You’ve been invited to a meeting/ interview.

Firstly, congratulations! This is the first big step in securing the right role.  Secondly, whether your meeting is speculative or a set interview, making the most of it is vitally important.  You will typically have at first stage between 45minutes and 1 ½ hours to illustrate your successes, what you’ve done, knowledge of the market, what you can bring to their business, your personality and so on.  To make things worse, you’re probably up against someone with a very similar background to yourself.

Within GRG Recruitment we have a saying of “the best person doesn’t necessarily get the job, it’s the person who interviews the best that typically does”. The key thing for you think about is: “what will they be looking for in me to be in a position to shortlist me to a second stage?”.  They have already invited you to the 1st interview so they know what is on your CV and what the GRG Recruitment Consultant has said, so what else are they looking for in the interview itself?

Typically they will be looking for;

  • Personality fit within the business
  • Presentation skills (could they see you representing their business?)
  • Knowledgeable
  • Organised
  • Ability to go that extra mile
  • Entrepreneurial and ability to think ‘outside the box’.
  • Ability to be autonomous
  • Motivated to succeed plus genuine enthusiasm
  • Longevity mindset
  • Ability to adjust quickly to moving to a new company
  • How much money can this person generate or bring to the business?
  • What impact could this person have on the business?

Quite a few things to cover in the space of a first meeting and maybe over only  45minutes! So don’t let them guess the above, illustrate it directly and indirectly.

Below are a few tips to simply help illustrate this and maximise the time:

(1)  Illustrate you’ve done some research and not just by looking on their website. For example this can be done by printing off various documents and having them on the interview table in front of you to draw reference to, possibly use a highlighter pen to show you’ve actually read it too. They will obviously see that you’ve done a lot of research and are a thorough, knowledgeable, organised and a prepared individual. Quick tip: By putting the name of the company or the names of key directors and who you’re meeting with into Google or Yahoo

search engines should bring up various different news articles or journals to help you in this research, on top of the info from their website.

If possible, professionally ask some buyers about their thoughts, either current or potential accounts to the business.  Whatever the answer the buyer gives, you then have the opportunity and knowledge to illustrate what you can add to their business during the interview.  Plus, you highlight the buyers you know and your ability to get information out of them, something they may very well be struggling with at present. Be careful though and ask your GRG Consultant before doing this as some roles provided may be highly confidential where this approach may be inappropriate.

(2)  Manage the time and your answers effectively. Clients are busy people too and don’t really like interviewing as it takes them away from their day to day job.  Therefore, if they say it will be an hour it typically will be as they may well have someone else to see after you or somewhere else to go. Therefore, don’t waffle on and make sure you actually answer the questions (you’ll be surprised how many people don’t do this!).

Most Interviewers will tend to pick a point in your career and work their way to present roles from there (typically the last 5 years of employment). So if they ask “tell me about this role”, don’t start off from the first job 20 years ago and spend the next 30minutes talking through it all building up to that role in question. If they were interested in that part, they would have asked about it. Don’t over sell!  We’ve known clients who have said, “In five minutes could you give us a brief breakdown of your career to date?”.  Doesn’t sound too bad, but they have then rejected candidates for taking longer than 5 minutes stating that they have poor time management skills. A lot needs to be covered in a very small space of time for them to see the true you, so keep an eye on your answers and how long is left in the interview.

(3)  Know your CV. They will have a copy of your CV infront of them and will probably have made some notes from it. Therefore you need to make sure it is consistent with what you are saying. Learn what you’ve put and draw reference to elements of your CV.  Remember facts and figures (see below).

(4)  Facts & Figures. Every sales person will always state that they are the best at what they do and how their sales accounts have grown considerably. Therefore you need to differentiate yourself and by being able to concisely and accurately present facts and figures on what you have achieved.

Someone who says “I grew my account base of ASDA, Morrisons and Waitrose from £81m to £126m where I implemented 9 new SKUs in total and achieved 2 price increases within the 4 years there which I’m really proud of”, would be more impressive an answer, plus gives the stronger first impression about that persons mindset and ability

than someone who simple said, “well with GRG Drinks, I was ahead of target and we really grew the accounts quite considerably by implementing some new lines”. The second person may very well have actually had better results than the first but the 1st illustrated his/her successes better in the interview by highlighting facts and figures.  If you don’t have any facts and figures, you will typically have sufficient amount of time to gather them before the actual first interview.  Furthermore, make some notes to take into the interview to draw upon so you don’t forget or get confused with other achievements under the pressure of the interview.

(5)  Body language– Your body language tells a lot about you without you even knowing it.  In many cases you can indirectly influence the tone of the meeting as they subconsciously react to your body language.

Don’t over analyse this or concentrate too heavily on your body language too much, as this may distract from your answers you give and the flow of the interview.  However, be sensible and keep in mind how you are presenting yourself. Quick tip; If the meeting is going well, don’t lean back in your chair or start looking out of the window while talking. Don’t cross your arms and make sure you have regular eye contact with ALL those in the room, smile and say things with enthusiasm. Do this and you should be ok.  Couple of other tips for you; Have a tissue or hanky in your pocket or to hand.  No-one likes to shake a sweaty hand when meeting someone or at the end of a meeting nor someone who sniffs their nose throughout the entire interview. First impressions remember.

(6)  Your language –Every company has different terms, acronyms, and so on for everything imaginable. Think about what you’re saying as you may say one term but they call that something else. If you have a term or acronym you use that you think may just be limited to your company, simply double check with them that they use that term too.  Furthermore, don’t swear, even if they do.  Some theories say that “mirroring”, as it’s called, is good in interviews, however, the majority of cases around swearing and mirroring swearing is deemed as a negative. Also, be polite, thank them for their time or if they offer you some water. (sounds silly but again, you’ll be surprised what an interview can do to people.)

“we” –Too many people, (especially northerners) say things like “WE grew the account base” or “what WE did was conduct a needs analysis and then WE implemented the strategy around that”, when they really mean “I did this single-handedly.” By implying that you weren’t alone in such actions can dilute the actual achievement.  If you were in a group, great, as it shows team work, but if you solely did something then make sure your language is correct so that you can take the credit and impress the interviewer to the fullest. Try to mix your answers around “we” and “I” to emphasise your all round capabilities in being a team player and being able to work autonomously.

(7)  What to take: As highlighted above, taking things along gives the instant impression of someone who is organised, thorough and so on. Our advice would be to take a copy of your CV for you to draw upon, a list of key achievements (facts & figures) people you will mutually know to name drop as well as your achievements and pen and paper to make notes. Regarding this last point, you will be surprised how many people don’t take notes and thus typically presenting a negative impression as a result. By taking notes, it shows you are paying attention and are gathering information (that may not have been provided before) of which you can generate further topics for later questions, highlighting your listening skills (see “do you have any questions?”). Keep in mind this example, that however intelligent some Waiters may look in a Restaurant, you’re never quite sure or comfortable about them trying to remember everyones order by not writing it down. True?

(8)  “Do you have any questions?” With typically 5-10 minutes remaining of an interview, a client will ask the question: “Do you have any questions?” So many candidates have fallen at the last hurdle by simple going “no, don’t think so”. Asking questions shows enthusiasm, thoroughness, eagerness to learn, interest in their business and someone who is not going to potentially make a life changing decision without asking a few questions about it first.

As mentioned earlier, have a list of pre-prepared questions written down to draw upon. Keep in mind the time frames when asking questions and even highlight your time management and time awareness skills by utilising comments like; “I appreciate we only have 5 minutes or so left so therefore I will just ask a couple of key questions from my list I prepared if that’s ok.”

Another tip would be to draw reference to your research and the documents you may have brought with you. Eg “I was reading this article on The Grocer website when I was doing some research in preparation of this meeting about….”.  Additionally you may want to highlight your listening skills by saying “I noted you mentioned earlier in our meeting about…..”. All then leading to sensible and intelligent questions.

Remember the questions you ask will also give an insight into you, so don’t ask things like “how many days holiday would I get?” or “do I get a choice of car?”. Good things to know, but ask your GRG Recruitment Consultant, not the client.

Sometimes in an interview the client may give a very comprehensive run down of their business, the role, plans moving forward and so on and may very well have answered your prepared questions by the end of it.  If this happens and you can’t think of any other questions a little tip would be to say, “I think we’ve covered everything I had prepared to ask, but let me just check.” This will illustrate that you have actually been forward thinking in having a prepared list of questions and so on, but also gives you a couple more moments to think of a sensible question.

(9)  Closing an Interview –don’t forget you are trying to sell yourself to the potential employer and that you are going for a sales role.  Any good sales person, whatever level, with look to close on a deal at the end of any meeting.  Therefore, show that you are salesy and keen, by closing on a decision.

A couple of popular interview closes would be “do you have any reservations about progressing me to the next stage?” or “where do I stand in relation to those you have met already and why?” Furthermore, if they do have any reservations or concerns you can look to overcome them there and then, rather then them going away with pre-conceived ideas or maybe having misinterpreted something you may have said earlier in the interview.

(10)                 Don’t be late. Go on a route planner system and calculate exactly how long it takes to get to the interview venue and then add an extra 30 minutes at least to the journey.  If you get there with 30minutes or so to spare then great, sit in your car, round the corner or nearby cafe and read through your notes, CV and even this document. Ideally you want to be sat in their reception or at the venue around 10 minutes before the interview is due to start, so leaving plenty of time to either get lost or traffic problems shows forward thinking.

If you are unfortunately running late or your SAT NAV is implying you are running late, then always call your GRG Recruitment Consultant. If for whatever reason you can’t get hold of that Consultant then ask to speak to a colleague.  Worst case scenario ring ahead to the company’s office through the numbers provided or by dialling BT’s 118 118 who will put you through to the clients reception or venue reception who will be able to forward a message to the Interviewer.  Something is better than nothing if you look as if you’re going to be late.  First impressions remember.

(11)                 Something to remember you by.  As we’ve highlighted throughout this, it is very difficult to truly highlight who exactly you are and what you can bring to a potential employee.  Therefore, by putting together a well presented document that you can leave with them, highlighting who you are, key achievements, your knowledge of them and the market place and what you can bring to the their business, really does leave a powerful final impression.  Furthermore, it re-emphasises what you have hopefully been talking about in the interview itself.  It may seem like a lot of effort putting together a 6-10 page document to leave them, but that extra hour or so on an evening composing something could be the difference between getting the job and not over someone else.

In Summary:

  • Don’t be late (leave plenty of time).
  • Show you’ve done some research.
  • Answer the question (don’t waffle on).
  • Know your CV.
  • Differentiate yourself through Facts & Figures.
  • Keep an eye on your body language.
  • Keep an eye on what you’re saying (acronyms, terms, “we”. etc.).
  • Take the right items along with you for the interview.
  • Have some pre-prepared sensible questions written down.
  • Close the interview.
  • Leave a document for them to remember you by.

If you have any questions regarding the above or would like us to help you with your research and preparation, or want any advice on anything at all, then please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

….Best of luck but we’re sure you won’t need it!