Preparation to interview : preliminary steps and tips for the D-day |

Preparation to interview : preliminary steps and tips for the D-day

The time has come for your preparation to interview, to meet your future employer whatever your situation might be (in active search or not…).  Imagine the following situation, you must present yourself next Tuesday at 9h30, rue McGill – 6th floor, to meet Mr. Kind and Ms. Terror from Paradise company Inc.

The objective of this article is to prepare you for selection interviews so that you perform to the maximum and project the best image of yourself.  A selection interview is often short, and most of the time you only have an hour to convince them.

Whatever your profession, you should be prepared for any type of meeting, you should be able to sell yourself without selling yourself short.  The interview is the central point of the selection process and the root of the recruitment process.

You should prepare yourself for selection interviews by being well aware of the recruiter’s role and their boundaries.  We will identify the different types of recruiters and their role in companies as well as how to get the best from it.



Grasping the interview

A minor detail you tell me, but have you taken note of the number, the floor, and the corner of the road or the metro??  These little details will help you to arrive on time and stress-free (I have always had difficulty with candidates who arrive 30 minutes late, dripping with sweat because they ended up at the wrong place…) Oh yes, I almost forgot, be on your guard with the person who arranges the interview, you must remember your manners regardless of whether you are speaking to the secretary or assistant…(personally I love pretending to be my assistant…I am sometimes let down when  talking to a candidate who thinks I am someone else!!)

Collecting information on the company and the position

Now that you have your meeting arranged, don’t get too comfortable! Another minor detail, do you know who you are going to meet and what the company does?  What is its market? Its products and services? Therefore you must PREPARE YOURSELF.  The internet holds many surprises in store, go and check out the company’s website, read the reviews and news articles, research the annual report, take as many measures as you can to avoid blank looks in front of your future employers and also to prove your motivation and capacity to get well informed!

Identifying your interviewers

Knowing who you will meet is not a mark of indiscretion, it will allow you to better pinpoint the objectives of the first meeting.  Also if you meet human resource personnel you will know it is not necessary to ask precise questions on subjects which your interviewer may not know the answers to and therefore will embarrass them…If the interview takes place with the human resources representative and the manager (your possible future employer) you could go into more details to expand the interview.



Psychological preparation

Meditating and lighting candles before the interview is futile but don’t neglect your sleep, especially if the interview is at 8am.  Rings under your eyes and a grey face are not signs of great energy and vigor!

Last details (original CV, your appearance, the place, interview confirmation)

Have an original copy of your CV on hand (and no, no-one is perfect, just because your interviewer isn’t prepared doesn’t mean you don’t have to be!), if you are going by car, think about parking (I am regularly confronted by candidates who say to me in the middle of an interview: “I just have to put some money in for parking! I’ll be right back! Honestly it’s the truth!).  It is pointless putting on too much perfume or wearing inappropriate clothing (a three-piece pinstriped suit for an interview in a multimedia company is as inadvisable as a leopard skirt (as fashionable as it may be) for an interview with ABC bank!) we won’t go into tastes and colors but some self-restraint all the same!

The days schedule

You never know how long an interview will last (although they are normally between 1h and 1h30).  Be prepared for every eventuality; it is very unadvisable to have to leave the interview saying: “sorry but I have another interview in 10 minutes!! Or, I have to be at the nursery by 5pm!”



The welcome

No matter who welcomes you, always be polite (even with the secretary or assistant…), appear relaxed and raring to go!

Introduction with the recruiter; the 5 first five decisive minutes

We often say that the first three minutes are the deciders…The beginning of the interview will dictate the tone.  Be attentive to the signs (does your interviewer seem preoccupied? Does he seem ready to allow you some time?) And adapt your behavior to their attitude.

Ask questions and know how to respond , prepare some questions in advance

If you are well prepared, you will know how to reply to questions and ask your interviewers relevant questions.  Above all don’t arrive with a long list (you’re not the one conducting the interview!) but know how to grasp the interviewer’s comments and make good use of them.  Questions on working hours and social benefits at the first interview are misplaced! Focusing on the responsibilities and content of the position will be much more valuable to the future employer.

Your behavior and the recruiters behavior, discover the weaknesses and opportunities

The following is a golden rule: there are no bad candidates or bad career opportunities, only candidates who are not suited to the opportunity available!

Once you get this into your head, you will know that it is no use selling yourself more than necessary.  You are sitting in that chair to assess whether your experience corresponds to what the company is offering you.  If you have twenty years experience in accounting and you are being interviewed for a job as junior accounting analyst (ok that is a problem: why have you been called in? then why not look at other possibilities with your interviewers?) there is no point saying that “you are flexible and ready for new challenges”…


Here are a few tips on what not to do:

  • Not listening, make your interviewers repeat themselves (trust me it is very annoying!)
  • Talk about your personal life (inappropriate!)
  • Chew gum (You are not a cow!)
  • Criticize your former employer (fatal error!)
  • Lie about your qualifications and your previous experience (very risky!)
  • Kiss your interviewer to say goodbye (yes it has already happened to me…at least people have tried!)
  • If the interview takes place at a restaurant, remember your mothers advice (sit straight, mind your table manners, don’t make noise when you eat, drink mineral water or sparkling water, don’t choose a heavy meal or one with sauce…beware of stains! Anything else? Oh yes, you are there to talk about the job and the company not the culinary arts!)

Your argument, your personal marketing

The important thing is to know yourself well and know how to present your accomplishments and your potential for differentiation from other candidates.  It’s not a question of reciting a prepared argument off by heart but rather knowing how to relate your previous experiences to the position available.  Make the most of your PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS, those you can be proud of and can explain well.  Ask yourself the following question: What is the difference between one controller and another?  If you yourself had to hire a financial accounting analyst, what would you base your decision on?

Knowing how to conclude

It is time to leave; normally your interviewer asks if you have any OTHER questions.  You can have one or two (on the following procedure for example…) but please don’t go back to questions which have already been addressed and don’t get into a discussion again!  Thank your interviewers for their time, shake their hand and take your leave.  (When you get home do not forget to send a short email to say thank you and/or to pass on some additional information if necessary).

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