I previously looked at how you can get your CV to stand out from the crowd and get the relevant experience to get your foot in the door. So now you’ve got that experience on your CV, you’ve applied and been invited for an interview!
Firstly, well done! Here's some advice to help you through the next steps.
You need to split the interview process into two sections, 'preparation' and 'the interview'.
Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail, as the mantra goes. You may have been able to blag the odd presentation at uni, but not preparing effectively for your interview and not only are you wasting the time of your prospective employer., but also your own. At the end of the day, it’s an interview for your first job in the industry.
You’re not expected to be an expert but there are a couple of key factors to make sure you cover in the preparation phase:
- The Business
Do your homework on the business and make sure you have an understanding of who they are, what services they offer, clients that they may have. Your first port of call should be their website for this information. Also, run a brand search on Google - have they been in the news recently?
- The Role
When you applied for the job there should have been a job specification. This should give you an understanding of what the responsibilities of the role and the skills required for the role. Do you tick all the boxes from a skill set point of view? If so, how can you demonstrate this? Have you carried out the responsibilities of the role before? Again collate the evidence for this and practice how you’ll relay this clearly in the interview. Expect the standard questions, like 'why are you the right person for the role?' and have concise, strong answers ready.
- The Industry
The search marketing industry for example is a very fast moving industry. For the interview, do your research into the industry in which you’re applying for the role in. Have there been any big news stories recently? For example in the search industry, has there been an algorithm update recently? What was it? Could you provide an overview of the update and why you think it has happened?
If you’ve done all the preparation thoroughly, then the interview should be easy part.
- Dress the part
First impressions always count. You’re going to an interview, not a night out or a day at uni. If you're unsure on what to wear, always play it safe and dress smart.
- Arrive in a timely fashion
While arriving early for an interview shows that you are punctual, arriving too early can be too over eager. It's a good call to arrive ten minutes before the interview is due to start, this will allow you enough time to settle and collect your thoughts but won’t make the interviewer feel like they are on your time. Most definitely don’t be late. Plan your route and the time it will take (not forgetting to allow for traffic!) and in case of emergency have a number to contact the interviewer on.
- Be calm
Answer each question, one by one. Everyone gets interview nerves, stay calm, gather your thoughts and then answer the question. Trust in your preparation and you should have all the knowledge you require to answer the questions. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer, you’re not expected to be the finished article.
The interviewer should be looking for someone who has the relevant skill set and can demonstrate this, fits the values of the business and most importantly is keen to learn and develop their career.
All you can ask of yourself is that you give it your best. If it’s a no this time, use the experience and look at how you would modify your performance next time. All being well and you get the job.
It's not the end of the process there though, it’s now time to deliver. If you’re looking for advice on how to make an impact, check out the post by Account Director Steve Baker; it’s focused on the Account Executive role but the advice can apply to all roles.