So your wonderful CV landed you an interview at your dream job, now what? Interviews can be such a scary process. Aside from building a genuine rapport with the interviewer, it’s vital that you sell your key skills and really demonstrate why you’re perfect for the role. It’s a daunting task to execute in a one hour slot. Fear not, I’ve put together a helpful how-to that will allow you to dazzle any interviewer. So grab a notebook and pen and let’s dive in.
Highlight key skills within the job description
Read and re-read the job description given by the company, highlighting the keywords, then research around the role generally. This will give you a well-rounded understanding of what the role requires. Use this knowledge of the role to shape your interview answers, linking each required skill to your own experiences.
Try to find out more about the company culture and industry in general to help you identify soft skills you may need in the role specifically. These skills may not be explicit in the job description but using your research you can demonstrate that you are fully aware of the realities of the job.
Read around your industry
Interviewers want to know that you are invested and engaged, after all, passionate employees are more often productive. Spend time reading industry news, as well as current affairs and research topical issues which may affect the company you’re interviewing for.
Before your interview you can list out key issues from your research and what impact they may have on the company or industry as a whole. Then, try to weave this knowledge into your interview answers where you can.
Don’t just state the facts of a topical issue and its potential impact on the business, formulate your own opinion and use your research to back up that opinion. Also don’t just read up on obvious, headline news but seek out more niche news that’s relevant to your industry – this will offer you a strong point of difference and show that you are truly engaged.
Prepare a SWOT Analysis
Some companies may formally ask you to prepare a SWOT analysis and present it to them. Even if they don’t, preparing one will help to organise your thoughts, allowing you to talk about the company with confidence and ease.
A good starting point is to think about strengths and weaknesses from both the business perspective as well as a customer or client perspective. Then highlight any opportunities that may be available to the company, such as ways in which the company can act to improve their weaknesses or capitalise on their strengths. Next outline any threats to the company which can range from external threats, like political and economical events, to market threats, like a rival company offering similar products or services.
Avoid being too general in your SWOT analysis. Try to make each point specific to the company and also to the particular role your interviewing for. For example, if you’re applying for a Buying and Merchandising role, the majority of your points should relate to factors that would concern the Buying and Merchandising team.
During an interview, your goal is to persuade the interviewer that you’re the right person for the job. Think of your CV as the trailer and the interview as the feature-length film; good films need a good storyline.
Practice expanding on your skills (aloud) by trying to create a clear, cohesive and persuasive story-line around each bullet point on your CV. A good format is to start with a value statement to clearly state your point. Then, briefly elaborate, perhaps with an example or anecdote. Finally conclude with the same value statement you made before, to really solidify your point.
Remember that an interview is just a company’s way of getting to know you. They aren’t (usually) trying to trick you or looking for a reason to reject your application. However, don’t trip yourself up by being underprepared. Hopefully, by implementing some of the above tips you can smash your next interview and bag that dream job!
Words by Martha Ngatchu