Fresh By Zebra People

Zebra People’s top tips for acing an interview

5 mins read

The interview itself can raise all sorts of concerns for candidates, but if you follow our tried and tested tips you will find the process an enjoyable challenge rather than a daunting task. Make sure the proposed date allows you enough time to prepare, and if it’s a virtual meeting ensure you will be in a comfortable, appropriate environment with good WIFI – test your laptop and connection well in advance!

For an in-person meeting, allow extra time to reach the venue – you can always go for a coffee if you’re early, but be sure you know the exact location.  Don’t arrive more than 10 minutes earlier than the start time and have a contact number for the interviewer so you can reach them should you be delayed.

Finally, make sure you know the format of the interview (informal chat, panel, software testing etc) – and what the various stages will be e.g. first interview with HR, second interview with team leader, final interview with MD.

1. Do your research

Check out their website, who their current employees are, the LinkedIn profiles of the relevant team and the people interviewing you. Read through any blogs to get a feel for the culture and get a good idea of what they are like and what their goals are.  Who are their clients, what are their recent successes?

It would also be wise to get a good feel for the industry, find out what recent developments are, if there is any exciting new tech or significant news that you could then confidently discuss with your interviewers.

2. Job description

Familiarise yourself fully with the job description – what they expect from you, what support or training they offer; be prepared to answer questions on your relevant experience.  If there are any gaps in your knowledge, then be prepared to demonstrate how quickly you have picked up new skills in the past – show that you are adaptable but try not to exaggerate.

3. Interviewers are people too

A little research into your interviewers might give you some talking points – so look at their LinkedIn profile and see if they’ve posted articles and what they talk about; taking a genuine interest in other people is a great quality and will show that you are confident and interested in other people.
If this is a design role then take along any work examples or a portfolio – offer to show them and take your cue from their interest.  Have a pad and pens so you can sketch out any ideas.

4. Practice makes perfect

Even if you have been through this process many times before, sharpening your professional conversation skills is always useful.
Get a friend to go through some questions with you and make sure they are critical and objective to test your thinking and responses.
At Zebra we are happy to help with interview practice and can arrange some mock interviews with you to help you acclimatise to the interview situation.

5. Listen

  • Listen intently to what the interviewer is saying.
  • Pause and consider what they have asked you.
  • Reply thoughtfully with a response that proves you understood the question.

6. No one wants to know your last boss was awful

Keep negative comments about your current/previous employer out of the conversation, it gives a poor impression and implies a lack of discretion.

7. It’s all in the eyes

Body language is an essential part of communication:

  • Posture – Sitting upright and leaning slightly forward indicates you are listening and actively engaging in the conversation.
  • Facial Expression – Keep your face open and smiling without grinning. This indicates that you are open to communication and in a positive mindset.
  • Arms and Hands – Use a firm but non-aggressive handshake. Don’t touch your face, and don’t cross your arms.
  • Eye Contact – Maintain good eye contact with all interviewers in the room, do not focus on just one person. Make sure you give your attention to the person asking the question. Putting all your attention on the senior staff member in the room gives off a bad vibe.

8. Dress to reflect

If in doubt look at their website and reflect what you see.  It’s acceptable to ask the contact at the business how they expect employees to dress.

9.  Interview the interviewer

Think of a few questions that fill in any blanks you might have about the company or the role.

For example:

  • If I was starting a week from today, what project would I be involved in?
  • Can you tell me more about the team I would be joining?
  • What are the company’s progression plans for this year/next year?
  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • How could I impress you in the first three months?
  • What is it that you like about working for this company?
  • What kind of training do you offer?

We are always pleased to discuss interview techniques, so please give us a call if you have any questions.

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