(Left to right: Steve Gray & Fallon Petford)
Sometimes, job interviews just go wrong. Candidates don’t perform well on the day, or employer and job-hunter aren’t a good fit.
But you can maximise your chances of success by preparing well and learning from what has worked – and not worked.
What Can Go Wrong with An Interview?
The success of an interview can be determined long before it starts – in the preparation.
Fallon Petford, Commercial Recruitment Consultant at TeamJobs, always briefs candidates thoroughly.
"I won’t let them go in unless they’ve had a briefing from me, but you can tell when they’re listening and whether they’re going to take it seriously,” she says.
“There are people who think they can wing it because they think they have extensive experience. Why would the client not take them because they’re fantastic, right? And then they are not sure who the client is and what they’re looking for from a new team member.”
The Whole Time & Research Element
Not allowing time for the process is another mistake.
"A lot of people want to look for a job, but they don’t have time to look. We’ll call them, and they’ll say, 'That’s absolutely fantastic’, but their own job at the moment is taking absolute priority. I had somebody this happened to recently. He did not have the time to prepare, he went in and was just prepared to his best capability.”
Not showing that you have researched the job, or the employer is another mistake, highlights TeamJobs’ Technical and Recruitment Partner Steve Gray.
"You can provide the candidate the brief in detail, you can go over everything, you can send the link to the website for the company – but the most frustrating thing is when they go in to the client and say, ‘I’m not too sure what you do?’.
"If the candidates are not representing themselves in the best light, then they’re not representing us in the best light, because we are saying to the client ‘This is one of the best candidates for your role’."
Not showing enough passion for the role is the mistake Steve has seen committed most often. “Candidates may have two or three interviews lined up but if you’re not passionate about that company or that role, why are you even interviewing?”
Not Everyone Is the Same
Candidates assume that all recruitment agencies are the same, and that you should have as little to do with them as possible, is another huge mistake.
“There are some agencies that do not do briefings and do not really spend too much time with the candidates. I genuinely enjoy building relationships with candidates,” says Fallon.
"I do a lot of briefings during the evenings. I do it because I want candidates to be fully prepped.”
Steve adds: “Sometimes a candidate won’t be 100 per cent honest with the consultant but they’ll be 100 per cent honest with the client and there are things that probably we should have known beforehand and addressed.
“There will always be a few candidates who see us as only putting them through the door and nothing more and they can deal directly with the client thereafter. They perhaps don’t realise that we are close to that client, so we can advise accordingly and really help them.”
Disasters are the exception. “Nine times out of ten, when people don’t get a role, it’s down to a slight of lack experience in what they were looking for,” says Fallon. “So most of the time, I don’t get a lot of feedback that it was a terrible interview. They’ve actually done a good interview but unfortunately they were up against somebody who ticked all the boxes.”
How Can You Make Sure an Interview Is Successful?
Fallon’s top interview advice might seem obvious: Know your own CV.
"You’ll be surprised how many people do not know their own CV,” she says.
“Go through your whole CV from start to finish and make sure you know what you did in that role, your key responsibilities, why you moved on, to show a clear career path.
“Do your research and qualify your answers, so try to think of examples.
“So, if it’s a manager role, think of examples where you’ve had to discipline somebody, when you’ve had to put somebody on a performance development plan and that’s been a success. Give key examples of how it’s worked.
“It’s about qualifying your answers with examples, knowing your financials, so you can say ‘Last year, I exceeded target by 10 per cent, I grew my account by X amount’.”
Fallon and Steve both like to brief their candidates fully. “There’s a final call to make sure they’re all set, know where they’re going and any final questions. You’re just checking off the list in that conversation,” says Steve.
It is possible to be fully prepared even if the interview is arranged at short notice, says Fallon.
“Unless there is something specific you have to put together, like a presentation, you can prep in one day if you’re confident enough,” she says.
She suggests going over the research, looking at the company’s website and LinkedIn page – and searching in Google News for recent stories about the employer.
"Go through your own CV and match the job description I’ve sent you and look at where your experience lies at each bullet point – and think of some key examples where you can bring to the table your skill set. And if there are certain areas you don’t have experience in, think about where your transferable skills will lie.
"And the biggest advice I’ll give them: Be yourself, don’t put on a façade, be who you are. Be honest about where your experience is and where it isn’t, because if they want you at least they know all of what they’re getting.”
If you have a trusted consultant on your side, you can have the confidence that comes from being well prepared.