Interview preparation

Last week I covered how I prepare job applications.  Hopefully doing this will result in an invitation to interview.  This week I am going to talk about how I prepare for interviews to ensure that I make the best possible impression.  There are lots of resources on the internet about interviews, but this is what I do.  I confess I find interviews very nerve-racking so for me the key is lots of preparation to help me feel prepared and confident on the day.

I start by re-familiarising myself with what I said in my application and the pre work I did before I compiled the final application.  This ensures I have plenty of additional examples of things I have achieved in previous roles or voluntary roles, so I can choose the most relevant one for each question I am asked.  If the interview is going to be a competency based one this is particularly important.  With these types of interview questions will typically start with phrases like “Can you think of an example of how/when……” so I ensure I have a good stock of examples in my mind.

I research the organisation and the sector they operate in thoroughly and learn key facts.  It may seem obvious, but if I have applied for a governance role I ensure I know who the chair, board directors and senior managers are and understand how the organisation is governed if this information is in the public domain.  If I have been told who will be interviewing me, I research them too.   This gives me background information which I may not refer to directly, but will help ensure my answers are relevant.  If I do directly refer to the information I have learned, it demonstrates that I have initiative and am keen to work for the organisation.

I also refer to LinkedIn to see if I know anyone who works in the organisation or in the same sector.  If I have a relevant connection I ask them if they would mind having a chat with me.  They will have invaluable knowledge about the organisation, the sector, the challenges, the strategic direction etc, all useful background information to help me make a positive impression.

There are lots of really good resources on the internet about typical interview questions and how to answer them and I use these to think about how I would answer all sorts of different questions.  I do this because when I am nervous I sometimes find it challenging to think of good answers on the spur of the moment.

I was once totally floored by one question I was asked at the end of an interview.  I think I had managed to answer most of the questions I had been asked well, but stumbled on a question about what my friends would say about me if the interviewer met them in the pub!  I was taken by surprise by the “outside of work” nature of the question and had concentrated my preparation too much on likely questions about the role, my experience and technical questions. We could have a debate about whether that is a legitimate question to ask for a governance related role, but they asked it and I needed to be able to answer it.  Whilst my stumbling response to this question may not have been the reason I did not get the job, it certainly taught me about the need to consider in advance all sorts of different questions.

At the moment it is likely that interviews will be virtual which requires a particular type of preparation.  This topic is covered well here:

If there are other elements to the recruitment process such as presentations or tests I prepare for these too and practise any presentations I am required to make.

Next week I will talk about how I approach interviews on the day.

This is what works for me, what works for you?

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