The First Interview – Have you done your Due Diligence?

The First Interview – Have you done your Due Diligence?

The First Interview

Now that you have secured the first interview, it is important that you properly prepare for and make the most of it. This is your opportunity to understand yourself so you can make a strong impression as well as investigate your potential employer to ensure you make an intelligent decision about the job.

Our experience shows that most candidates do little preparation for the interview process. Prior to the interview, some will look up the company or firm website and ask a few questions at interview. But it isn’t just candidates that fail to investigate properly. Employers don’t usually check out candidates very carefully either. Diligence is typically lacking on both sides of the decision making process.

So, what does it mean to conduct a proper due diligence prior to an interview? We have some simple suggestions that we have developed which will significantly increase your chances of success


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If there was an Ad which you responded to, review it or any other information you have on the position and determine what it demands and the key characteristics they are looking for. Think about how your experience fits in with the position.

Aside from checking out the website for general information on the employer and the interviewers, check out any recent articles or press releases. You can do this by conducting a wider search on the website or call the marketing department for recent literature. Be prepared to tell the interviewer why their firm/company is attractive to you.

Make sure you know your CV inside and out – there should be nothing in it that you cannot talk about in detail. Be ready to expand on any decisions you have made on study and previous career moves as well as account for any gaps.

At an interview, you will need to confidently talk about your key achievements and responsibilities so you can never be too familiar with the work you have done in your current and previous roles.

Honestly assess your employment background and develop explanations for any weak points. Prepare a list of tough questions that may be asked then develop answers to those questions.

Most questions are aimed at finding out if you have the qualities sought. Support your answers with specific examples to open ended or complex questions. Think of issues such as “Why are you considering a change at this time?”, “What are your strengths, weaknesses?”, What do you like most/least about your current role?”, What appeals to you about this role” and “What makes you a good candidate for the role?”

Athletes prepare for competition through visualization and many great feats of history have been accomplished first through visualization. In preparing for the interview, go through the motions in your mind and anticipate the questions which may be asked.

Visualise yourself as confident and self-assured. Not cocky, just confident of who you are and the benefit you can provide the employer. Play the part and visualize your success. It works!

Be sensitive to the style of the interviewer/s and be aware of their body language and nonverbal clues. Maintain eye contact at all times and try to develop a sense of your interviewer’s reception of you i.e. when your smile brings about a smile from the interviewer. Do your best to stay connected with your interviewer, both verbally and nonverbally.

Finally, be aware of your own voice. Your pace and tone all contribute to your success in an interview so make sure your pace is comfortable for your interviewer and your tone expresses enthusiasm and energy.

The interviewer is trying to see how you can contribute to the company/firm. Conduct yourself with confidence and determination to get the job. Express confidence in your own abilities and back this up by giving indicators of good performance and include short stories involving challenges and how you were able to overcome them.

You must NOT seem disinterested or appear to be lacking confidence in your own abilities. Don’t expect the interviewer to tell you why you are right for the job – that’s your job!

You will need to stand out from other candidates and be ready to differentiate yourself and show your competitive advantage. Don’t forget about your competition – you need to know and understand your greatest strengths in relation to them.

It is all well and good to have the technical ability, but it is meaningless unless matched with application and the drive and desire to succeed in the role. Use words such as “positive attitude”, “excellence”, and “striving to be my best” in your interview language. Then provide practical examples of how you have shown commitment and motivation in the past.

Show the interviewer when, where and how you have put forth extra effort above and beyond the call of duty, beat a deadline, excelled in a project. Attitude is everything and will determine whether you will “make the cut” or be rejected.

If you like what you see make a positive statement about the position. If you are sincerely interested in the role and you are satisfied with the answers given, you should conclude by asking “I’m interested in being a part of your team, what is the next step?”

On the day of the interview, make sure you arrive between 5 and 10 minutes early. This will give you time to collect your thoughts and a chance to read brochures and press releases at reception. Also, listening to the receptionists and watching the comings and goings can provide a valuable insight into the type of firm/company you might be joining.

Ensure you greet your interviewer with a strong but not overbearing handshake and a natural smile. Finally, relax and enjoy the meeting!