How Do You Prepare For An Interview?


We are pleased to share a very useful article written by one of our long standing partners Iain Stewart.

A client recently asked me how to approach the process of re-applying for her job, as a consequence of a major re-organisation, with a new boss who she does not know.

She told me that although she hires people quite regularly, she has no template for interview preparation, and has not herself been through an interview for many years.

Here is what we defined as her approach, which, as a generic preparation tool, I want to share with anyone who needs to sharpen up their process, either as an interviewer or a candidate.

First of all, as a candidate, consider the interview as a competition you intend to win – only when you have a job offer do you need to make a final decision about accepting the role or not, a decision which should by then be informed by your due diligence, and the quality of the offer.

Prepare for the prospect that a good competent interviewer should be testing the candidate on three critical, go/no-go questions.

  1. Could this person do the job?
  2. Could this person be an effective member of my team?
  3. Could I work with this person?

Subordinate areas of the interview will focus, in more detail, on the candidate’s competence in the three areas of:-

  1. a) Content Knowledge relevant to the job;
  2. b) Leadership;
  3. c) Behaviours,

and, in addition to having credible answers ready for the interview, the candidate should always be prepared to provide evidence, to support their initial answers – make sure that your answers have precision and conciseness.

Content Knowledge is reasonably self-explanatory, but be sure to have a clear definition of the role, and an excellent understanding of what would be required to satisfactorily undertake the job, from the perspectives of resources, processes, tools, and governance, striking the right balance between theory and practice.

Leadership is often mistakenly considered to be synonymous with Management.

Everyone has had an attempt to define Leadership, but let’s simplify it here.

Management is about the organisation and deployment of resources in order to create outcomes which meet organisational goals, for example achieving production outputs, or customer service levels.

Leadership, on the other hand, involves knowing what good management looks like, but additionally organising resources and people to make the enterprise achieve its strategic goals, and to be competitive and durable; for example identifying the need for additional capacity, or new products and services, and facilitating the successful implementation of these developments.

Not all leaders are great managers, and not all great managers are wonderful leaders!

Knowledge and leadership ability need to be augmented by, and deployed through the application of appropriate Behaviours.

Some of these are innate, others are learned, and everyone has a subtly different make-up from the next person.

However, in the interview setting, some behaviours, which could almost be classed as values, will always be important.

These include integrity, honesty, decisiveness, relational skills, energy, ambition, cultural sensitivity, political awareness, attitude to risk, reasoning ability, and many other ‘soft’ attributes.

In all of the behavioural areas, the interviewee is just as responsible as the interviewer for assessing the level of fit between their personal style and the environment of the recruiting employer.

There is also a school of thought that interviewers are seeking their potential successors – that may be true, although in some cases, organisations are looking for content specialists or experts, who may never have the breadth to succeed their boss.

A decent interviewer is however likely to be studying a good candidate, and wondering if the candidate is:-

…their potential successor, or;

…someone they need in their team as a specialist, but not their potential successor, or;

…someone they should not hire!

In any event, do not appear in the interview as though you want the interviewer’s job…yet!

There, then, is some generic structure for the preparation for interviews, and engaging in them.

Of course, do the preparation and the research, on the organisation, and the individuals who you will be meeting.

Of course listen carefully and observe body language, and tailor your responses to questions and situations in a considered and appropriate way.

As a crude rule of thumb, if it feels right, then it probably is, and if it doesn’t feel right, back your instincts – it probably isn’t!

Iain Stewart

Director – Medinrun Limited

July 2017

March Thoughts of a Headhunter

So, some mixed news in Q1 from the housebuilding industry. Persimmon and Barratt report declining sales figures for 2007 yet increasing profits. Sales Directors are reporting increasing footfall to site but customers are delaying buying decisions. The media reports turbulence in the lending market but interest rates have been reduced for the second time in three months. It would be a shrewd person who could accurately predict the direction of the industry for the remaining nine months of 2008.

So what effect has all this had on the employment market for housebuilding professionals? In short, the housebuilders are taking this opportunity to re-evaluate overhead. Persimmon and Gladedale have merged two local offices in to one in a number of locations resulting in some existing vacancies being filled by employees from the adjacent regional office and a number of redundancies.

Housebuilders have long memories and don’t want to be over burdened should the market take a further downturn so the decision to replace leavers is being delayed. Departmental teams are managing on limited staff resources whilst everyone awaits the next shift in the market.

Many well respected and established senior managers and directors are putting the feelers out to create a safety net for themselves. Wary of an office closure or staffing cuts they are tentatively attempting to get a feel for other job opportunities should the possibility of redundancy materialise.

For the firms who are looking to fill vacancies the choice of candidate is a strong as it has been for several years. High performers are more open to an approach than seen in recent months.

As yet the change in market dynamics has seen no material change to salary expectations. Although with lower levels of recruitment activity it may take some time for the any downward pressure to take effect.

In summary, if you are recruiting staff expect to see three or four very good candidates for your vacancy but don’t expect to employ them on the cheap. If you are looking for a new position some confidence seeping back in the market is what you require to take the brakes off recruitment plans.