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Nailing that final interview!

By Simon on

First & second interviews can vary.  Normally, the first is to gauge your personality & is mostly about your ability to do the job, so questions may focus more on your career & key responsibilities of your current & previous roles.   The second is often focused on fit, so questions may be more aligned to your personality & character.    The employer wants to know that if offered the role, you will fit in with the gang, so to speak.   They will also want to know if you will stay, enhance the team, and do the job well.

In truth, the second interview is where you must deal with the heart & soul of an interview & the following are some quick-fire tips that will help you.

Tip 1 – Don’t be complacent.

A little word of warning at this stage is no matter how well the first interview has gone, don’t let up or be complacent. To be blunt, up the tempo even more, be more engaged & thorough.  Be sure you leave no stone unturned & be even more prepared.  At the second stage, you may be meeting new people, and they will cover the same ground of the first interview, so it’s a very good idea to review the nature of the role again & identify how your experience can help.   They will also ask the same questions, possibly worded differently, so it’s great opportunity to hit home your skills, aptitude to do the job & ways you can help.

Tip 2 – Likeability – make them like you.  

The power of attraction as some people call it.   A second or third interview is normally with the key decision maker.  The wider team like you & know you can do the job & now, it’s more about: Can I work with you.   People rarely hire someone they don’t like, so do not let up on your agreeability, manageability, willingness, conscientious & care for your profession.  These are the traits employers love.  Also be sure to observe all the social skills of a two-way conversation – no interrupting, casual remarks & most of all, listen.  In fact, be a champion listener.  You do not need to be a clone but do find areas of common interest such as approaches to work & your profession.

Tip 3 – Don’t relax too much.

Whilst you do want to show them the real you – never treat an interview as a confessional dialogue in which you share your political, cultural or other viewpoints.   Nor should you confess to any strong imperfections that can have a direct influence on the role.   Show them the best version of you – kind, thoughtful, mature, honest, willing & grounded are traits people warm to.

Tip 4 – Know the business.  

Do get a better grip of the firm and the industry in which it operates and look up the people you will meet.  Look for similarities between their career & yours & build a connection.  Humans like to do business and work with people they like or have similar values, so it’s well worth finding common ground.     You can come across as keen as mustard by doing substantial research on how a company is performing and how you can help them reach their goals.

Tip 5 – Know you’re worth.

I’ve seen many people blow their chances by asking for salary which is well beyond the parameters of the role.   There is a very good chance you will be asked about your salary expectations & whilst you do not want to settle for an inadequate figure, do be fair & realistic. It is important to know your value and market rates.  The most sensible answer is to outline your present package & look for the middle ground on what is on offer.  Accentuate that the role & culture is of primary importance but you’d like to be rewarded fairly for your expertise.  Jobs that provide a specific salary or band can make this easier, but a lot don’t. An over-inflated value of your skills can switch someone off in an instant.

Tip 6 – Always ask good questions.  

Never, ever pass up the opportunity to ask good questions. Three of four is a good number. It’s probably the most misunderstood & undervalued part of the interview.   Quite seriously, it can win or lose you the chance of being offered the role.    To ask nothing shows a real air of complacency & worse still, a lack of interest.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that no matter how well the interview has gone, you don’t need to ask any.  Good questions show you have a clear understanding of the role & most important shows the interviewer that you’ve been listening, and you understand what needs to be done.

Tip 7 – Focus on fitting in.

Without question, the most common answer for not getting the gig is ‘fit’.  Fit refers to how you fit into a company’s culture which is expressed in the values, ethos and behaviour of the tribe.  It’s well worth boning up a company’s culture and gauging what they’re about, their value and plans & what type of people succeed in their environment.        I would not lose sleep over not getting a job based on fit because there is no point being a square peg in a round hole, but it would be a shame to miss out through a lack of insight or research.

Tip 8 – Handle the Humdinger questions.     

Interview questions have not changed much & are pretty much the same year after year but watch out for those killer ones. ‘Why do you want to work here?’ or ‘What interests you most about us & the role?’ are two that you cannot afford to be unprepared for.  A weak answer will devalue your candidacy and open the door for someone that is more prepared and engaged.  There are others such as ‘what have you learnt from previous roles’ or ‘how long would it take for you to make a contribution’ so you’ve got to prepare for these and be able to knock ‘em stone dead with your answers.

Tip 9 – Respond to buying signals.     

You know there is a real interest when they talk about you as if you were doing the job or, ask about your availability, or how many other interviews you have.   These are all very strong buying signals & is the exact point to re-emphasise your interest & how you’d love to start as soon as possible.    There will come a point when the interviewer stops asking about your ability and will focus more on you.  This is because their interest has gone up a few notches, so they want to get to know the real you.

Tip 10 – Don’t stop.

It’s important to keep pushing and moving with your applications.  It maybe that you get your preferred job, but no gain is to be had waiting on a procrastinated decision. I’ve seen that happen too many times, so go out & keep looking & do not stop until an offer is in your hand & it’s what you want.   This is hard but anything can happen during a hiring process and it’s best to keep all your options open.

You may not know in advance the type of interview you will encounter but by going the extra mile, you won’t get caught off guard & you can give the best possible performance.   You‘ll have the facts to demonstrate a convincing fit between your skills and the job requirements & can give brilliant answers to questions, you’ll most likely encounter.