If you looking for a role and get asked to attend an interview at short notice, you can outshine the competition with a little thinking ahead and some speedy preparation. The following checklist, offered by the interview team, won’t take you long to do and will help you be ready for the call that says, “…and the interview is tomorrow morning”.
1. Conduct basic interview research
- To prepare for any client interview, find out as much as you can beforehand. Such as: Who will you be talking to? Will you meet the manager the role reports to, or will you just talk to HR? What are the interviewer's expectations?
- What's the dress code? People must be dressed appropriately and smartly. We do find that we have to spell this out sometimes, especially for younger applicants; it means suits and ties for men, business dress for women, whether it’s an interview in person or via Skype.
- Review the role description, how do your experience and skills match the client’s requirements. If you don't have a detailed job description, ask for one.
If you don’t have a role description or need clarity on any of these points, call us and ask.
2. Learn about the company
This can be done quickly and gives you something to talk about apart from the role being offered. Check our client’s website, LinkedIn page or simply Google, there’s typically a great deal of information out there, e.g.:
- How big is the company in terms of annual sales or employees?
- What does the company say about its products or services?
- What recent news (such as a new product, regulatory statement, an interview with the CEO) might you be able to use in the interview?
- If the company is public; press releases will tell you a lot.
We will always tell you as much as we can about any role.
3. Always keep your CV up to date
It really helps. Make sure you know it inside out. Have your answers to the evidential questions about what you did in your last role/s prepared, be ready to explain why the last role ended and why you are interested in and suitable for the role being offered. If it’s a role that requires you to work away from home, make sure you are ready to answer any questions about the practicality of that for you.
Our earlier article on Top Tips for Making Relocating a Success can help you prepare for questions about relocation.
4. Remind yourself of how you best tell your own work/life achievements.
A typical interview question is to be asked about yourself and achievements. Think about this before the interview. If you know you can talk confidently about three achievement stories, it just gives you that little extra peace of mind if you get asked for an interview at short notice.
Maybe they are stories about an achievement at work or community/home life such as your involvement in a local charity and how you overcame a big challenge there.
You need to demonstrate hard-to-measure qualities like judgment, initiative, teamwork or leadership. Wherever possible, quantify what you've done, e.g., "increased sales by 10%”, "reduced customer call waiting time by 20%”, "streamlined delivery so that customers received the information within two days”. Take care to not exaggerate your role or the achievement. Achievement stories make you memorable, which is what you want.
5. Prepare an answer if you get asked about strengths and weaknesses.
These are interview standards. Just be prepared for a good answer on both counts. There’s much advice out there on how best to answer these – but we can always provide some guidance if needed.
6. Plan your journey
Again, it sounds obvious but people should plan their journeys to the interview so they don’t get lost or run the risk of being late. It always helps to check the tube or traffic forecasts. Get directions to the client’s office. Plan to leave early. Keep a phone number to call if you get stuck on the bus or in traffic. If you arrive late and stressed, there is an increased risk that the interview will not go well. If you are driving, check the parking situation. The last thing you want is to waste all of your interview preparation by arriving flustered and panicked because you couldn't find a parking space.
7. Know what you are going to wear - and go to bed early!
It sounds obvious but with everything else prepared, it saves time and energy on the day itself to know in advance what your interview suit/outfit is going to be. Finally, as with all important occasions, it’s always helpful to get a good night's rest.