Before attending an interview, it's important to define your goals and objectives ahead of meeting with a potential employer
This article focuses on the experience of recruitment consultants in working with candidates before interviews, and how important it is to define your goals and objectives when meeting with a potential employer.
Moving jobs can be a stressful time for most people as they are heading into the unknown. You will be stepping away from your comfort zone of walking into your current office where you are respected by colleagues (hopefully) and you know your job and what is expected of you. Suddenly you are putting your name out there and are now in a position where you will need to sell your skills, experience and personality to someone you have never met. Often this uncomfortable feeling will lead to nerves and it can often change the mindset of how someone approaches their search and how well they perform at interview.
When speaking with candidates in preparation for interviews, I often find that two out of three candidates are unable to define their key objectives. Most people are good at explaining what they need to get across in the meeting and what they want to learn about the company but they are unable to clearly define what they want this to lead to. The main answers I receive when asking “What do you feel are the two key objectives for you when attending an interview?” are as follows:
There are many more (some too ridiculous to mention), but the above are the main ones. As you will see, the responses have been split into two categories; the first are about impressing the interviewer and the second set are aligned to finding out more information on the company.
I will often hear: “The interview is a two-way process. The company need to sell themselves to me so that I want to work for them”.
It’s hard to disagree with this and I will always speak with my clients before an interview and recommend that they do sell the opportunity as we are working in what many would class as a “candidate-led market” where there are often more opportunities being advertised than readily available candidates that are looking to make a move. In this case, candidates have more than one option to consider so clients should be selling the opportunity, whilst also trying to gain an understanding of the persons skills and experience and suitability for the role.
From a candidate perspective, the client selling the role to you is important and it’s great for you to feel the love, but it is also a two-way process for the client, so it is more important that you identify and align your objectives in the correct order to ensure you get the best out of the interview.
Objective number one: GET THE JOB!
Objective number two: Gather information to decide if the opportunity is right for you
Obvious, right? In plain sight, it is but it’s very rare that people come to this conclusion straight away and will often order them in the wrong way. I sometimes hear, “what’s the point in being offered a role I don’t particularly want?” This is a fair point but unfortunately, it is very difficult to come to this decision until you have met with the firm, and it can unfortunately lead to an unsuccessful and disappointing outcome.
Prioritising them in the right order will hopefully leave you in a position of control. If you lose this control, then ultimately you could lose it as an option. It is much better to be in control and have more than one offer of employment on the table. Once a firm has made the decision that you will add value to their business and they want to employ you, we now have more leverage to go back and ask further questions to assist you in determining, “is this role right for me?”!
Candidates should also consider how much time they spend in an interview asking questions. This could be your only chance to sell yourself to the firm and they may have other candidates under consideration. There is nothing worse than not being offered a role purely because you were unable to tell them about something they needed to know to make a positive decision. Asking good quality questions about the role, the firm and the overall opportunity is a key part of the interview but most of your time should focus on providing reasons as to why you are the best candidate for the position, rather than, “are you the best company for me?”. You will have the option to ask any further questions at the end of the meeting and again, greater leverage to ask further questions once an employer has offered you a position and wants you to join the team.
It is also very natural for people to have pre-conceived ideas about firms and often candidates will start to rank opportunities in order of preference before they have even met with a firm. Reasons behind this can be any of the following:
It is very difficult to move away from pre-conceived ideas and preferences as we are all humans and whilst they can sometimes be positive, the problem of holding preconceived notions as being true is that they can also lead us to very negative and critical beliefs that can also affect behaviours and how well you perform in an interview.
This is something that most recruitment consultants discuss with every candidate they work with, and it’s amazing how many times people will change their mind about a firm and where it sits in their order of preference once they have met with them.
Put yourself in the position of this happening to you. You have met with a firm that has shown interest in you joining and you have now decided that you really want to work for them, this is the job you have been dreaming about. If you knew this before the interview, in what order would you have arranged your objectives? Are you now worried that you won’t be offered the job? Have you done enough to be offered the job?
By clearly defining your objectives and putting them in the right order, you should have prepared extremely well for this interview and done everything you can to achieve an offer. If an offer comes then you have hopefully reached both of your objectives successfully – WELL DONE TO YOU. If an offer doesn’t come, you have only successfully met one objective of deciding that the firm is right for you, but unfortunately, you have not done enough to be offered the dream role and objective number two now becomes irrelevant!
It is so important that you do your best to remain in control so again your focus and number one objective of going to an interview should always be:
Get the job and then decide afterwards if you want it!
For advice about your career path, speak to Levitate Recruitment, specialists in placing practice-trained accountants and insolvency professionals across the UK, and find the right role to suit your ambitions.