BRINGING TOGETHER THE BEST SKILLS IN SUPPORT OF THE MAJOR INDUSTRIAL PLAYERS

Join us...

BRINGING TOGETHER THE BEST SKILLS IN SUPPORT OF THE MAJOR INDUSTRIAL PLAYERS

Join us...

BRINGING TOGETHER THE BEST SKILLS IN SUPPORT OF THE MAJOR INDUSTRIAL PLAYERS

Join us...

BRINGING TOGETHER THE BEST SKILLS IN SUPPORT OF THE MAJOR INDUSTRIAL PLAYERS

Join us...

BRINGING TOGETHER THE BEST SKILLS IN SUPPORT OF THE MAJOR INDUSTRIAL PLAYERS

Join us...

BRINGING TOGETHER THE BEST SKILLS IN SUPPORT OF THE MAJOR INDUSTRIAL PLAYERS

Join us...

BRINGING TOGETHER THE BEST SKILLS IN SUPPORT OF THE MAJOR INDUSTRIAL PLAYERS

Join us...

How to prepare for your interview

Preparing yourself for selection interviews

It’s time for you to get ready to meet your future employer, whatever situation you are in (whether you’re actively looking for a job or not). Here’s the scenario: you are called for 9.30am next Tuesday to meet Mr. Nice and Ms. Nasty of a company called Paradise Inc, at 485 Bastille Street, 6th floor. The purpose of this section is to help you prepare for a selection interview in order to optimise your performance and make the best possible impression. Selection interviews are often short, and you usually only have an hour to make your case.
Whatever your profession, you need to be prepared for every kind of meeting, and you need to be able to sell yourself without selling out. The interview is the central moment in the selection process and the cornerstone of the recruitment process.
When you prepare for a selection interview, you need to be well aware of the role of the recruiter and its limitations. We’re going to identify different kinds of recruiter and their roles within organisations, and how you can derive the most advantage from them.

PRELIMINARIES AND PREPARATION

Making the appointment
You may think it’s a minor detail, but have you made a note of the number, floor, which end of the street and the nearest subway stop? These minor details will enable you to arrive on time and unstressed (I always have a problem with candidates who arrive half an hour late, sweating profusely because they had gone to the wrong address). And I almost forgot – pay attention to the person who arranges the appointment with you. The fact that they are the secretary or the assistant doesn’t mean you can forget your good manners. (Personally, I love having people think I’m my assistant, and sometimes the mighty are fallen when I chat with a candidate who thinks I’m a candidate too!!)

Gathering information about the company and the job
Your appointment may have been confirmed, but don’t rest on your laurels. There are more details: have you any idea who you’re going to meet and what the company does? What’s its market? What are its products or services? You have to PREPARE.
The internet can be extremely helpful. Go to the company’s website, read the trade magazines and papers, do some research on the annual report. Doing this will both ensure that you don’t give the impression of being unprepared and will also serve to demonstrate your motivation and your ability to seek out information.

Identifying your interviewers
It’s not indiscreet to find out who you’re going to meet, on the contrary it will help you to define your objectives for this first meeting. So if you’re only going to meet people from the human resources department, you’ll know there’s no point in asking very specific questions about subjects for which your interviewer won’t have all the answers, and which would just make them feel embarrassed. If the interview is with someone from human resources and the manager (i.e. your future boss) you can go into detail and make the interview richer.

“D-DAY”

Getting ready psychologically
There’s no point meditating or lighting Zen candles before an interview, but it’s important to have a good night’s sleep, especially if the interview is at 8am. Bleary eyes and grey skin don’t make you look dynamic or in good shape!
Final details (an original of your CV, how you look, the place, and confirming the appointment)
Make sure you have an original of your CV with you (no-one’s perfect, and if your interviewer hasn’t prepared that doesn’t mean you don’t have to). If you’re driving, think about parking. I’m often faced with candidates who say half way through the interview that they have to go to feed the meter and will come back right away. Seriously!
Don’t use too much fragrance and dress appropriately. A striped three-piece suit to visit a multimedia company is as bad as a cute leopard skin skirt, fashionable as it may be, to see a bank. I won’t go into details of tastes and colours, but play a little safe.

YOUR SCHEDULE FOR THE DAY

You never know how long an interview is going to last (although the norm is about 90 minutes). Be ready for every eventuality and avoid at all costs having to leave saying that a) you’re sorry but you have to meet another potential employer in 10 minutes, or b) that you have to pick up your child at 5 o’clock!

THE KEY MOMENTS OF THE INTERVIEW
Arrival

Whoever comes to greet you, always be courteous (even with the secretary or the assistant) and appear relaxed, fresh and open.

Recruiter’s introduction, the crucial first five minutes
It’s often said that everything is decided in the first 3 minutes. The beginning of the interview will set the tone. Pay attention to signals (does your interviewer look preoccupied? Does s/he look as if s/he has time to talk to you?) and adapt your behaviour accordingly.

Ask intelligent questions and be able to respond to questions, a matter of preparation

if you have prepared well, you’ll be able to answer questions and to ask your interviewers questions which are RELEVANT. Never turn up with a shopping list of questions (it’s not you who’s conducting the interview) but be able to pick up on things your interviewers say and make good use of them. Don’t ask questions about hours of work and perks at the first interview. The more time you spend asking about the responsibilities and content of the position, the better you’ll look to the future employer.

Detect loopholes and opportunities by your behaviour and that of the recruiter
The golden rule is as follows: there are no bad candidates or bad career opportunities. There are candidates who are not suited to the specific opportunity on offer!

Once you’ve fully understood this, you’ll realise that there’s no point selling yourself more than you need to. You’re sitting there to find out whether your experience matches what the company has to offer you. If you have 20 years of experience in accounting and you’re being assessed for a job as a junior accounting analyst, there’s no point saying that you’re flexible and willing to take on new challenges (although in this case, why did they call you to interview? And why not ask your
interviewers if there are other openings?)

Some other advice on WHAT NOT TO DO:
Fail to listen, thereby making your interviewers repeat themselves (infuriating, believe me!)

  • Fail to listen, thereby making your interviewers repeat themselves (infuriating, believe me!)
  • Talk about your private life (inappropriate)
  • Chew gum (you’re not a cow)
  • Criticize your previous employer (fatal mistake)
  • Lie about your qualifications and previous experience (very risky)
  • Kiss your interviewer good bye (yes, people have tried to do that to me)
  • If the interview takes place in a restaurant, remember what your mother used to tell you (sit up straight, use your knife and fork correctly, don’t eat noisily, drink mineral or sparkling water, don’t eat anything heavy or in a sauce – it could stain. And you’re there to discuss the company and the job, not the quality of the food!)

Making your case and marketing yourself
The most important thing is to know YOURSELF and to be capable of presenting your achievements and showing how you can distinguish yourself from the other candidates. This doesn’t mean reeling off a prepared speech but rather knowing how to make the most of your previous experience in relation to the position being offered. Emphasize your PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS, those you can be proud of and which you can also explain.
Ask yourself this question – What is the difference between one comptroller and another? If you yourself had to hire a financial analyst/accountant, on what criteria would you base your decision?

Knowing how to finish
It’s time to say goodbye: generally your interviewer will ask if you have any OTHER questions. You may have one or two (on a succession of events for example) but don’t return to matters which have already been discussed and don’t try to re-open the discussion. Thank your interviewers for their time, shake hands and leave. (When you get home, don’t forget to send a short email to say thank-you and/or provide additional information if necessary).

This post is also available in: French