Five tips to get your interview strategy right

Finding the right job starts with a good interview.

Finding the right job starts with a good interview.

The job you want is within your grasp and all you have to do is get through the interview. To make sure that you are best placed to get yourself to the front of the queue there are five things that you can do:

1. Do research on the company by:

  • Accessing the company website. This will provide you with an overview of the business operation, divisional structure, management team profiles and the annual report if it is a listed company. You can also
  • Drawing on other information on the web including news articles and profile pieces that will give you further insights as to the company’ operation and business strategy. It pays to be cautious as some information may be open to question at best or mischievous at worst so always ensure the source is reliable
  • Contacting friends and former colleagues who are or have worked in the company but it pays to not take the word of one person alone particularly if they give you  negative feedback as this may reflect a bad experience that may not be the fault of the company

2. Learn as much about the role as you can through: 

The position description

The position description is an important source of information as it will provide you with information on the company, the role and candidate requirements. It should address the purpose and main responsibilities of the role and set out the management function and reporting lines along with key stakeholders, key results areas, business unit strategy, candidate requirements (knowledge, skills experience and qualifications and personal traits).

Talking to people who have the same or similar roles

Often it is useful to talk to people who are working or have worked in a like role as they will be able to provide you with a view of their experience which may prove invaluable to you. Just make sure that there is a close similarity in the roles as otherwise you may gain an inaccurate view of the role for which you are in contention.

A mentor

If you have a mentor who has broad ranging industry experience they may be able to help you add another dimension to your information gathering process. Even if the mentor doesn’t have a detailed knowledge of the role or the company, they may be able to present you with additional questions you should be asking and/or refer you to someone that does know.

3. Be prepared for the interview

The interview is the make or break so it is important that you are able to position yourself as preferred candidate. To make an impression you need to not only be able to tell your story in terms of what you have achieved in your career coherently but be able to engage with the person you are being interviewed by. Most good interviewers will be well prepared and will have read over your CV. They will have a range of questions including those designed to draw out your behavioural responses. You need to treat the interview as a discussion focusing on pertinent role and company related questions and be prepared to answer questions succinctly providing clear examples where possible.

4. Avoid interview traps

I have seen good candidates fail at interview and this has been mainly due to lack of preparation. There are a number of interview traps that you should be aware of:

  • Familiarity with the interviewer
  • Hesitancy in answering questions and not being able to directly address an issue raised by the interviewer
  • Not being able to answer questions coherently and succinctly
  • Big noting yourself

5. Make sure the interview is a conversation

The best interviews are conversations where the interplay between the candidate and the interviewer is not constrained and there is a level of rapport between them. This can make for an environment where rather than curt and dried questions and answers there is free-flowing discussion that can cover off issues in more depth and illicit candidate responses that are often broader in context and provide more insight in to their abilities and their motivations.

Thorough planning of your interview strategy will provide you a framework and the requisite tools to ensure you are in the best possible position to not only take away all the information that you require to make a decision as to whether the role is for you, but position you as the preferred candidate.


Peter Dawson, Principal, The Dawson Partnership

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