With more and more young people graduating from University and dropping into the graduate talent pool, it is more important than ever to ensure you are one step ahead of your peers. Making a strong first impression and being able to storm an interview is critical to securing the graduate role you have worked so hard for. Below, we’ve outlined 3 top tips which, if taken on board, really could set you apart from the other candidates being considered.
1) Demonstrate you know their business inside out
A relatively standard question that you may get asked in an interview is: ‘Why do you want to work for us?’ The interviewer is looking for two things in your answer, a) how much thought and active effort have you put into your career? and 2) how enthusiastic and committed are you to joining their company, rather than any of their competitors.
The easiest way to tackle this question is to regurgitate the facts and figures you have memorised from their website; company size, annual revenue, number of offices worldwide, number of employees etc.
You have taken a positive step here…some candidates don’t even bother visiting the company website. However the employer knows their annual revenue and the number of employees they have; and they probably get told it 10 times over by candidates during interviews! And is it really the fact they have 56 employees that makes you want to work for them and become the 57th? I thought not. We need to look a little deeper to find things that will really excite them. Here are a few things to look out for during your research:
- Achievements in the last 3 years – have they been shortlisted for or won any awards? Are there any awards that you believe they could win and you want to help them get there?
- Their competitors – why is it that you want to join this company and contribute to their success over any others in the sector?
- Information/news articles relating to the company’s growth, acquisitions, mergers, plans for innovation, CSR involvement, events they attended etc.
- Challenges specific to their industry – do you know how they overcome them? Perhaps this could make a good question for them.
Regional business news sites will almost definitely have some news articles archived relating to the company in question. And don’t forget to check their social media channels! This is often where successes are celebrated and interesting news articles are shared.
With this information at your fingertips, you can create a much more convincing and inspiring answer.
2) Make the link between what you do and what they do
This again involves having a deep understanding of their business. What products/services do they focus on? Are they a high volume, low margin business or a low volume high margin business? How does this affect their sales and marketing strategies? Their finance processes and procedures? What’s the company structure? How does this impact their HR strategies, policies and procedures? What’s their vision? What are their business goals? Where does your role fit into all of this?
You may not know the nitty-gritty of all of these questions, but you are likely to find top line information through your research.
Once you know everything about them, start to think about your experience and skills and try to match them to what they do and what they want to accomplish. Questions such as “Tell me about your role at Company X” or “What was your greatest achievement in that role?” can suddenly be tailored to the company you are interviewing for.
Reeling off facts such as “I exceeded my target six months in a row at Company X” is okay, but to really impress, think about how you would apply this skill and experience in this role. Perhaps you have discovered that they have ambitious growth plans and you know you have the drive to help them get there. Perhaps you have read that they are expanding across Europe and you have previous experience in dealing with contacts overseas. Position this correctly and the employer will be overwhelmed at your ability to apply past experiences to your (potential) future role.
3) Ask considered questions when asked, ‘Do you have any questions?’
Companies only want to hire people who are serious about working for them. If you fail to ask questions at the end, you are giving the impression you don’t care about working for them. You just want a job and a salary.
Asking questions during an interview enables you to do two things, a) show the employer you are serious about working for them and are genuinely interested in what they do and why they do it, b) make sure this employer really is the right fit for you. What is important to you? What do you value? Progression? Money? Innovation? Recognition? Stability? Change? The list goes on. Then ask yourself, can this company deliver on these things? If you’re not sure, now is the time to ask! Here’s an example to help you out.
Let’s assume innovation, recognition and development are deeply held values of yours. You may want to ask:
- Your main competitor has just announced they will be releasing a new product this year. How do you plan to stay ahead of your competitors in the foreseeable future?
- What new projects do you have in the pipeline?
- How do you recognise achievement in the business?
- What is your vision for the successful candidate in this role? How do you see their career developing within your organisation?
A couple of other useful questions to have up your sleeve include?
- What have been your biggest challenges over the past year? How have you overcome these obstacles?
- What do you enjoy most about working here? (Do their expressions show a genuine excitement of working there?)
So what do these ‘extra’ factors we have suggested you include show? They demonstrate that you fully understand their business and how your role will fit into the company and that you are serious about your career.
Take it from us, this level of engagement in an interview will impress any employer! Give it a go and see the impact you make. Good luck!
Adapted from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/3-ways-impress-any-interviewer-nlp-career-coach-and-life-coach