We’ve all been there — the sweaty palms, the nervous energy, the excruciating glances, worrying whether you stand out while fighting off bouts of nausea. Yes, LKF on a Friday night can be traumatising! But even that is nothing compared to a really tough interview – whether it’s for your dream job or getting your kid into a good pre-school, there’s an art to nailing the dreaded sit down. No one knows this better than Alex Beattie, director of local recruitment agency Sara Beattie Appointments, and he’s on hand to give you six handy tips on giving yourself an edge.
You’ve applied for that dream job and after twenty applications, someone has finally contacted you. “Yes! We want to interview you!” What do you do? How do you prepare? Alex Beattie, Director of Hong Kong’s pioneering recruitment agency, Sara Beattie Appointments, shares his ultimate tips to prepare you for your interview and to help relieve some of the stress.
1. Be prepared
Conduct research ahead of time to ensure you are fully prepared before going to meet with the interviewer. If you are using a recruitment consultancy, some of the information below should come from them, but if you are uncertain it is always safer to ask your recruiter more questions. Ask, ask, ask!
- The interviewer – Find out who will be interviewing you and see what you can find out about them either through LinkedIn, other social networks, or just generally online. Looking for commonalities will help create a stronger connection during the interview, thus leaving a longer lasting impression.
- The company background – How long have they been operating? Who are the owners? Have they always specialised in this field? What makes this company so unique? Why are they special?
- Industry – Who are their main competitors? Any legislative changes that will make an impact to business operations?
- Website – Have you viewed all the pages on their website?
- Trends – Are there any new trends emerging that you can use as talking points during your interview? Stimulating a relevant discussion with the interviewer will show your interest and prior preparation. Remember to be diplomatic about any suggestions you make so that any suggestions do not sound like criticisms.
- News – Has the company been in any public appearances lately? Have they been positive or negative?
2. Dress professionally
It is important to maintain a professional image when arriving at your interview. Research the companies culture and try to figure out what kind of style would be most suitable. Are they casual, semi-formal, or formal? Make sure that what you wear is appropriate, but makes you stand out in your ‘killer’ outfit – no, that doesn’t mean wearing bright red trainers when their whole team are donning suits!
3. Arrive early
Give yourself time to get oriented with the building and surrounding areas. Prepare for the event that the building has three elevators and an ID check in at reception. Also, take into account that you may take the wrong transportation, miss your stop, or even go to the wrong building. If you find yourself in the lobby with plenty of time, then use that time to relax yourself and chill out for a while. Do not go up to the office until 10 minutes ahead of your scheduled appointment time.
4. Body language
Body language affects how others see us so smile and be positive, have a strong and confident posture, but also relax to a point where you do not seem too tense or nervous. Make sure to maintain eye contact when making a point or when listening to important questions, and sit forward subtly. Be sure to limit your hand gestures and ensure that you speak clearly, and do not talk too much.
5. Talking points and questions
Think before answering and elaborate where possible – even during the hard questions – maintaining a positive outlook. This will create a better overall evaluation of the interview as the interviewer will remember you in a positive light. Often repeating the interviewer’s questions will give you added time to think of a suitable answer. Prepare at least three questions to ask your interviewer – this shows that you are an active participant and that you are enthusiastic about the job. Do not talk about working hours and employee benefits (insurance, annual leave etc) at the first interview stage as these can be negotiated further down the process. Discussing salary is appropriate when you feel the conversation is leading that way or towards the end of the interview.
6. Follow up
Show your passion and interest by keeping yourself in the interviewer’s mind. It is rare that candidates will follow up after an interview so a simple phone call or email can ensure that you are a candidate that is a cut above the rest, showing your professionalism and interest in the position and company.
An email of thanks should always be forwarded at the completion of your interview within two to three days. Prepare a concise and polite email thanking the interviewer for their time and reiterating your interest in the position or to move forward in the interview process. If you have not heard anything after five working days following your interview, a polite phone call to your HR contact or interviewer is appropriate to the point of one or two calls. If you are unable to reach your desired destination, an email follow up is fine.
Now go get ’em tiger!