Articles From the Team
How to best prepare for an interview… and one mistake that you will never recover from!
“So tell me, what do you know about this company?”
It doesn’t matter at what point in the interview this question comes up, it is one you should always have an answer for. A lawyer that I was recently assisting with an in-house legal move did not prepare appropriately and the hiring manager took this as a warning sign that they would not prepare their day to day work correctly either. The most frustrating aspect for me was that I had laid the answers on a plate for them, painstakingly putting together information on the core business and the subsidiaries, who the key players were and even down to the principles of the business (often more important within smaller companies).
When the lawyer was asked the above question they came up with no response at all apart from the name of this business, this not only reflected terribly on them but also reflected badly on me as the recruiter. I am a relaxed and easy going chap and I don’t mind mistakes as they are part of the fabric of life but there were no real excuses for this one. The lawyer and I had talked through the business verbally and I had sent them a preparation pack the week before. I had even rung to check that they had read it (perhaps I should ask questions on the source material next time!).
Of course the kind of interviewee described above will never prepare, but for those of you that do enjoy trying to get into the mind of hiring staff and preparing for success, the following thoughts may be useful.
Understand the situation
- Understand the ownership of the business (private equity, plc, charity etc) - Priorities that might fall out of that ownership (profit, action, making the world a better place) - What is the structure of the business (subsidiaries, locations, geographic centres of mass for functions) - What will your team do and what is your position within it? - What is the team’s position in the business? - Why are they hiring?
- Appropriate wear - Timings & travel - Location - Who are you meeting?
Translate yourself to them
- What is your relevant experience in relation to the job description? - Your potential - Why you above others? - Thoughtful questions on the role
Red team their actions and reactions
- What questions will they ask? Why? - What responses will they have to your points? Why?
Read the interview as it happens
- Body language - Attitude - Character - Positioning - Where will you sit?
After the event
- Assess your performance honestly and make adjustments - Decide if you can work with those that have interviewed you - Decide if the role is something that appeals
During the interview the most important aspect is to take your time with your responses and speak clearly and as committedly as you can on whatever the topic is. If you don’t know something, focus on what you do know and how you can learn what you don’t.
An interview is mostly about preparation and then the presentation of what you know. Be emotionally intelligent enough to adapt your presentation to the character in front of you and you won’t go far wrong. Importantly remember it is a two-way process and do try to be forming your own opinions as well as trying to impress those before you.
Good luck and tell me... ”What do you know about this company?”
*the list above by no means exhaustive!