonstrate you know something interesting.
This is one of the key attributes we look for. We don’t want “Yes” men and women. We want people who ask, “Why?” We want people who challenge us on our thoughts, processes and actions. Show us you aren’t afraid to speak up when you have a better idea or see something that can be done differently. Our industry and our business are continually evolving, and we rely on our people to make sure we remain at the forefront.
This one’s easy. Just ask questions. When we get to the end of our conversation and I say to you, “Do you have any questions for us?”, the last thing I want to hear is, “No, I think you’ve answered everything.” Surely there’s something we discussed that sparked your curiosity… isn’t there? Some good ones I’ve been asked are:
- What would a normal day/week look like for me?
- What are the development opportunities for the role?
- What are the growth plans for the business?
- What do you love about your job?
- What is the company culture like?
Articulate why you’re the right person for the job. If you don’t tell us, we’ll need to work it out for ourselves and there may be some key points we miss in our assessment. Tell us clearly why you’re the best fit.
Be honest and authentic
Don’t try to oversell yourself or be something you aren’t. Even if you do manage to sell yourself in on an inflated basis, you won’t be able to maintain the façade once you’re in. Also, just because we work in the PR space doesn’t mean we’re puffed up versions of ourselves. We’re a low-BS environment, and any smokescreen will be blown away very quickly, so just be yourself.
Keep it relevant
Well-rounded experience is excellent, but if we ask you for a specific example, try to keep it as close to what we do as possible. If it’s not, then explain why your example is relevant. This goes for your CV too. Tailor it to the role you’re applying for. One of our senior members at Spectrum had a hand-modelling portfolio included in an application. This shows us that while you have lovely, successful hands, you probably don’t understand us or the role you’re applying for. Or you couldn’t be bothered/didn’t think to adapt your CV to the role. Either way, red flags.
Start at the door
We’re all one team. This includes the person who greets you at the door, so treat him or her with respect. It could be the receptionist or it could be the CEO. Either way, every person is an integral part of our team and anyone who comes into contact with an applicant has input into the hiring decision. And while we’re on the subject of walking in the door, don’t arrive too early. Anything earlier than about 10 minutes is too early. Whether it’s because you’re enthusiastic or it was just the time your train got in, it’s not helpful for the person you’re meeting because it’s likely they have something else booked or planned beforehand. Take a walk or sit in a nearby café until a few minutes before your scheduled appointment. Shows you’re organised.
All that said, don’t forget there are two sides to the recruitment process. All the points above apply in reverse too. From the moment you walk through the door, you should be treated with respect and consideration. The person interviewing you should show they’re interested by asking questions about you, your work history, why you’re applying for the role and the value you could bring. They should know something about you and be able to tell you why their company is the one for you. What’s great about it, what’s coming up, what needs development. You should feel like you’re having an honest conversation and you’re not being oversold on the job or the company.
If there are warning signs, don’t ignore them. The point of the process is for both sides to get to know each other a little and help decide on whether it’s the right fit. If your interviews don’t feel right, it’s likely to reflect in the company culture.