The Art of Interview Preparation and Why You Should Do It
One of the things that attracted me to work for Morgan McKinley was that the firm is globally committed to a what they like to call Career Ally.
Your recruiter asked you to come in to prepare you for your upcoming interview for the second or even third time? Why wouldn’t they just give you a list of questions to practice and prepare and send you on your way? Preparing for the interview can’t possibly be that important. It’s all about the job interview itself, isn’t it?
Why prepare before going to your job interview?
The aim of the interview prep is to highlight any particular areas of development that we can hopefully iron out before you go into interview with the hiring manager to give you the best possible shot.
When we prepare you for the interview, you also receive an in-depth Interview Preparation Guide from us with everything there is to know about interview preparation.
Let me tell you, yes the interview prep might come across as tedious, but during these sessions a good recruiter is looking to see how you answer a question. They are looking at so much more than just the words you use, they are looking at the way you hold yourself, the tone you speak in, the volume of your voice and how you come across as you answer questions etc.
Common things we notice (before we even get to the Why):
This might not seem like a big one but believe me, if you spend the interview looking at the floor, ceiling, walls etc. you aren't going to impress the hiring manager.
Speed of speech
Many, especially when nervous, tend to speed up their sentences without realising a lot of the time (unless of course you run out of air, then you will likely notice). This can once again make it difficult to hear the point you are trying to get over.
This can quite often go either way, some will speak too quietly meaning it's very hard to hear what you are saying, and if the role involves you speaking to stakeholders etc. you can guarantee that the hiring manager won't feel comfortable leaving you with them - the same goes for speaking too loudly... It can be a little off-putting.
People want to hear the excitement in your voice when you are describing achievements or pieces of work you have completed. If you are talking about something you are truly proud of, there's a good chance you are showing your interest and enthusiasm, are smiling, and creating a positive vibe around you - this will engage the hiring manager with your answers.
These are just a few examples of things that us as recruiters are looking for and, if we are doing our job well, we should advise and practise with you to ensure that you go in to the interview with positive body language. Hopefully you will have also eliminated any bad habits - you can then just focus on the answers you are about to give.
Now onto the answer itself...
Often, when under interview pressure, people tend to freeze and panic slightly (don't worry, the majority do this). That half a second you pause, to you feels a lot longer, which once again increases the pressure you put on yourself. This quite often leads you to rush out an answer meaning some key points that might make you stand out against your competition are missed.
So what are we looking for when answering a question...
At Morgan McKinley we adopt the STAR technique to answering questions. The STAR technique gives you a basic framework in which to answer a behavioural and/or situational question and helps to ensure that you cover all the points in detail. So what is STAR?
- Situation: Here you are aiming to set the scene, you are looking to get across what the issue/ problem is.
- Task: This part of the question would be looking at what you knew you had to do to correct the issue/problem.
- Action: Is what you actually did to complete the tasks. If the task was to build your network/relationships in the business to complete a project on time, then the action is the meetings you booked, how you booked them and the research you performed to make the tasks happen.
- Result: Probably one of the most important parts of the answer but often undersold. The result is your chance to shine. What did you do better than others who have sat in the chair you are interviewing in now? The aim here is to get over how much you have saved/made a business money or how you have improved a process etc. Try to give as much relevant detail here and if you are proud of the result don't be afraid to show it.
Now don't be worried, probably 80-90% of people I have in for interview preparation very rarely get the answer out in as much detail as they should on the 1st, 2nd or even the 3rd attempt. It usually takes at least 3 attempts on the same question/answer to relax, feel comfortable and give the answer in the right level of detail to make you stand out. Ultimately that's the whole point of the interview prep, this is your test run.
If you are going to make mistakes its best to make them in front of a trusted "Career Ally" who will give you advice on your answer and help you improve it. So hopefully when you enter the interview and you get asked the question your recruiter had you to practise multiple times, you are relaxed and are prepared to give an answer that will leave you feeling good about the interview process.
So my advice, if the interview preparation is offered... Take it! And if it isn't ask for it!
We provide our candidates with a fantastic interview preparation document, which you can download below.