Mark Price

Engaging World
Six Steps to a Successful Job Interview.
You might have heard the quote, /"every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought./" It was written by Sun-Tzu, a Chinese military General, about 2,500 years ago. You/"re probably thinking, /"Has he gone mad? What have the utterings of an ancient soldier got to do with me going to a job interview?/" What Sun-Tzu meant by that phrase was that understanding your enemy, his strength, ability, ways of fighting, and then your own preparation to match it, would dictate whether you would win or lose a battle even before it began. For success for an interviews preparation, I believe, is the greatest determinant of whether you do yourself justice or not.

The Six steps are…

Step one. Research.

Step two. Turn the tables.

Step three. Questions, questions, questions.

Step four. Tests.

Step five. Looking right.

Step six. Performance time.

Step one. Research.

The chances are that you have an interview because the CV you sent to a company has been successful. Congratulations. If you have read Six Steps to your best CV ( link here) you/"ll know that the first thing I recommend when applying for a job is to find out about the company you are writing to and, as a consequence, really want to work there. That/"s even more important at the interview stage as your interest will be quizzed. So if you/"ve followed my advice and researched the company for your CV, dust off what you/"ve prepared. If you haven/"t done any research now is the time. Start by looking at the company/"s website and write down all the things you admire about the company and the things you feel less comfortable about. You can also research by asking the company to send you information, perhaps talk to people who work there or visit, if you are able. Furthermore, make sure you read any recent articles or press releases that give you the most up to date news on the company.

Having done all that you will now have a clear view of the organisation, its strengths, weaknesses and areas where it might develop.

To this list you should also add the things about you that will either make you a good, or not so good, fit for the job. You will already have begun that process if you have completed the CV form. You should know what you like most and least in your current and previous jobs through the workplace happiness survey. And which jobs are most likely to suit you, and how you will do a role, from completing the personality profile survey. Alongside that your CV should help you to think through what areas of your work experience, education, skills and hobbies make you a strong candidate and, just as importantly, what your areas for development will be.

Step two. Turn the tables.

Before you can begin step three, thinking about how you prepare to answer and ask questions, there's one more thing to consider in your preparation. For the interviewer it/"s not all about you! Their job will be to replace someone who has either happily or unhappily left the role. They might be adding to an existing team or building a new team from scratch. The manager you might be working with will have a personality profile too, which the recruiter needs to match the new candidate around, to get the most effective and efficient working relationship. And the team you might join will almost certainly have personality, as well as experience gaps, which will ideally need filling.

Never forget having the experience to do the job is just one piece of the jigsaw. As well as looking for skills the interviewer will be trying to place you in the context of the personal skills they need, to build a highly performing team. /"Chemistry/" as many people might call it. And as different personality types will be required at different times and under different circumstances the interview is the best place to test for that fit. It may well mean the most technically qualified or experienced person doesn/"t get the job. If, as I have set out in step one, you have an profile at you will know your personality profile. But now try to do some detective work, in advance of the interview, to find out what kind of character the organisation is looking for for this role. Job matching on already uses personality profile data from individuals and the employers to provide the best match but now, at interview, you/"ll need to draw it out from your conversation. The interview is just as much about you feeling happy as the employer.

There may be hints in the job advert as to what profile the organisation are looking for, such as, /"Applicant needed to join a successful team/" or /"a new team/" or /"to challenge existing methods/" all give a clue. You might ask the recruiter in advance for information on the team you are hoping to join. But your interview answers and questions give you to best chance to demonstrate your emotional intelligence by drawing out these questions of /"chemistry/" or personality fit.

Step three. Questions, questions, questions.

Based on steps one and two you are now ready to prepare for the questions you might be asked and how you will answer, and just as importantly the question you want to ask and the answers you would like to solicit.

Let/"s start with the questions you think you are most likely to be asked and how you can answer them to demonstrate your fit and suitability for the role. In front of you it/"s best to have your CV, the notes you have made about the organisation and yourself.

What the interviewer will try to do is either get more information on the things in your application which support you getting the role, or those that raise doubts in their mind. That will be based on your work experience and technical skills you may or may not have, and how you will fit with the existing or new teams. Remember the key is to answer each question in a way that builds your case for the job.

They are likely to start with some questions to put you at your ease like, /"did you find the office ok?/" or /"how was your journey?/" You can plan now to avoid monosyllabic answers like /"yes/" and /"ok/" and instead begin a conversation. Your answer to these straightforward questions is already going to say a lot about you. Your struggles to find the building may indicate you didn/"t research properly, if you say it was a terrible journey it may make the employer think this might be an issue in the future.

In one form or another you will be asked why you are the best person for this job, or what are your strengths and weaknesses. This is the perfect platform for you to set out an answer that allows you to demonstrate the best match between the role and your skills. When tackling your weaknesses don/"t say, /"I work too hard/" or /"I/"m obsessed with getting the detail right/" which may well be true, but everyone uses to try and look good. It doesn/"t work in my view. Rather think about your areas for development; everybody has them. So /"I feel I can still learn more about…/" or /"I am thinking about how I work better with people with this or that kind of personality profile/" or /"I tend to work less well when the team I'm in does…/"

Rehearse in questions what you've written on your CV, stressing what you achieved and thinking about how you will link it to the role you're applying for. Quite often you will get a question like /"I see you worked for so and so/", or /"I see you like playing golf/". If you have composed your CV well at you will have already set out briefly how those jobs and hobbies will make you a good candidate. This is your chance to think of an answer which elaborates on that.

Don/"t be worried about answering questions on gaps in your work history but do think now about delivering positive answers. /"Why did you leave so and so?/" can be answered, /"because there was a large organisational restructure. I/"ve used the time since to develop by…/" or /"because the skills and experience going forward in the team were not where I felt I added most value. My skills are…/". I am not suggesting for one minute you should lie but I do believe there are positives to be drawn out, lessons you have learnt, experience gained which make you a better candidate this time around.

Having thought about the questions you are likely to get and how you might answer them you should plan your questions. These are questions to help try and reinforce to the interviewer why you are a great candidate but also help you understand if it/"s the right job for you.

You can start by demonstrating your knowledge of the company through your research. You might say, /"Sales growth for the last three years have been excellent and you say that/"s down to Y in your company report. How do you see that progress being maintained?/" /"You have launched X Y Z products successfully in the recent past, could you tell me something about the new product launches coming up?/" Or /"Could you tell me something about the skills and experience of the people I/"ll be working with, and what kind of personality fit your looking for the right candidate to have?/" Or /"In a years time what positives would you like to give about what I/"d achieved if I were to get this role?/" In these kind of examples your questions are demonstrating a knowledge of the company, the fact you will need to fit in and almost certainly allow you to have a conversation which again highlights your attributes.

My last piece of advice in this section is to practice with someone the questions you think which might come up, and your proposed answers, but also questions which occur to them. Try also to address questions that you would find tough to answer. Then rehearse and sculpt your answers over and over. Try to think about the three things about you you would want the interviewer to remember after the interview. Repetition isn/"t a bad thing.

Step four. Test

There is a very high possibility that you might have some form of test at interview. You should ask before you go to the interview if that will be the case, and try to find out what sort of tests you might do.

The test will either be to test your technical ability or (through psychometric testing) your personality traits. You can train for both. Many psychometric tests are available to do online. Doing them and reflecting on the job you are applying for will allow you to understand where your profile will most and least fit. There are no right and wrong answers. We all have strengths and allowable weaknesses. If you go to engaging.Works you can complete a personality survey to understand how these things work.

You should have a pretty good idea what the practical test might be for the job you/"re applying for. It might involve letter writing, a maths test or coding in IT. In each case I would recommend spending some time practicing these areas so you are /"match fit/", particularly if they are not a major part of your current job.

Step five. Looking right.

There is never a second chance to make a first impression. And first impressions really count. Many or most interviewers will have decided within a minute whether you are going to fit or not!

So give yourself enough time to get to the interview. You never want to walk in looking rushed and flushed. My advice is that you wear smart professional clothes for the interview even if the company/"s dress code is relaxed. You want to show you have made an effort. Hair cut and neatly presented, clean shoes and nails are all noticed. How can you possibly be given responsibility if you can/"t be responsible for your own appearance.

Step six. Performing.

Now it/"s the interview. Your name is called and you walk into the room. If you've done your home work you should be feeling confident and looking forward to the conversation and finding out if you are the best candidate to fill this role. You already have the experience to do the job, the fact that having read your CV they've invited you for interview is proof of that.

This now is the opportunity to promote yourself and build a rapport and empathy with the interviewer so they, and you, can best judge if this is the job for you.

As you walk in smile and walk tall. Put out your hand to shake the hand of your interviewer or interviewers. Look them firmly in the eye. My tip is to look at each of their eyeballs. Say, /"Good morning, I/"m pleased to meet you. Thank you for giving me the time/"

Sit when you are invited to do so.

Now listen very carefully to what they say. The temptation is to be thinking about what you want to say and get across. But if you've rehearsed it/"s all in your head. Relax. Listen and smile. If you don/"t understand the question ask them to repeat it, /"please/". Manners are important.

As you/"re trying to build a rapport try to build conversations from the questions and answers you give. For instance they might ask, /"Tell me what you have done around data management?/" In addition to telling them you might end by saying, /"How important is data management in your future plans?/" From their response you can build a mutually supportive conversation.

Always ask questions at the end of the interview to show you have researched the company and as a chance to reiterate once more the key points you want to impress on your prospective new employer. Once you have finished thank the interviewer once more for their time and for considering you for the role. Shake hands again before you leave, look the interviewer in the eyes and smile.

By the end of the interview you should have been able to reinforce to the interviewer that you have the experience and skills to do the job based on your CV. That you have the right personal characteristics to be effective, and that you have put yourself out to give a compelling interview and so want the job.

The rest is down to whether what you have is right for the organisation at that time. If it isn/"t don/"t beat yourself up. If you've followed the steps above you have been the best you could be.

One final thought. You might want to write a thank you letter to the interviewer. It simply needs to say your enjoyed meeting them, the interview, and it has convinced you even more that organisation Y is where you would like to work. If you don/"t get the job that note will be a good marker for the future.

Good luck.