With a decade of recruitment experience and 8 years specialising within the area of Digital Marketing, as you can imagine I’ve arranged and been a part of my fair share of interviews.
January is a month you typically find many candidates decide to embark on seeking a new job opportunity. Perhaps after the Christmas hangover has worn off, peopled are buoyed by new year’s resolutions to make the forthcoming year even better than the last, and perhaps that means a new challenge, environment, sector to work in, or perhaps better pay.
You might be reading this and have interviews coming up. It might be something you haven’t done for a few years, so instead of going into it with hesitation, take a read through my Top 10 interview tips and go into it with confidence.
#1 – Research
Now I’d love to say this is a pretty obvious one, but you’ll be amazed at the amount of hiring managers I’ve spoken with after an interview where the candidate didn’t know much more about the company, than what I had told them beforehand. This is an easy one to nail, but of course does take time on your part. At the very least check out the company’s website, look at the about us page. Has there been any recent news updates on the site or perhaps by searching Google and clicking the news tab? Then take to LinkedIn. Have a look at everyone that you are due to be meeting. Do you share any common ground? Same University? Worked in a previous company? Have mutual connections you know well. These will prove as great ice breakers. Lastly, if the company is web or mobile focused, check it out. Download the app and step into the shoes of the customer. This will help you with ideas on how to make improvements for the area you’re being recruited in.
#2- Dress for the occasion
Back in the day this meant being ‘suited and booted’. Well, unless you are going into the Financial Services sector, things have changed. Ask your recruiter what the dress code is within the company and dress appropriately. Most online focused brands I’ve worked with have pretty relaxed rules on dress, so it’s advisable not to go in there with your best 3 piece. You’ll look out of place. I wouldn’t advise t-shirt and flip flops either. Even though the interviewers might be, I’d always say smart casual is best. Dark jeans, chinos, shirt or polo with a collar. That’s the safe zone.
#3 – Plan your route, know the location and arrive 7 minutes beforehand
Most of us will have nerves going into an interview and do you know what, that’s fine and expected. Butterflies in your stomach keeps your mind concentrated. But you don’t want to add any unnecessary stress to the day with location and time. Make sure you are 100% sure of the office location, plan out your route the day before (plus a Plan B if anything goes wrong) and aim to arrive 7 minutes before the start. This gives you enough time to sign into the building and sit down before being collected. Any earlier and your interviewer might be half way through a previous meeting and then feel rushed because you arrived 20 minutes early. Early is good, just not too early. Think 7.
#4 – Think about each question and ask for clarity if needed
Once you’re in the interview and facing the many questions they’ll have for you, pause at each one. Take a moment to process the question and don’t feel silly if you need any clarification. Most hiring managers will much prefer you fully understand the question and therefore give a great answer than think you know it and ramble on for 10 minutes talking about something they really didn’t want to hear.
#5 – Be clear and concise with your answers
This one leads on from number 4 but deserves its own point. When nervous, many of us tend to waffle. At the same time no one wants a one-word answer. Take a deep breath, think about the question and give a clear and concise answer. You don’t want to be rambling on for 5 minutes, not giving the interviewer time to interject and then at the end of the 5 minutes ask, ‘what was question again?”. You know what I’m talking about .
#6 – 3 key achievements & use data
This is a biggie. What have you done that really makes you stand out? Companies want to do 2 things, either save money or make money. How can you demonstrate you have done this in the past that relates to the role you are going for? Saying you set up PPC campaigns for a bunch of accounts and they did well doesn’t cut it I’m afraid. Saying you had 10 accounts to run across 3 markets being UK, Ireland, and Germany, and through optimisation and an AdWords script you created yourself reduced CPA by 20% and meant the business saved £2m in ad spend which was allocated into other channels…. That’s what I’m talking about. Tangible figures. Numbers are great aren’t they! Oh, and try make these relevant to the business you are interviewing for. Although the numbers may sound impressive, by making it relevant to how this business operates is a big plus.
#7 – What makes you unique
The beauty about us humans is that we are all unique. No one is the same and that’s a wonderful thing. So, if you’re in for a top Head of Digital Marketing role alongside 3 others who all have similar number of years’ experience, budgets managed, team size, etc…. what is going to make YOU stand out?
#8 – For the love of god, ask them questions
OK, I understand that during your interview the interviewer may have given you a wealth of information on the company, the role, and the culture of the business HOWEVER even if this is what you wanted to know, ask them questions. Can’t think of any? You’ll come across like you aren’t too bothered in them, the role and company. There is always something you can ask, they won’t cover everything. Don’t worry though. I created a blog a few years backthat’s still good for today and even if you don’t use these exact ones, it will put you on the right track.
#9 – Catch up with your recruiter
I always ask the candidates I’m working with to call me once the interview finishes. I find that whilst it’s still fresh in your mind, you’ll be able to share your thought and feelings much better than leaving it a day or 2. The other reason is that if there’s been a little mis-communication in one of your answers, I still have the chance to explain to the interviewer and put things right for you. I turned a ‘reject from process’ into a hire by doing this a few years back. So, if you’ve agreed to call your recruiter once the interview has finished, keep your word and do it. Not hearing from a candidate sometimes comes across that it’s been a shocker, or you aren’t that interested. Now, I appreciate things do come up, like you need to rush to your next meeting and don’t have time to speak which is fine. A quick text to tell them will go a long way.
#10 – Be open and honest / keep lines of communication open
Finally, my number 10 and it’s really a no-brainer. This should be understood from the very first time you speak with your recruiter but continue to be open and honest about your thoughts and feelings on the role and keep lines of communication open. It’s a human trait that we don’t like to give people bad news, however, trust me, if you’re working with a specialist who’s been working in the game as long as I have, we have pretty thick skin. Sure, you might disappoint us, but we want to continue to keep in touch for the future, so don’t sour the relationship but ‘ghosting’ your recruiter. This is a 2-way process though and means you should expect the same openness and clear lines of communication from your recruiter too.
There you have it. Perhaps you knew all the above, perhaps it was a re-fresher, or perhaps you have picked up a few snippets of gold that will now give you the confidence going into your next interview. Whichever it was, I wish you the best of luck!
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