October 4, 2013
These days with so many people battling for the same jobs, gaining a face-to-face interview can feel like an achievement itself. However the hard work doesn’t stop there. If you are given the chance for a face-to-face job interview it is essential that you are fully prepared, as it will make or break your chance of employment.
In order to make a good impression you will need to have significant knowledge about the industry and be able express how your skills will add value to the company.
Conducting research prior to your face-to-face interview is critical.
The importance of conducting research
Conducting research will enable you to gain a better understanding of the company and job role. You will then be able to use the knowledge you acquire to put across how your skills and values match those of the organisation and industry. Interviewers are impressed by candidates that show they have thoroughly researched a company prior to an interview.
What information should you look for?
When conducting research for your interview, you will need to gain an understanding of how the industry works. It is important to focus on how the company you are interviewing with functions within the industry and what their role is. Those keen to make a good impression will look into the problems a particular business faces and come up with possible solutions that will set them ahead of their competitors.
Research the skills and qualities that professionals working in the industry share and compare them to the skills and qualities you possess. You will also need to research industry trends, as it is likely that you will need this knowledge in order to answer various questions throughout the interview process.
How to conduct research for an interview
To demonstrate how to conduct the right type of research, I have chosen a website at random and let us pretend we have an interview with them, the company is the Workplace Depot, they are an office supplies company and the job role is to work in their head office as a sales executive.
Let us start by visiting the company’s website. There you will find useful information that will help you come up with intelligent questions to ask during your interview. You will also find information such as the company’s mission statement, goals and values. It is important to show an understanding of the company’s goals during your interview and illustrate how you will add value to their strategies. Visiting the companies meet the team page offers invaluable insights into those likely to be interviewing you.
Visiting competitors’ websites is a great way to find out more information about the industry as a whole. Identifying a company’s main competitors may be something that you are asked to do during your interview. In order to find out information relating to industry trends you will need to get hold of trade journals and read expert industry blogs.
Incorporating research into your interview
Make use of the information you have acquired by asking intelligent questions about the organisation and job role. You can also show interviewers that you have done your research by pointing out some of the company’s projects that have interested you. The information you acquire should be used to tailor your answers, ensuring that everything relates back to how your skills and expertise will benefit the company.
Only use visual aids to demonstrate your knowledge, if they add value to the points you are making. Taking an iPad or portfolio is a great way to present previous work to potential employers, should they wish to see it. If it helps you to get across the points you want to make, take a notepad into the interview with carefully created bullet points of questions you want to ask and points you want to express.
Vocalising key points effectively
Many candidates find it useful to prepare around three to five selling points in their head to use during their interview. These key points tell the interviewer why they are interested in the job role and what makes them the ideal candidate for the position. When preparing content for your interview, it is best to filter it into manageable chunks. This will ensure that your answers are not only coherent and professional, but cover all the key areas.
Keep your answers coherent and professional
You are bound to be nervous during your interview so do not be afraid to take your time to answer questions properly. It is much better to sit there silently for a few moments whilst you prepare your answer, than to speak instantly and say something incoherent.
Anticipate different types of interviews
Face-to-face interviews can follow various formats, so it is important to find out the type of interview you will be walking into, so you can best prepare yourself.
- Behavioral interviews: Behavioral interviews usually require you to give specific examples from past experiences in order to provide evidence of your knowledge, skills and expertise. It gives potential employers a better idea of how you would handle situations in the future. Prepare for behavioral interviews by thinking about the skills the job requires and tailoring your examples to show how you have utilised these skills in the past.
- Situational interviews: During situational interviews, the interviewer will present you with a number of hypothetical situations. You will then be asked to explain how you would act in each situation. Interviewers commonly use score evaluate candidates’ answers.
- Structured interviews: In this type of interview, all candidates will be asked the same set of questions and have their answers scored accordingly. Structured interviews may combine elements of situational and behavioral interviews. They may also include tests which are designed to prove that you can utilise the skills you claim to have.
- Unstructured interviews: Although unstructured interviews may appear more casual, it is important to answer the questions professionally. Unstructured interviews allow for better flow of conversation, with questions usually being based on individuals’ CVs and applications.
You can learn more about the different types of interviews here. Always remember start your interview off right by greeting the interviewer with a good firm handshake.
Adapting to interview environments
Although interview environments can be a little unsettling, do not let your nerves get the better of you. Prepare talking points in small, manageable chunks so that you are never left without something to say. If it helps, keep in mind that although you are being interviewed, you are actually interviewing the company too. Finally, don’t forget to breathe! A few discreet deep breaths can help you to have poise and release some of the tension from your body.