1) Practice delivering your CV. In my experience of organising thousands of interviews, the interviewer often asks the interviewee to give an overview of their CV. If you’re an executive with over 25+ years experience and have worked in ten – fifteen separate roles, you do not want to be talking about every single role as you will bore the pants of the interviewer. This overview is effectively a presentation on you!
Therefore, you need to rehearse this pitch and hit the interviewer with concise, punchy information that includes tangible evidence, facts and figures as well key achievements that relate to the job you have applied for. Keep this overview to within 10 minutes. I once remember an MD talking for an hour through his CV for an interview that was an hour long. Needless to say he didn’t get the job.
2) Understand the interview format. Most interview questions have an element of competency about them. Therefore, most of the time you can prepare for them as the requirements are in the person and job spec. I always advise candidates to use the STAR methodology. i.e. giving a response that includes the situation you were in, the task, the action you took and the result.
3) Be concise. Every senior role that I recruit for requires people that are strong, concise communicators. Wafflers do not go down well. Know when to stop talking (this relates to answering interview questions and talking through your CV).
4) Look at your CV from a point of weakness. It is important that you can explain gaps or any roles that may have resulted in backward trajectory. Many executives I speak that have had 20 to 30-year careers have had a blip on their CV and it is important that this is a communicated in a positive way and how you have come back or learnt from those challenges.
In relation to lacking some of the desired skills or knowledge, it is rare that someone ticks all the requirements of a position, but you will need to think about how you can evidence your ability to learn any new skills to fulfil the role.
5) Do your due diligence on the company and the interviewers. This is as much about being informed for the interview as well as whether you want to join the company. I was recently approached by a candidate who has joined a new company and discovered they are on the verge of administration. Make sure you know what you are letting yourself in for (good and bad).
6) Demonstrate enthusiasm throughout the interview. I have had senior candidates who have been headhunted for a role look disinterested because they were approached for the role. When they realised it was a good opportunity, they got more interested, but the company was put off by their arrogance. Interviewers are passionate about their business and they are looking for people that share that passion. Give yourself the opportunity of turning the role down if it is not the right fit.
7) Always ask questions at the end of the interview. Asking questions demonstrates interest in the company. If you don’t ask any, the interviewer will be inclined to think you are not interested. Some of your questions will be answered during the process and there is nothing worse than having nothing to say at the end. I recommend having ten pre-prepared questions (but don’t ask them all and remember to check their availability for time).
8) How to handle the ‘what are your remuneration expectations?’ You don’t want to sell yourself short and you don’t want to go in too high and put them off. If asked, make sure you list your full benefits as this will influence the salary. I recommend saying something like ‘Obviously the package is important to me. My main motivations are X, Y and Z and I am sure if you think I am the right person for the job, you will offer me the right package’. This allows you to side-line the question, which is often uncomfortable to answer and allows the prospective employer to make you the offer which you can then negotiate if required. If forced for an answer, have a realistic figure in your head as well as a ‘bottom line’ figure where you will walk away if not offered.
9) Uncover any concerns the interviewer(s) might have. Quite often, an interviewer may be inexperienced, time poor and may have not prepared for the interview. This can result in the interviewer forgetting to ask you questions pertinent to the job and you might miss out on the role through no fault of your own. Therefore, I always recommend asking at the end of the interview ‘is there anything you need me to evidence more of in relation to my ability to do this job?’. This gives you one last chance to uncover any nagging doubts they have about you.
10) Close the interview with a positive statement. Very few people say they want the job at the end of the interview. Some candidates believe this may make them come across as desperate. I don’t. I believe it sends a positive buying signal to the interviewer and it can be the difference between you and another candidate who doesn’t close – particularly if you are a Sales Director!
Remember, interviews are a two-way process and they are as much about the interviewee as the interviewer. I always think that a candidate’s gut feel says a lot about whether the role is right or not. Does your immediate instinct make you want to jump with excitement or does it not quite feel right? Listen to what your gut tells you!
Lee De Souza is the Managing Director of Harrison Bridge, an executive talent partner that helps companies connects talent and strategy. Contact Lee De Souza at: firstname.lastname@example.org 0121 2894293