Congratulations, you’ve got an interview! It’s always exciting to hear you’ve got over the first hurdle and they want to meet you.
But once the excitement wears off and the interview date is confirmed, that’s when the nerves can start to surface. The realisation that you’ve now got to prepare for an interview - for a job you really want - can be daunting.
Here at Langley, we have over 20 years’ experience of guiding candidates through the interview process, so we know how nerve-racking it can be. We’ve also received a lot of post-interview feedback from clients over this time, helping us to gain some valuable insights into what makes a winning interview.
To help you through your interview process and make sure you perform at your best on the day, we’ve put together these 12 tips for a successful job interview:
Before the big day:
1. Do your company research
Research the company beforehand to get a good understanding of their current projects, as well as the company culture and values. Make sure you have a good read of their company website and look up any industry news that’s relevant to them.
To leam the company language, try highlighting key threads and recurring messages that appear throughout the job advert, job spec and person spec. You can then use this language during your interview to show you’d be a good fit for their business.
2. Do your panel research
As well as understanding the company culture, familiarising yourself with the interview panel can give you a great advantage. Have a look at their profiles on Linkedin and read any recent posts. And don’t worry that they’ll be able to see – this shows that you’re keen and doing your research. You’ll also be able to see if you have any mutual networks or connections in common that you can mention on the day.
You should also ask around and see if anyone in your network has worked for the business before or is a current employee. This is a great way to get some additional insights and a well-rounded understanding of the company.
3. Prepare your examples
Think of six commercial projects you’ve led on or had significant involvement in, then expand on each one in its entirety using the STAR model. This means thinking about:
Situation – the situation you had to deal with
Task – the task you were set
Action – the action you took
Result – what happened as a result of your actions
Build each example up as much as you can, by asking yourself ‘what else?’, ‘who else?’. This will give you a bank of examples that you can refer to during the interview.
4. Compare your skills with the spec
Put the job spec and your CV side by side and compare the requirements with your experience.
Match the key responsibilities and skills with your career to date and see where your experience makes you a good fit for the role. Then prepare to reference these in the interview, such as ‘you’ll see that in my role in 2020…’. If you find you tick most of the boxes, then this will be a big confidence boost.
Where there are responsibilities or skills you’re not experienced in, consider these as development areas. Think about how you’ll position this positively in the interview. Everyone has room for development in certain areas, so don’t let this lead to any self-doubt.
5. Anticipate any reservations
It’s unlikely that your skills and experience will be an exact match for the job spec, so take time to think about any reservations or concerns the panel might have about you. If they have a lot of candidates to interview, they’re going to be looking for quick ways to discount people.
In the areas where you’re lacking experience, think about how you would develop those skills or what you would do to improve. It’s about demonstrating tenacity, positivity and the enthusiasm to develop. So, if you know there’s something that you aren’t strong in, be prepared with examples of what you would do to develop.
You may have all the answers ready in your head, but can you articulate them well when the time comes? Don’t take a chance on this. It’s amazing how what you thought was a cleverly constructed answer, can quickly unravel when you’re speaking under pressure.
So, practice your interview answers out loud over and over again. You’ll probably find that the more you practice the more you’ll start to edit your answers, making them more concise and impactful each time.
To help, ask a friend or family member to practice with you. Give them the anticipated questions and act out the interview. Or try recording yourself. Listening to yourself answering the questions will help you to see where you can make some improvements.
On the day:
7. Make that first impression count
We’ve heard it before, but it’s still as true as ever - first impressions do count. So, in those first few seconds of the interview, make sure you make your mark.
A confident handshake, a smile and maintaining good eye contact are key to getting the interview off to a good start. If the interview’s via a video call, a confident poise and maintaining eye contact are important.
8. Refer to your research
If you’ve done your company and panel research, then show them – don’t wait to be asked. Mention the latest news updates you read about them or mention early on that you’ve looked at their Linkedin profiles.
Then throughout the interview refer back to anything relevant you saw on their website to support your answers. This all helps to show your enthusiasm for the role and your interest in the company.
9. Focus on output
When you’re talking through your STAR model answers, as well as highlighting the main headline result, think about what other positive outcomes your actions had. For example, your actions may have resulted in some great savings for your company, but maybe it also helped you to forge a stronger relationship with a key stakeholder. Do this with every STAR model answer and try and give at least two positive results for every action.
10. Clarify with confidence
If your answer doesn’t quite get the positive reaction you were hoping for, don’t be afraid to clarify what you’ve said. Ask: ‘Has my answer given you everything you need, or would you like me to expand into any other areas?’
This gives you a second chance to cover anything that you missed in your original answer.
11. Ask questions
Always make sure you ask questions at the end of the interview. This shows you’re curious and genuinely interested in the role. This is your chance to ask about the company culture, key role deliverables and the potential for future career development.
If you ask insightful questions, you’ll come across as interested, knowledgeable and someone who knows what they’re talking about.
12. Leave on a positive note
Always end the interview by thanking the panel for their time and reiterating how interested in the role you are.
If you still really want the job, then don’t be afraid to tell them. The panel will be grateful for your honesty and if it’s a choice between you and another candidate, they may be more inclined to offer it to you as they’re confident you’ll take it.
And then breathe… You’ve survived the interview! But you still have one last job, and that’s to follow up.
Speak to your recruitment consultant to let them know how it went. If you’re concerned that one of your answers didn’t quite connect with the panel, let your recruitment consultant know. They can address this with their client in a follow-up call, and it may help to quash any concerns the panel has.
If you were interviewed directly, then send a follow-up email later that day thanking the panel again for their time. This will demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job and leave a positive lasting impression - which could be the deal maker.
Can we help?
If you’re looking for your next role in supply chain or procurement, then why not get in touch.
As specialists in procurement and supply chain recruitment, we work closely with all our candidates to identify the best roles for them and guide them through the interview process.
If you’d like to find out how we can help you, contact us here or give us a call on +44(0)333 366 0839.