In a competitive market, it can be extremely difficult to land your dream job as there are so many applicants for each role. In fact, we recently heard that 1,701 people applied for only eight vacancies with Costa Coffee, and a similar situation is being seen across the board. So, after perfecting your CV and landing an interview, it’s fundamental to stand out from the crowd and be ready for any questions your prospective employer may throw at you.
This isn’t always easy though, and candidates can often struggle at the interview stage if they haven’t prepared in the right way. To help address this, our Team Leader of Communications, Sally Ingram, took part in a live Guardian Q&A this week, responding to jobseekers’ questions and offering top tips for interview success. The session – which took place from 1-3 pm on Tuesday – discussed topics including how best to prepare for interviews, how to approach tough questions, common mistakes to avoid, and how to stand out from the crowd.
One individual taking part in the Q&A hadn’t had an interview since 2007 and wanted to know how best to prepare. As Sally highlighted, the key is to find out as much as possible about the role, company and team. Areas to research include what they’re looking for in a candidate, what their expectations of an employee are, and how important cultural/personality fit is to them. Any information that you are unable to find out prior to the interview can be used as a prompt for questions to ask on the day, and you can adjust your responses accordingly.
Another question that came up was related to pay. The individual was curious as to whether, if asked about their salary expectations during an interview, they should state a little more than they thought would be offered in case there was a chance of it being raised. Sally responded by stressing that it’s always important to be honest about your current salary – if you’ve been honest from the outset, it’s a lot easier to negotiate. Also, if it comes to light that you were not 100% truthful in the first instance, you may be rejected from the shortlist anyway.
At the end of an interview, the employer will often ask if the applicant has any questions. In the Q&A, one candidate asked the panel what kind of questions they would be looking for. Sally suggested that it’s always good to find out why the interviewer decided to join that company. She also pointed out that asking for immediate feedback there and then not only demonstrates that you’re not afraid to ask difficult questions but also gives you an idea as to where you stand.
If you have an interview coming up and are interested in seeing further questions and responses, the Q&A stream can be seen here. We wish you the best of luck!