There are many approaches taken by businesses when it comes to interviews – the ‘informal’ coffee, the video call and the interrogation to name a few. I am often asked ‘how should I prepare for an interview?’ and there is, sadly, no golden recipe! However, there are still a number of tips that you can take on board aside from being on time and having a firm handshake!
Firstly - and crucially - do your research! I would always advise that you should research the company or organisation involved before applying, and there are plenty of sources – other than the company website - now available for you to find out more about the business and your interviewers. Take the time to look at industry news using The Planner, Planning Resource or Insider (there are plenty of other sites!) and look at their recent success stories, news about recent hires and the latest news on planning issues within that region.
Aside from researching the business I always believe it is worthwhile trying to find out more about those who will be meeting you. The obvious source here is LinkedIn, but you can also try a quick Google search to unearth further detail on their background which allows you to prepare questions specific to the business and those you would be working with.
Review your CV prior to the interview and remind yourself of what you did and did not include. This might sound rather basic but it is all the interviewer has to know you by and it is crucial that you expand on the experience included whilst demonstrating your communication skills. Interviews that have gone well are those that deviate away from the CV rather than both sides feeling it was a basic Q&A of the CV.
Preparing for specific questions can prove difficult as you are very unlikely to know what’s coming. However, I would always suggest having examples of when you have worked effectively within a team – for recent graduates an interest group project is a nice talking point – and for those of you with experience you should have plenty of examples. Another good example to have in your interview locker would be a time when you have worked to a tight deadline – this is a great chance to showcase your willingness to go above and beyond, whilst being organised and efficient. Find examples that showcase your skill-set!
Speaking of your skill-set, the importance of transferable skills are on the rise. It goes without saying that it is imperative that you have the basics to even get the interview (educational background and relevant experience), but we often find our clients will deviate from their original brief when an individual can demonstrate transferable skills that add value to the team they will join. Transferable skills are, of course, varied but do not be shy to talk about your wider talents as we see planners take on versatile roles not only client-side but also within a consultancy environment – but best to leave out any Christmas party tricks!
Lastly, but most importantly, be yourself! It sounds rather simple advice but team fit and personality are huge deciding factors for clients. Being yourself also allows you to ascertain whether the environment is right for you and this is absolutely crucial when attending an interview – don’t forget, you have a decision to make too!
Jason Moore is principal consultant at recruitment consultants Blayse Group