After a period of being my own boss I was a bit worried about my first job interview in over 4 years. I have built confidence in giving presentations but I haven’t had to answer to anyone for a while and I really had to get back to basics in terms of interview techniques. Good news – I just accepted a job offer and I am really excited to get started. I wanted to share what I think went well and helped me get the job.
1. Know the sector
Although I am an experienced marketer I have never worked in the social enterprise sector before. I therefore found out what I could about these organisations. I didn’t set out to become an expert but I wanted to know what the challenges were and address these in the presentation. I also didn’t want to look naïve with some of my suggestions. For example, if you are presenting to a high street retailer, you shouldn’t ignore how that connects with e-commerce.
2. Know the organisation
I spent time on the organisations website and social media channels and performed a web search to see what press coverage they had, what organisations they were part of and who was promoting their services. That informed my presentation and helped me answer the question that was set.
3. Do a small survey
I asked my friends, family and business network what they knew about the organisation and the sector. It threw up entirely positive comments which was awesome feedback for the organisation. Even if the comments had not been positive I would have shared them as it allows you to address these and suggest solutions.
4. Talk about what you would do based on the evidence of your research
I was lucky that the presentation question asked me to make suggestions but even if it hadn’t, I still would have. Some might think this is a bold step. Ultimately, you want to work for an organisation that takes your ideas seriously and will get behind you to implement them. Not everything you suggest will be practical but it shows you are a problem-solver and get creative. Don’t be afraid to get bold. You are being assessed for your expertise and your ideas.
5. The professional stuff
Show up on time. Don’t be flustered. Research where your interview location is, exactly. I almost came a cropper there! The building wasn’t in the complex I thought it was. Dress smartly. I think a suit is almost always appropriate for an interview. I’m a blazer and dress girl though. Take care of your personal appearance – do your hair, shave, wear some nice jewellery – show that you care about details.
6. Prepare questions!
At the end of a presentation and grilling over questions, it is likely that your mind will go blank when the interviewers ask if you have any questions. I would definitely advise writing some down in advance. It’s ok to write a list and refer to this. It shows you have prepared and have the confidence to check in with your objectives. Ask about the organisation, how many other people work there, what is a typical day like etc. I take professional learning and development very seriously so I wanted to ask about opportunities there. I also asked about the resources that the post-holder would have to work with. I also took this opportunity to mention some dates I was already engaged to check this wasn’t an issue. Being honest about your own expectations will help build a good relationship with your potential employers from day one.
How did it go?
In this situation, I was lucky to have sympathetic interviewers. I don’t think that the good cop, bad cop interview technique of yesteryear is effective at all. I think good interviewers give you an opportunity to succeed. If you follow my tips you are well on your way. If you leave the interview with a good impression of the organisation, feel like you answered the interviewer’s questions well and that you are in with a good chance then you have done all you can. Ultimately it depends on how the other candidates perform and you can’t control that – just give yourself every chance of success and making a good impression.
What about you?
What are your top tips? Have you had a good interview experience lately? Any horrors?
Maybe you regularly conduct interviews… What impresses you?