I’ve been interviewing a lot of people lately: not only because I’ve had numerous roles to fill for a few different clients, but also because I’ve been getting large volumes of applications to advertised vacancies. Which in and of itself isn’t too surprising, as April/ May is actually one of the peak activity periods during a year where people tend to decide they might like to consider a change in their career (it’s post the fun-loving-don’t-care-about-the-world-summer and the start of oh-crap-its-freezing-I-think-I-hate-my-job-winter). The seasons are changing, it’s getting colder, and it’s not only making it harder for us to get out bed to go to work, but it’s becoming damn near impossible to throw back our warm doonas and get going for a job we don’t particularly like. So if more of us are becoming tempted by other opportunities, it stands to reason that there’s going to be a bit more competition out there for vacant roles. To me that suggests I would have to ‘up-my-A-game’ to really stand out, but I continue to be surprised at the lack of preparedness some candidates bring to interview.
Just as you might anticipate a surgeon would have read your patient files prior to operating on you, employers expect you to have done your fair share of preparation before attending interview with them. Aside from looking professional, it illustrates your keenness for their business. I would suggest this preparation to include:
1. Reviewing their website to get a feel for their core business, values and tone of voice;
2. Giving them a quick ‘Google’ for any news articles about them that have been in the media recently so you’re up with the times; and
3. Maybe also a quick LinkedIn stalk to get to know who’s who.
And should a prospective employer happen to also invite you to bring certain materials along to interview (such as a grid of images that you feel speak to their brand, or a hypothetical 5-point plan to increase sales figures, or a mood board for a new design space), you should really take this invitation as more of a prerequisite than a suggestion, and enthusiastically front up with the goods.
If you can’t convincingly answer what you know about the company and why you want to work for the business, demonstrating that you’ve done your homework, well my friend, you’re going to flail. And if you haven’t prepared materials suggested to you purely because you didn’t think you needed to or couldn’t be bothered to, well then that I would call a big interview fail.