Recruiters don’t just want to know about your skills and experience, they want to get a sense of your personality and how you will fit into the business. We’ve put together some advice to make sure you’re ready for each interview stage.
Getting ready for your interview
It's important that you’re prepared for any questions they throw your way. There are a few things you can do before your interview to make sure you feel as confident:
- Research the company. Research their current and recent projects, read their company website, follow them on LinkedIn and look them up in the trade press too
- Go over your application. If you’ve been sending out application after application, it can be hard to remember exactly what you put in each one. Rereading your covering letter and the job advert will remind you what they are looking for and what you have said you can offer
- Prepare your answers and questions. Think about what you’ve been asked in previous interviews and practise your answers. Interviews are a chance for you to ask questions too, so have these read
- Bring notes with you. Interviews are your chance to put your skills and experience across. Make notes on the key points so you can talk confidently and clearly.
Making a good impression
Interviewers are looking to see if you’d be a good ‘fit’ for the company. Making a genuine connection can be tricky, but here are a few things you can keep in mind:
- Be genuine. Even though interviews are formal situations, try to stay as relaxed as possible so your personality shines through
- Think about body language. Whether we like it not, judgments are made about us by the way we look in the first few seconds. Even before you speak, your interviewer will be absorbing non-verbal clues about you. You will be judged by what you wear, how you stand, how you shake hands, how you smile, and how you sit. Again, be genuine
- Try to build rapport – whether it’s asking questions about the company, the interviewer's role or even chatting about a favourite football team, try to make a connection
- Match and mirror. This is when you deliberately take on someone else’s style of behaviour in order to create rapport. If done well, this can be a very powerful technique. If the other person becomes aware of what you’re doing, it can backfire and make them uncomfortable. Keep it subtle and don’t mirror them exactly. If they are sitting with arms folded across their chest, you may have yours crossed on your lap. Take time to practise these techniques in advance until you can use them easily without thinking.
Show off your competencies
At least one of the interviews you go to will focus on your surveying knowledge and competencies. It can be tempting to talk about as many projects as possible, but it’s the quality of the response rather than the quantity that's key.
Using the STAR technique can help you to structure a clear and confident response to questions about your competencies:
- Situation. Set the context of the situation you’re explaining. For example, if they ask: ‘tell me about a time when you had to deal with a complaint’, talk about what had happened leading up to the event
- Task. Explain the problem you faced and what you had to do to solve it. Be specific about the challenges you faced and how you were proactive in addressing them. Did you go outside of your normal duties to help out or were you chosen to solve it for a specific reason? These details will give credibility to your answer
- Action. Explain the actions you took to solve the problem, then elaborate on the reasons you took the actions and the processes that led to the final result. Examples where you went outside of your job scope or had to rely on your initiative to solve something, are perfect answers for these questions
- Result. Talking about the outcome for the client, even if it wasn’t that one you had expected is important for your interviewer to understand. What did you learn from solving this problem and how did this impact on the client? Using facts and figures where possible shows that you have reflected and understood the project thoroughly.
Be ready to be tested
At the latter stages of an interview process, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to take some form of psychometric testing. Tests will help employers understand a little more about your personality and ability to fit into the role on offer.
Some personal characteristics, such as team-working skills, reasoning ability and personal empathy, are difficult to assess at interview and testing can be a more reliable indicator.
Importantly, psychometric tests can also minimise recruitment bias on the basis of gender, race and disability, and can also allow the interview to be tailored for the individual. In short, these tests can make the recruitment process fairer for the employer and the applicant.
Here are some examples of the tests that you may be asked to complete:
- Numerical and verbal tests. These are designed to assess how quickly you understand numbers and how you respond to written texts. There are lots of tests you can take online
- Logical reasoning tests. These quizzes look at your ability to spot patterns and the processes you use to do so. These may involve reading passages of text that you don’t understand and extracting the main points
- Personality and motivation. These tests try to give an overview of your personality type and work style. They test things such as attitudes and behaviours in certain situations and whether your characteristics would be right for a role. All you can do to prepare for these tasks is be yourself! It won’t benefit you to second guess the answers, so just put what you honestly think.