Careers Advice: What you should know before an interview

Written by: Susie Sell
Published on: 2 Apr 2014

Nick Lewis

Preparing for an interview in today’s climate is key. Demonstrating a thorough approach to work and research will always reflect well on you when meeting a potential employer.

Research the company. As a bare minimum demonstrate your interest in the organisation by thoroughly reading the company website. Use the resources available to you to research recent planning projects and seek out news about the business in trade and national press. Find out about areas of strengths and specialism for the company and build your own knowledge in these areas. Every candidate should be prepared for the question “tell me what you know about us?”

Research the people you are due to meet. Using business networking tools like LinkedIn and website biographies identify the individuals you will be meeting and where they are placed within the company. Rudimentary research may identify your interviewer’s academic, commercial and project history. Knowing your interviewer’s background can create excellent talking points and assists in building relationships. (Please note there is a line to be drawn between research and stalking so remember to focus on commercial issues).

Make sure you are up to date with relevant legislation and be aware of recent changes in the market around planning law and guidelines. Consultancy by its very nature requires a high level of client interaction, so practice to become confident and authoritative whilst communicating the planning law specific to the projects you have worked on and the role you are applying for.

Be ready to articulate your roles and responsibilities within the projects you have managed or been involved in. Create a document highlighting the key points of your commercial background. Many employers will have already researched you, but providing a one page summary of your career to date, project involvement as well as external achievements can be an effective post interview reminder to any potential employer of your skills set as well as company fit.

Prepare questions. Nearly every interview closes with “do you have any questions for us?” there are very few more disappointing answers than “I think you have covered everything” and realistically it’s highly unlikely. You may only have one meeting before a job is offered so before you leave the interview be clear in your mind, the duties of the job, the location of the work, the nature of the projects, your promotional prospects and why this company might be a great opportunity.