Top 5 Tips To Smash Your Next Interview!

Hopefully, you realised that my last post was tongue in cheek- if you missed it, you can read it here-  How to Trump your Jobsearch.  I’m hoping so.  I haven’t received any complaints yet stating that someone tried the “crotch grab” in their last interview, and I’m confident it hasn’t encouraged any kind of lewd behaviour in anyone’s next interview.

But, I’m not all whimsy- I am a serious career recruiter goddammit, and I have gems of wisdom to hurl at your eyes right now!  To cover myself for the last blog, I thought it worth giving my top 5 tips to succeed in your next interview.  Now, this is a well trodden path with swarms of blogs (what is the collective noun for blogs??) giving the basic advice- you can see a couple here and here.  But most people know this, so I want to help you stand out from the rest of the interviewees (whats the collective noun for interviewees- I’d like to suggest a nerves of interviewees).

So my Top 5 Tips to smash your next interview out of the park are:

  1. Be Yourself– It sounds easy, but it is the one people struggle with the most.  But why?  It’s just a conversation at the end of the day.  A conversation which could change the rest of your life, but it’s still just a conversation.  And the best bit, it is a conversation all about you!!!  How great is that?  That is a topic you probably know quite a bit about!  In all seriousness, interviewers want to feel engaged with the interviewee, and if you are too guarded and trying to force the issue too much, that won’t happen.  The fact is that most people will be very formal, very false, and very unhuman. The robots haven’t taken over yet (quite), so interviewers are still looking for PEOPLE with a PERSONALITY and want to get to know the person behind the CV to ensure they will be a good “fit” for their team/department/company.  So stop pretending to be someone or something else.  Relax, be yourself, be natural, and if they don’t like you- you probably wouldn’t have liked working there anyway, so move on to the next interview.
  2. Tell them a story– I obviously don’t mean take in a copy of Each Peach Pear Plum or The Gruffalo’s Child (spot the man with young kids), but create an engaging answer by making it REAL.  When asked a competency question, set the scene, tell them what you had to do and why you needed to do that and what the resultant outcome was.  Try and add emotion to it too to really create a rich picture which interviewers will remember afterwards (this is also called the STAR technique).
  3. Be aware of “what you are packing” – I don’t mean a suitcase, I mean know what you have to offer- what benefit you can bring to the organisation.  Have a think about your strengths, how you have developed and where you are wanting you career to go, and align that with their organisation.
  4. Have a plan and tell them about it– This is a really useful trick for a number of reasons.  Before the interview, do as much prep as you can- find out what they want for this role and where they see it going, where the department is going, and put together a rough plan of what you would do in the first month, first 3 months and first 6 months.  During the interview, ask questions that will help inform your plan and sell the plan back to them.  This not only shows them that you have put real thought in to working there, it also demonstrates your focus and commitment to the role you haven’t even got yet, but even more so, it puts you in the role in their heads.  If they are picturing you in the role, you are already halfway there!  Try it, I promise it works!
  5. Focus on the future– at the end of the interview, there is always an expectation to ask some questions.  When I’m preparing candidates for interview, it’s one of the things I’m asked most-“what questions should I ask”?  The one most people pedal is “Ask them why they work there”, or “Could you see me working here?”  Neither are necessarily bad, but I feel they are becoming a bit too common and bland, and the second one sometimes make interviewers awkward if they don’t actually see you working there.  I suggest asking them about the future of the organisation, but also identify some future challenges that they may have, and what are they doing to overcome it.  For example, in the Social Housing market, you could ask what they are doing regarding the digital agenda, or what are their long term plans after the 4th year of rent cuts- are they preparing for additional cuts etc?  This not only allows you to assess if they have a clear plan for the future (you should be interested in this for your own career) but it generates an interesting dialogue and may even create an opportunity for you to offer your thoughts and how you feel the market is unfolding.  It also shows that you are thinking about working for them in the mid to long term- another attractive trait!

So, I hope you find the above more useful than my Trump blog, and I’d be interested in your feedback on whether the above has worked for you in your next interview.  If I can ever help you prepare or practice for the above (if you work in Social Housing in the UK), feel free to contact me.


Barry Forsythe is Manager of Greenacre Midlands Division,  overseeing the Executive/Senior Level candidacy and vacancies across the East & West Midlands region. Barry has worked in recruitment for over 16 years and works alongside organisations to deliver advice, insights and experience to housing and associated industry professionals throughout the UK.

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