I'd like to think that my role in HR and my blogging hobby means that I have a nice mish-mash of skills that I can share with you in the event that you are looking for advice.

One such topic is interviewing! I have interviewed and been the interviewee many times and my blogging past time means that I often attend events where I am forced out of my comfort zone and have to chat away to people who I have never met before, or speak to brands in a professional manner.

Now, I must stress that this isn't always natural for me to do. I am much better at it these days but please don't feel as though you are a helpless cause if you don't find interviews or networking easy!

Let's get into how you can make this easier on yourself - picture the scene, you've sent your application and receive the call or email that you've made it to the next stage, the interview.

Pre-Interview Prep

I do think this initial preparation can make the most difference in terms of how at ease you feel once you are face to face with your interviewer.

The one thing I think most important is to do your research which will seem obvious but really is massively important. I once turned up to an interview which granted was in amongst loads of other interviews I had and I was blasé and thought oh I will wing it. Spoiler Alert: You can hardly EVER wing something like that.

When the nerves kicked in and I was sat in their reception I was thinking to myself 'you are an idiot as you will not be able to answer what do you know about us' and luckily there was information in the reception area that meant I was able to quickly hash something together. Since then, I have never done that again.

The moral of that story is to do your home work. Ask your recruiter who is interviewing you and what format the interview is in? Informal chat/competency based/panel/technical, all of this will help you in your preparation.

I like to look up who is interviewing me on linked in, it gives you a flavour of their career in the company and elsewhere and potentially give you some common ground to talk about. It can also give you an insight into how likely the company is to promote from within.

I also (perhaps controversially!) think you can do too much preparation if you have stock answers or examples which you can feel pressure to spout off like a script rather than listening to the question and tailoring your answer.

Always be prepared however to answer the following questions as it is highly likely that you will be asked them;
1.What do you know about us?
2.Tell us a bit about yourself?
3.Why do you want to work here/in this role?
4.Where do you think your development areas are?

The Interview

First of all, try your hardest to not be late and if you are by some reason out of your hands going to be late then make sure you do your best to get in touch!

Be comfortable but smart. You can never really go wrong with assuming a smart dresscode - read my interview dress tips in collaboration with Reed here.

Relax! You have made it this far so you have interested the potential employer, have faith in your achievements and skills and remember that this is as much an opportunity for you to decide if you want to work there aswell.

In terms of telling your interviewer a bit about yourself, naturally they will have read your CV, it isn't an opportunity to trip you up but it gives you a window to sound enthusiastic about your previous role or career path in general. I'd also keep it concise, they don't need the ins and outs of your career history but I would start with your last/most recent role give a quick overview, mention the industries you have worked in and perhaps what you enjoy doing in your spare time.

If your recruiter has highlighted the type of interview you are having, this is where the preparation pays off. Most places will do competency based interviewing and all that is, is to assess your suitability against what they feel are integral parts of the role or the company values. You will often be given this in the job description so be sure to try and pick out those main themes and centre your answers around those key words.

Answering questions within a competency based interview can be centred around a project or activity you have been involved with and it can feel like there is loads of information you could share. STAR is your friend here, STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. They want to hear what YOU did aswell so blow your trumpet and talk about what you did specifically. I think one of the best tips I have also found is that you really shouldn't feel that every example you give is super positive and as though you are conquering the world. Answers can be that unfortunately things didn't go your way but that you changed your approach etc, there were budget constraints - you can still have done a fantastic job even if things didn't turn out as expected.

Scenario based or technical interviews can feel difficult as you do have to make certain assumptions about how things are carried out if they are dependent on policy/procedure rather than a specified way of doing things. But just try your best, sometimes the answer can be slightly off but if you understand how the person has reached the answer then it can still give you an idea of how they would perform.

The End of the Interview and Asking Questions

It always amazes me when people have no questions at the end of an interview - even if you say well the majority have been answered in your overview of the role/company etc, it is always worth understanding next steps and how quickly they are looking to appoint.

Also don't be afraid to ask any burning questions you have about the company, e.g. if there are development opportunities, what the priorities of the department/company over the next 5 years.

I'd hold off asking about money unless they ask you for your salary expectation specifically. It can feel awkward for the both of you and if you are dying to know the bracket if it hasn't been confirmed in the job advert then I would ask this before you interview via the recruiter.

And finally - be sure to end the interview by reiterating how much you want the job, you would be surprised how little people do this!

Good News :)

You got the job and the recruiter is calling to make you an offer - ensure you know all about what benefits are being offered as they form part of your package. A great salary can sometimes be accompanied with less than market rate benefits such as statutory holidays only. Not necessarily deal breakers but all worth considering.

This is also a time to negotiate - it is difficult to do, completely appreciate that but worth checking. It is much easier to do if you have a consultant to do this for you!

Bad News :(

Sometimes, despite a great interview, you just don't get the job. Try not to take it too personally and try and learn from it if you can. Always ask for feedback and if it's just a case of someone pipped you to the post then dust yourself off and try again!!

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