Interviews are notoriously nerve-racking.
It’s incredibly stressful preparing endless answers to all manner of possible questions in our minds, and worrying about what we’re going to be judged on. So how do we prepare for a successful interview? The last thing you need is to turn up burnt-out. The following will help you to arrive calm, collected and as the best version of yourself.
What does your social media say about you?
Chances are as a professional you’ve thought about this already, but there are still many of us who have been tagged in a less than flattering situation, gone off on a rant, or posted something inappropriate that seemed like a good idea at the time.
First impressions count, and these days they are online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for starters.
Trawl through your public profiles and look for anything which may throw up a red flag for your potential employer. Be prepared to be able to answer any questions which may arise from what it says about you online, and delete (or make private) anything which could misconstrued or have negative connotations. You are turning up to this interview as a professional, so make sure that you are reflected as such when you’re Googled.
What does it say about your employer online? About their business? Do your research too – you might find something interesting which you could ask about; do they do work for charitable causes? What are the customer reviews like? Does what you see online make you want to work there?
Your interviewer is feeling what you are feeling too
Potential employers, particularly those in small business, entrepreneurs or start-ups are just as nervous as you are.
Look at it this way – they have got to the point in their business where they need to expand their team. If they started small and you’re one of their first hires then they are at a point where they are sharing their baby and they want a safe and secure pair of hands and someone who is willing to drive their business forwards. Someone who shares their passion. If you demonstrate that you are the person for this – if you are enthusiastic about their vision, and about the direction the company is headed, then they will feel that you are the one to join their team.
They know that you probably have more than one interview lined up and that how well they interview you, and the experience they give you in this interview, is just as important to you as your performance is to them. At least, it should be – and if they don’t have the attitude where they want to impress you, then is this the right company for you? You’re sought after!
An interview is as much about the business as it is about you. This is your chance to ask some questions, to satisfy your curiosity. Curiosity is one of the most encouraging qualities to display during an interview; it shows the need to learn, the ability to see missing links or a clearer path and most importantly – drive.
What do they really want from you?
A good company will have a clear-cut interview process. They will have a structure, and a list of what they’re looking for, what they want to find out. Modern business are hiring less and less according to your CV, and now approach interviews with the wish to have someone who’s values are aligned with the business.
Research their business values, these will often shine through on their website. Do these values resonate with yours? If so then you will feel genuinely at home when you go for your interview. If the feel of the company doesn’t sit with you then you’ll feel dissonance and your relationship just won’t work.
Employers are looking for the following:
- Do you share the business values and are you enthused by their vision?
- Have you shown elsewhere that you have the skills they need?
- Are you comfortable working alone, but happiest working as part of a team?
- Are you customer focused?
- Are you passionate, energetic and creative?
Remember, you can be trained for skill, but it is oh so hard to train attitude and the will to succeed, that loyalty to a business. Demonstrate that you have this, and that you’re willing to learn where there are any gaps in your skillset.
If you start with a group interview it’s important to realise that they’re not looking for the loudest voice. They’re looking for someone who conducts themselves well in a meeting environment, who listens to others and engages with the discussion without speaking over anyone. They’re looking for someone who perhaps encourages the underdog, or ensures everyone has had the chance to speak.
Be the best version of yourself, and make sure that you are you and not a fake interview version of you (we’ve all done it!) and your personality and passion will shine through. If you want this job, go for it!
About the author
Marianne Page is the creator of Systems4Scale and author of the bestselling book, Simple Logical Repeatable. She has 27 years of senior management experience with McDonald’s under her belt, and a further ten working with successful small business owners, helping them to scale, grow and occasionally sell their business.