Interviewing tips – Part One: Before the Interview

Before the interview

I’ve never counted, but over the past 10 years I must have either conducted and set up thousands of interviews. And during this time, I’ve seen some knockout ones and witnessed others that would make your toes curl.

Whilst I am still learning and being surprised every single day, I thought I’d share some hints/tips/do’s/don’ts I’ve picked up on interviewing for both the interviewee and the interviewer.

After all, an interview can’t have a positive outcome without both parties giving it the thumbs up.

Below is a list of my tips of things to do and think about before the interview.  I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts and ideas, so enjoy, and hope you find one or two useful snippets to use at your leisure.

Part One: Before the Interview

As an interview is the interaction between two human beings, the only cast iron guarantee is that every single interview will be different. It could be your fifth interview that day to recruit one role, or the seventh interview you have attended that week for seven similar roles, but it’s essential to treat each one as an individual event, and to prepare accordingly – so for both parties the prep starts well before 5 mins prior to the interview and yes, even in advance of the night before…

For the interviewer:

Prepare a welcome

Unless confidential, brief your front of house to expect the candidates arrival. When the candidate arrives it is incredibly reassuring and professional for them to hear “Welcome, Nicole is expecting you for the interview”.

Book a room

Don’t interview in the kitchen, canteen, or at your desk. The privacy protects confidentiality, is free from all distractions and will allow you to see the real candidate, without the disruption of John from accounts approaching you to discuss last month’s expenses

Allocate the time

If you allow an hour for each interview, is it wise to book three of them back to back at 9, 10 & 11 am? Is it correct to show one candidate out while the next is sat in reception? Does this give the right impression? And what if they know each other?

Research their background

Thoroughly read the candidate’s CV; not just a cursory glance as you are walking to meet them.

Find out more about them – at least look at their Linkedin profile.

Know a bit about the businesses they have worked for.

Prepare bespoke Qs around their background/experience.

Know your goals

Be clear in your objectives for the interview: This could be to uncover specifics regarding their skills, management style, motivations or aspirations etc. How will you uncover this information?

Prepare to sell the opportunity

This may not be the only role the candidate is looking at.

Sell your opportunity. Promote the company, the role and the future career opportunities.

Practice – what’s your elevator pitch? Why should someone work for you?

Always make it specific to the candidate’s requirements.

Allocate time for their Qs.

Give the candidate an opportunity to ask Qs.

They will have many and you will answer some throughout the interview, but to make an informed decision they need time to ask you Qs too.

The interviewee:

Research – and no excuses

Research the company: The corporate website goes without saying, but look at their competitors too. How do they differentiate themselves?

Research the interviewer: What is their background? Linkedin is a favorite, but try to find out more – what is their personality? How do they interview?

If you are using a recruiter, ask them to tell you all about them.

Research the job: This is vital. How can you effectively interview if you don’t fully understand the role?

Be specific

This is essential and more to follow in part two… But put simply: Know what makes YOU the IDEAL person for THIS job

Know what you do

Easy eh? But how well can you articulate who you are and what you do? And say it jargon free?

Practice your pitch

What do you want to know?

You will be expected to ask Qs, so prepare them. And make them good.

NB – how long do I get for lunch is not a good question!

And of course, plan your journey and polish your shoes!

p.s. Look out for Part 2 (During the interview) and Part 3 (After the interview) in blog posts to follow.


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