If you have ever read my previous thoughts about getting a job, you will realize that I try to practically break down the recruitment process for an average company, using my experience as a recruiter to make you understand how exactly you can go about creating success for yourself.
First, every recruitment begins with identifying a need or a gap to fill within an organization. So anytime you see any job advert, it means there is a gap within the company that needs to be filled. You need to understand that gap and specific information about the role.
That is where you have a need for the Job Description. To me, success at interviews begins and ends with the Job description. If you don’t know or have certain details about the job, it will affect your level of performance during interviews.
That’s why in my job as a recruiter, I always like to share the Job Description to candidates for any role I am recruiting for, even if they saw the Job description before applying, I still run it through with candidates before starting off the hiring process.
So deep dive, what are the key things you need to pay attention to in order to prepare yourself for success:
- Read the Job Description thoroughly. Even if you applied for the job before understanding certain elements of the job, you can ask for some minutes with a member of the recruitment team to run through some queries or questions you have about the job. Don’t get into an interview without understanding the job description, at least up to 95%.
Job Description must be detailed enough to provide candidates with enough information regarding the job and when you as a candidate don’t have enough information, try contacting a member of the recruitment team.
Please read the Job Description thoroughly and ask questions where you need clarity. Look at the Job title/Department, look at the Duties and tasks, look carefully at the Skills required and most times who the role reports to. Having robust information helps you prepare well for the interview. The job title and department will give you an understanding of the major purpose of the position and where the role fits into the organization, allowing you to discover who your potential line manager could be.
- Do a deep research about the company: I remember having a briefing for one of the roles I was recruiting for at my current organization and spent more than half an hour sharing details about the company and the role to the candidate to ensure he has a sense of what we do and why we are hiring for the role.
Only for the candidate to move to the main interview process with the hiring manager and appearing not to have a clue about the company and what we do.
In my chats with candidates as a recruiter, I totally understand that the candidate may not have a full picture of what we do at our company and so it is my responsibility to get the candidate up to speed about that. But much more than that, I expect that candidates do their own further study or research about the company.
Researching deeply into a company before an interview will give you an insight into the organization’s past achievements and future goals and plans and gives you an edge to create talk points that compels the hiring manager to see you as an investment. If you go to an interview not knowing what the company do, who their primary customers are and how they make money, you may not appear as someone they want.
Things you should look at? – Check the company’s website. Do they have one? How does it look? What details are they showing to the public. Doing a Google search will show you the state of the company and all content that has been written about them. Don’t be lazy to stick to the first few pages. Search further into the 10th, the 20th, and even the 50th page and see what it has to show you. Insight is key!
LinkedIn is also a good source of information. Maximize LinkedIn to learn more. Check profiles of their employees. Check the profile of the CEO or top leaders (Are they also on LinkedIn?), read the recommendations, etc.
A Bonus? Find out who their Competitors are: Find out who the main competitors are and look into the websites of the organizations within the same industry. Try to do some competitive analysis yourself to have talk points for your interviews. Know the various kind of products or service they offer:
Even if your role isn’t directly related to the company’s product or service, as long as you’re looking to be part of the team It’s important to learn all you can about the product or service the company produces and promotes. You don’t necessarily need to understand each and every detail, especially if it’s a technical product, and you’re interviewing for a non-technical position, but you should have a basic understanding of the main products or services the company offers.
I remember sharing with a lady during a coaching session to familiarize herself with various products within the industry and do a performance analysis of each product in her location and just have that insight as talk points. Going that length helps you build confidence.
- Prepare scenarios, examples and answers to common questions you’ll be asked.
At almost every interview, the first question is usually Tell me about yourself?
Preparing answers before hands helps you perform better. I know you won’t be able to predict every question you’ll be asked in an interview, but here are a few common questions you can plan answers for:
Why do you want to work with us? The best way to prepare for this kind of question is the reason I recommended earlier that you learn about the products, services, mission, history and culture of the company. So that in your answer you can highlight various aspects of the company that appeals to you and aligns with your career goals. It would also help you figure out what difference you want to make in the company from your research.
What are your strengths and weaknesses? You should highlight your personal qualities and be careful not to share all your weaknesses. Be professional about your answers.
- Do mock interviews. Do mock interviews. Do mock interviews.
I can’t stress this enough, because you know practice makes perfect is a popular quote. Have you ever seen a professional footballer playing entering a field of play without training, or warm up?
This shows how important practice is. It gets you in the zone of performance.
Interviews are like public speaking, the people who get nervous and feel anxious during interviews didn’t do enough practice that would help improve their confidence. Doing mock interviews repeatedly helps you reduce the tension that comes with the real interviews.
And it is simple: Talk to your recruiter friend like me or others in your network to run a mock interview for you. This person if honest, would share all feedback that would lead to your growth. Practice the common questions and answers. Mock interviews give you the opportunity to fail, refine your answers before the main interview.
The more you repeat your interview, the more confident you’ll be during the real thing.
- Sell yourself. I wrote a chapter on selling yourself in my free e-book, you may need to read it. I also did a podcast episode about selling yourself and your skills online and offline.
You must know how to sell yourself. Anytime you are invited for any interview, this means you are already 80-90% qualified for the job, we just need the interview to confirm certain details regarding your skills, knowledge and work experience.
So when you get to that interview panel, this is not the time to form humility with your achievements and history. Sell yourself like you are selling a product that your life depends on.
The truth is that you may have professional skills and experiences that may set you apart from other candidates, but if you don’t know how to sell it, the employer may not appreciate and acknowledge it.
When preparing for the interview, make a list of your skills that relate to the role you applied for and think of how your experiences and abilities can contribute to the overall goals of the company, keeping it simple.
Whatever accomplishments you have, don’t be too humble that you don’t share them at interviews. Share it, run your mouth, sell your skills. Your potential employer wants to know that you’ll be the right fit and that you can deliver something to the company, so they need to know all the reasons that you can provide that for them. Sell Yourself.
I know there could be more details but from me, those are the key five things that if you make your priorities can give you an edge towards success in an interview.
I hope this helps!