Like most things in life, the foundations of a great interview are all about getting the basics right. It’s important not to ignore the fundamentals of what’s required, and once you’ve nailed these you can add the flair on top.
1. Read the job spec
Sounds obvious, but so often overlooked. Go through the soft & hard skills required, prepare examples of how you can match these, but also don’t be afraid to ask questions where you feel there are gaps.
2. Read your CV
Again, sounds obvious but the last thing you want to happen is to not know your own numbers.
3. Ask the recruiter
If you’re working with a recruiter, they should be able to provide more context than is typically on a job description. Why are the
company hiring? What are the key goals & challenges of the role? What is the feedback from other people they’ve hired?
4. Do your research
Know who you are meeting; where they’ve worked; the history of the business; the structure of the team; any recent news articles; their key competitors. Even go and look at their accounts on Companies House if they’re an early stage business!
5. Ask questions
Always, always, always have a list of questions prepared. But be prepared to be flexible and adapt to the conversation – if your questions have been answered then ask new ones based on the context of the interview. Focus your questions on learning more about the role or business rather than salary, working hours etc
So you’ve nailed the basics, now what can you add on top in order to stand out?
A. Structure & clarity
The best interview answers are compelling, logical and draw the interviewer in. Like a comic performing a routine, you should have a number of pre-prepared answers up your sleeve, structured almost like stories. Be concise, but understand how to structure an answer for maximum effect (see our article on the STAR technique).
B. Challenge the interviewer
a. Interviews are a two way street, and the best candidates use it as an opportunity to dig deeper. For example, don’t just ask ‘What’s the culture like?’ but ask for examples of how they live & experience the values every day, or how the mission of the company impacts the decisions they make in their role.
C. Give an opinion
Take your research one step further but providing some relevant, tailored insights on the role or business. Combine what you know about the role & business with your expertise and make recommendations on things you might do if you were to get the