Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Top Tips - Interviews

So you've been invited to an interview - congratulations.  You probably have mixed feelings - excitement, nerves, what to wear...As someone who has interviewed at all levels for a great variety of roles here are some of my top tips to help you get the most out of the process.

Firstly, have a look at this video. It's from a Heineken Campaign to find their next Intern.  I first saw this at the Changeboard Future Talent Conference during a presentation by Alex Lowe - Industry Head at Google.

Be Yourself
The video illustrates one of my key points very well - be yourself.  Put yourself in the shoes of the people interviewing you - if you are focussed on delivering well rehearsed answers you may not be listening properly to the questions and you will certainly not be your natural, spontaneous self.  Having a succession of candidates reeling off very similar responses can be quite tedious.  Don't be afraid to show your character, personality and energy.

Impact of the video on the Heineken employees
Incidentally - this video went viral and currently has had almost 6 million views.  It was also highly appreciated by Heineken employees and increased traffic to their internal HR website by 279%.

Preparation
Being yourself does not mean that you don't need to prepare. You'll need to research the company in detail.  As you review the company information make a note of your thoughts and questions that come to you, they'll be useful when you are asked "Do you have any questions for us?".

Think about:
  • the priorities of the organisation;
  • the culture;
  • the current challenges;
  • the expectations of the role.
Another great resource is Glassdoor which has a companies and reviews section, with feedback from current and former employees, which can be quite illuminating.  It also has a section on interviews which details procedures and common questions.  One word of caution - don't get too hung up on the interview questions.  They may have been specific to a role or some canny HR sort may have changed the regular questions.  If you are too expectant of specific questions you may be thrown by new ones.

Change your Perspective
Consider the job advert from the perspective of your new boss.  
  • How can your specific experience and what you have achieved and delivered be relevant to the role?
  • From your research, do you think you will fit the culture?
  • What difference would you make?
More and more companies today are interested in attitudes and personality. When these are right for the company they can invest in your development to fill any technical gaps.

Be honest and consider what you can bring to the role and why you applied for it the first place.  

Visualise yourself in the Interview
Create a picture in your mind of you in the interview situation.  You probably won't know the room or the interview panel, so just imagine a room with a table and a person (or people) conducting the interview.  Imagine yourself feeling confident, being clear and being engaging (you can substitute these words for ones that resonate with you), turn up those positive feelings so you can hear your voice.  Now, using the same scenario, imagine the interview from the perspective of a camera on the wall, so you can see yourself and the interviewer(s).  See, hear and feel yourself being X, Y and Z (again, substitute words of your choice here).  

Repeat these loops at regular intervals.  You'll be surprised how effective it can be.  Top athletes use these techniques all the time. 

Try Not to...
It's OK to be nervous and most interviewers will make allowances.

When people are nervous they quite often say things like:
  • "I don't think that's answered your question."
  • "That wasn't a very good answer."
  • "I think you'll have forgotten me as soon as I have left the room."
These are all genuine responses I have experienced.  Try not to plant such thoughts in the minds of those conducting the interview.  If you're not sure your response has covered all the points you could ask:

"Has that covered all the points you were looking for?" or remain silent. If they want more they'll ask for it.

A final point for this post.  If you're calling the contact listed in the advert for details of the process or to check your application has been received, be nice. This person has probably been heavily involved in the recruitment process and will be fielding queries from multiple applicants.  Under no circumstances should you get shirty, raise your voice or criticise the process or the form.  The person you're speaking to could very well have a voice (albeit an informal one).  If you've made multiple enquiries about information already available, called up to criticise the process or got a bit tetchy with the named contact, your behaviour will probably reach the ears of those conducting the process.

Cheers

Ross