Before the interview
Study the products & services, the market, the clients and everything else you can find about the company before meeting them. Research news articles, blogs and social media pages.
Gather inside knowledge
Ask your network if anyone has any information about the company. On social media, don’t hesitate to contact people who have previous experience working for the company you are meeting. While it may be sensitive to contact people currently working there, you run no risk in contacting former employees. As well as the general atmosphere, management styles and company culture, you can also ask them about the dress code so as not to commit any faux-pas during the interview.
Come to grips with the position:
With all the information you have collected, think about how your experience and skills could benefit the company, how you would go about learning the ropes, your strengths and weaknesses linked to this position.
This approach will enable you to think about relevant questions to ask during the interview and will show your implication in the project.
Think like a recruiter
Imagine you are the one who has to decide on the best candidate and interview them: what skills, personality traits and type of attitude would you evaluate? What do you want to hear? What are you expecting in terms of appearance, of ways of expressing themselves? What could convince you that the candidate is the right one for the position?
This quick exercise will make you think about how to present elements or topics you would otherwise not have thought to broach.
During the interview:
Present your career path in a coherent manner:
Even though career paths can be chaotic or come about by chance, try and take a step back and find a common thread to your career path.
If you are unable to find a logical connection between your different positions, try and show how each of these make you a good candidate for position you are applying to.
Every past role is important:
For each of your past roles, think about the skills you obtained or perfected. This will bring to light your ability to see the broader picture.
This will also enable you to transform each experience into something positive. Failures become learning experiences, a period of time working temporary odd jobs becomes an opportunity to discover different working environments and to develop your ability to adapt, etc.
Prepare concrete examples
For each skill or quality you mention, be ready with a concrete example which will give your words some weight.
A fault confessed… is half redressed
It is important you are able to discuss your flaws and failures. Opening up about them will also reassure the recruiter as to your sincerity.
However, you must show how you remedy and make up for your flaws, or show you have learnt from your mistakes or failures.
In 30 or 40 seconds, summarize your career path showcasing the logic behind each step and why you are the best person for this position.
This will enable you to answer all of a recruiter’s favourite questions: why are you the best for this position? Why choose you rather than another? etc.
This could also nicely introduce or conclude a more detailed presentation of your career path.
It also shows you are able to see the bigger picture and to be concise.
Ask the right questions
Everyone will tell you to ask questions during the interview, and they’re right. If the position truly interests you and you have prepared the interview, you will have no difficulty in finding the right questions to ask.
Be careful, of course, to not ask just any question. During the initial interview, your objective is to convince the recruiter and show your motivation. Be interested in the company, in the position, the tasks, the company culture, the prospects…
Questions regarding working hours, holidays, perks and more generally anything not directly related to the position should be kept for a later time.
The topic of salary should be brought up by the company and kept for later. You need to first convince them about your skills, you will then be able to negotiate other conditions. Conditions regarding salary will also be easier to approach once the company has decided it’s you they want to recruit.
After the interview:
That same day or the following day, and depending on the type of interview, it may be relevant to send an email to the person who interviewed you. As you see fit, you can send:
- A quick thank-you email
- A brief account of the information you received and confirmation of your interest in the position
- An email providing follow-up details (for example a list of clients, a news article on a topic you discussed, a link to a website showcasing your work…)