Katy Aston is part of the Senior Accountancy & Finance recruitment team at Alexander LLoyd placing outstanding candidates for a wide range of clients within the South East.
It’s all in the preparation
It doesn’t matter what level of seniority you achieve or how many interviews you've attended; the process is always a daunting one. Much like an athlete competing in the Olympic 100m final, you must be in top form as you get one chance to beat the competition and be first past the post.
Your preparation therefore is your training regime; no sprinter would turn up for a big race without prior preparation. Whilst it's true that the further you progress along your career pathway, the more experienced you become at interviews, more is expected of you and proper preparation therefore, is vital to maximise your chances of coming in first.
Do your research
Every interview requires that you research the potential employer, and I highly recommend that you don’t leave your research to the last minute. Whilst it needs to be fresh in your mind, a rushed last minute skim will leave you feeling tense and under prepared.
What information do you need to know?
Talk to your consultant
Your consultant will want to brief you on the role; I can’t stress enough how vital it is that you take the time to discuss it with them. They hold information on the role that simply isn’t available in the public domain and will really aid you in the long run. They should be briefing you on the structure of the team, reporting channels, company growth plans, company culture and how the role came about. Really take advantage of their knowledge of the company and what they are looking for in this hire to give you an edge.
A good consultant will then follow up with you via email with links to the company website and any other relevant information they feel would aid you in your preparation. However, don’t rely solely on what they can provide; try to be proactive and use the tools that are so readily available.
Information in the public domain
You are looking for a variety of information that lies within the public domain; first stop, the company’s website. What products or services do they deal with and where do they operate? Is the company focused on the UK market, does it have a European or global scope?
You also need to find out about the financials as far as is possible. Take note of losses, areas of growth and trends in order to glean information on which you can base your questions for the interviewer. Alongside this, ensure that you research the market and the company’s main competitors.
An area that is often overlooked is the news. What has been publicised about the company in recent months, both positive and negative? Many publish press releases that might not quite reach the heights of the BBC, but industry news may publish them, and this can be a valuable source of information.
Make sure you review the job description provided by the consultant and ensure that you brush up on any technical areas as necessary, along with any industry regulations that are relevant.
Your goal during the interview is to present a professional image whilst discussing your achievements, skills, expertise, knowledge and showcasing your personality. It’s a tall order, and being able to discuss your CV fluently without having to refer to the document will aid you enormously. Do take a copy with you just in case you do have a blank moment and need to refer to it, don’t ask to look at the interviewer’s.
Prepare your questions
You will of course be aiming to ask questions at the end of the interview, and the company research you have carried out and your conversation with your consultant will give you the grounding on which to base these and showcase your acumen.
Aim for at least four or five written down, just in case the interview covers one or two during your conversation. I do recommend that you try to maintain a positive rather than negative line of questioning, and don’t be reticent in drawing out your interviewer. A positive question looking at a recent area of growth and what the company’s projected plans are for the coming year for example, or alternatively how they have overcome challenges in the past.
With your research done, questions practiced and a good grasp of the company, you should be now ready and raring to go; waiting to step out on to the track, hearing the roar of the crowd... take a deep breath and you’re on.
This is the first in a series of articles by Alexander Lloyd charting the interview process, packed with useful advice and tips for a successful outcome. Coming soon... First Impressions Count.
© Alexander Lloyd 2012.
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