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How to Prepare for an Interview

July 16, 2020
Gareth Whyatt

As a recruitment agency, the quality of interviews is something that has always been important to us. The success rate of an interview is critical to us – it solidifies the fact that we are continuing to align clients and candidates successfully.

The truth is, that when it comes to interviews (and interviews with positive outcomes in particular), preparation will always be critical. When recruiting for the food industry, consumer trends are ever-evolving, meaning food manufacturers must be responsive and adapt quickly – giving candidates lots to absorb before the interview.

Below we have compiled some areas to guide you through preparing for an interview, empowering you to be confident when providing well-researched and captivating answers to the questions put to you.


Drill down into the job description

Take time to pick apart the job description line by line. In doing so, you will be able to recognise where your skills, achievements, vision, and ability are aligned with the role, demonstrating to the interviewer you will exceed expectations.

When it comes to the list of responsibilities or requirements for the position, a helpful exercise is to prepare supporting evidence of similar tasks you have executed or results you’ve achieved. As well as giving clarity and highlighting your ability to the hiring party, it reminds you that you have had successes and overcome barriers before. You are aware of what it takes to be successful in the new position.

Try to compile a list of around five pieces of supporting evidence to present to the interviewer.


Get absorbed in the employers’ website

You have an opportunity to learn about the business’ service offering, along with the history of the company, the team, and perhaps most importantly, the brand.

By taking the time to get to know their brand, you will begin to understand how the business perceives itself, positions itself in the market and how the business differentiates from competitors. Whether they are that much different isn’t the point here, it’s how they THINK they are different.

Why is this useful? By undertaking this activity, you can reflect your comprehensive understanding of the business in your answers, making them more contextually relevant.


Become an investigative journalist

You have a chance to widen your knowledge and understanding of the employer’s business even further.

Upon typing the business name into Google, choose the ‘news’ tab at the top of the search results page. You will be supplied with articles and news features such as press releases from the business, providing you with an insight into the level of growth and business achievements. This search may also supply you with thought-leadership articles from people within the company, shining a light on the company vision.  You may also find information that details more unsavoury news articles – all of this detail gives you the full picture.

Review the business’ employer brand, using websites such as Glassdoor or looking at the current employee’s LinkedIn accounts. You will usually be able to sense a strong team spirit and culture from employees that are publicly championing the business.


Research commonly asked interview questions

Your experience up until this point likely means you can make an educated guess about the type of interview questions you might face.

Questions such as: Tell me about yourself, or why are you interested in this position? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why are you looking to leave your current job?

Once you have compiled a list of common interview questions, you can set about considering how to answer them. Undertaking this activity means that you can rehearse complete and thoughtful answers that address each of the items. Rehearsing them also means they are easily retrievable in your mind.

In doing so, you won’t have to think on the fly, kicking yourself later on for forgetting relevant information, potentially losing out to another candidate that has rehearsed their answers.

If you have used a recruitment agency, you could ask for guidance and direction based on their experience with the employer and in the industry.


 Identify what it is you are most nervous about

Nervousness and anxiety can be damaging in an interview. By identifying and addressing what it is that makes you feel so nervous, you can create a plan for how you will react and handle your response.

If there are questions asked around reasons for leaving a previous job that you are uncomfortable with, demonstrate that you take accountability in your response. Include details of what you have learned from the situation and any changes that you have put in place to ensure you highlight personal growth and development.

By facing the parts of an interview that make you tense before the event, you have an opportunity to take control of the situation and frame your answers confidently, and in a positive light.


Compile a list of personal values and workplace non-negotiables

This is an exercise that will help you to understand the type of business culture, environment, and support that you require from your employer to feel motivated and inspired.

Take some time to think about what you would like from your employer to experience true job satisfaction, and what you have encountered in previous jobs that made you unhappy or happy.

For instance, are regular performance reviews vital to you? Do expect a culture of responsibility and accountability from everyone in the business, including the senior team? Do you value excellent communication? Do you need an emphasis on creating a great work-life balance?

You must understand how aligned the company is with your values. By creating a list, you can ask questions in the interview that allow you to decide if this is the company that will bring you said satisfaction.


Create questions of your own

As the interview draws to a close, the hiring party will allow you to ask questions.

Just like the above segment, this is an opportunity to figure out if this is a business that you would like to be employed by – this doesn’t need to be as a last-ditch attempt to make a good impression.

Ask probing questions about the job at hand, such as:

  • What does success look like in this position?
  • What will be expected of you in the first 12 months?
  • How is success measured?
  • What training is provided?
  • What is the growth plan for the business for the next three to five years?
  • What are the challenges faced in this role, and by the business currently?
  • What does an average week look like for someone in this position?

The answers will provide a complete picture of the role, enabling you to make an informed decision in continuing to pursue this position.

If you are working with a recruitment agency, ask if you can run these questions by them and see if they can offer further advice.


Fill in the gaps

If you have any gaps in your career in which you were out of work, moved jobs frequently or perhaps took a step ‘down’, be prepared to answer questions.

Hiring a new member of staff is a big financial investment for a business. The hiring manager will be wanting to protect that investment by employing someone that will offer longevity and stability as well as drive results.

Prepare honest, transparent and detailed answers that empower the interviewer to make an informed decision. Becoming flustered and overwhelmed could give a bad impression and instil doubt.


Remember first impressions count

A first impression is formed within seven seconds of meeting someone, and it only takes a tenth of a second for an individual to determine if you are trustworthy or not.

With this in mind, it’s easy to understand the importance of dressing smartly, offering a firm handshake, making eye contact and smiling throughout the interview.

This will give the interviewing party an indication that you are prepared, confident and able.


We hope you find this article useful. Some of us find interviews less daunting than others, but by preparing well ahead, you can take steps to put the nerves to rest and present yourself in the best light.

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About The Author

Gareth Whyatt

After 12 years’ experience within the industry predominantly focusing on Operations and Supply Chain, founding The Sterling Choice has provided me with the opportunity to take a step back and focus on my passion for developing people and teams! As the self-proclaimed Head of Training I love seeing people develop and grow through the recruitment ranks and ultimately achieving both their personal and business goals.

For me The Sterling Choice is all about fun, results and collective success

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