If you’re reading this, it means you’ve most likely secured an interview. First off, congratulations! Getting to this point in the application process is a huge step and deserves to be celebrated.
The big question now is: what next?
No doubt you’ve already looked up some commonly asked interview questions. While having a handful of good answers prepared ahead of time is helpful, what a lot of people forget is that there’s far more to an interview than a series of questions.
Here are five recruiter-approved tips to help prepare you for your upcoming interview.
1. Reread the job description
Of course, you’ve probably already read through the job listing at least once. Though chances are this wasn’t the only one you were applying for at the time, so it’s a good idea to refresh yourself a bit. If something was important enough to include in the job description, it will be important enough to ask you about in person.
Try to narrow your focus to the top five bullet points, especially if it’s a particularly long and detailed description. For each one, come up with concrete examples of how you have demonstrated that qualification in the past.
Try to frame your answer into an SBO (Situation>Behavior>Outcome) or STAR (Situation>Task>Action>Result) format so that the hiring manager can easily follow along. Be as specific as you can and use actual numbers if possible.
2. Do your research
You should never go into an interview without first learning everything you can about both the company and the individuals you’ll be meeting.
Know the company
- When researching the company, make sure you have a firm grasp on the specifics of their services/products offered, their target audience(s), and a brief overview of their company history. Don’t limit yourself to what’s on their website either. Glassdoor, the Better Business Bureau, and a Google search or two are your friends here.
- Be prepared to talk about what drew you to the company and why you’re excited to work there. Try to be as honest as possible here, unless the real reason was the perks, location, or pay. It’s also a big no-no to say it was because a recruiter called you. You may think this makes you seem noncommittal and therefore a catch, but trust us, it’s usually a major turnoff.
Know the interviewers
- When researching your interviewer(s), make sure you’re aware of their place in the company and its relation to your position, as well as their more recent professional history.
- In almost every single interview, there comes a time when you’re asked to turn the tables with some questions of your own. Don’t miss out on this opportunity! You can even take it a step further by writing specific questions for each person in the room. For instance, you should direct general questions to HR, company goals and outlook to senior executives, and day to day specifics and success metrics to the manager.
3. Review your own history
Your past experience and education were obviously enough to get you this far, but don’t think they won’t want any further clarification. You may think you already know everything there is to know about yourself, but it’s surprisingly easy to forget certain details when you’re put on the spot.
Unless this is your first job out of school, you’re not likely to be asked about your education, so there’s no need to dig up those old GPAs and valedictorian certificates. You will, however, want to brush up on your job history a bit.
Make sure you have answers prepared for why you left each position, as well as explanations for gaps in employment, if any. For each job, go over a list of all your responsibilities, as well as any accomplishments and awards you received so you’re not struggling to remember them in the moment.
You should also be prepared to talk about how you made a difference at each organization. Did you make/save the company money? Did you change/improve a particular process? Again, know your numbers and have those concrete SBO or STAR examples ready to go if you want to really shine.
4. Know your worth
In addition to knowing what you bring to the table, it’s important to have a good idea of what your market value is. While it’s easier for those who’ve held multiple jobs in a particular industry, even newer recruits should do a little research to see what the industry average is for their desired position.
Have a specific number in mind and don’t be afraid to ask for it. It’s also equally important to know the lowest offer you’d be willing to accept, should it come to that. While many hiring managers are reluctant to discuss specifics in the first interview, it pays to be prepared, just in case.
5. Ready your outfit and belongings ahead of time
Everybody knows it’s bad to be late to an interview. So, why not give yourself every advantage possible to be on time (or a bit early) by preparing all your things ahead of time?
Pick out the clothes you’re going to wear the night before (and stick with them). You’d be surprised how many job seekers are late because they went through a last-minute wardrobe change.
Speaking of attire, we recommend dressing to impress, unless they specifically say otherwise. Even if it’s only a phone interview, you will feel more alert and confident in business casual than you will in pajamas.
You should never arrive at an interview empty handed either, so be sure to bring a professional binder/bag with a copy (or two) of your resume, references, and questions to ask. It’s also wise to have a pen and paper handy for taking notes.
You’ve prepared yourself well. Now it’s time to impress.
Get plenty of rest, eat a good meal, and try not to worry—you got this! If you’ve followed these five strategies, then you’ve done all you can, and you’re sure to do great.
If you haven’t taken advantage of a professional recruitment service yet, now is a great time to do so. Landing a good interview is difficult, and a recruiter can help ensure you don’t have to go back to square one.
Working with a recruiter
You probably don’t interview every day—but recruiters do! They can offer you specific advice on what to wear, what to bring, and what to do to make the best first impression. A good recruiter, especially one that knows your industry well, can give you a big leg up by providing you with specific advice about what your particular interviewer wants to hear, which can’t always be found on the internet.
While they can’t possibly know everything about you, they do know the right questions to ask and can help determine what’s worth highlighting and what’s not. You will also have an experienced partner to help you dial in the perfect examples that are sure to please even the shrewdest of interviewers.
A recruiter will also cover any salary discussions upfront and share that information with the employer, so everyone is on the same page. And unless you’re significantly over or underpaid, they can often secure you a 10-15% pay increase (assuming you’re currently employed).
For over a decade, Curtis Food Recruiters has been matching food and beverage professionals with prominent, rewarding career opportunities. As a full-service executive search firm specializing in the food manufacturing and grocery retail industries, we are dedicated to helping job seekers find (and land) the perfect positions. Contact us today so we can do the same for you.