A recruiter’s guide to interviewing well

This guide by Peter Noblet, regional director sales and marketing, Hays Specialist Recruitment, is featured in the February 2012 issue of Marketing magazine, which is available here, and includes an extended recruitment feature.

 

A job interview is one of the most important parts of the recruitment process. Firstly do your research. Researching the organisation concerned will help you enter a job interview with confidence. A company’s website, professional bodies, annual reports, your networks and your recruitment expert will help you gain a better understanding of the business and how your experience and skills match.

The second step is to anticipate and prepare for likely questions. Some of the common subject areas likely to come up include your general background, qualifications, experience, reasons for applying and career objectives.

Often the first question will ask for a summary of your background. It is quite acceptable to repeat major points you have outlined in your resume or letter of application at this point.

The next question will often centre on your qualifications and why you think you are qualified for the position you are being interviewed for. Qualifications, in this context, mean all qualifications which could make you suitable for the position including educational, employment related and personal. In most cases, this may be the question that will win or lose you the job, so your answer needs to be clear and memorable.

When it comes to addressing your experience, here is where your research pays off. Your answer should include details about relevant employment, community or educational experience and how this relates to the nature of the industry, the organisation and the position itself. It is important you promote your abilities and back up your experience with facts and evidence. For example, have you increased profitability for your current employer through increased sales or business development? If so, provide sales reports or a letter from your current employer that confirms your contribution to the business.

When stating your reasons for applying, your answer should describe what you find appealing about the position, how you prepared yourself for a career in the organisation and how you believe your present job equips you for the position in question. You can also express your views on the company and how its culture, beliefs and values align with yours.

Be ready to discuss your long-term aspirations. Your best approach is one that indicates you have thought about your career in these terms and have taken some action towards realising your ambitions.

According to our latest Hays Quarterly Report, the most in demand skills desired by sales and marketing employers at the moment are stakeholder management experience and strong communication skills. An interesting trend the report also noted, coming out of the GFC, is an increased focus on finding candidates who can immediately add value. This not only evident in the sales and marketing sector, but extends across most industries. This is why you need to demonstrate one or two unique selling points that differentiate you from another candidate with a similar background.

Treat the interview as a two-way discussion and answer questions honestly, directly and keep to the point. Everyone present will be focusing their attention on you, so clouding your answer with jargon or evading the issue will be more obvious than you think. If you are not certain about a particular question, do not be afraid to ask if it can be rephrased. Listen, never interrupt and answer only what is asked.

Towards the end of the interview, you will usually be asked if you have any questions of your own. Be confident when asking your questions and use them as another way to impress. For example, you could ask about the career path available, the size of the marketing team, the available support or the reporting deadlines.