How to ace that interview  

So, you’ve secured the Interview- now the fun begins. Preparation is KEY, so what should happen next?

  1. Thoroughly research the company, know the competitors and the industry. That doesn’t just mean looking at the company website- that is a minimum and people that do the minimum rarely win the day. Dig deeper- check out their social channels for up to date info, an insight into the values of the business, the type of people that work there, the perception in the market- LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Industry magazines etc. It’s more impressive to quote a recent, relevant press release that you’ve seen on their social channels, than recite when they were established etc that you’ve read on the website.


  1. In your company research, phone them, what if any company literature is available? Chat to the person on reception (get their name), ask them what it’s like to work there, what the managers are like, what they like/dislike about the business, how long they’ve been there etc. The gatekeeper can be the key to you acquiring great inside knowledge and if you make a good impression, that could get back to the hiring manager before they’ve even met you. Then, when you go to the interview, you’ll probably meet the gatekeeper, you can continue to build that rapport, thanking them for the documents they sent and again there is a strong chance that positive interaction will be reported back to the recruiting manager (who will often ask the gatekeeper what their 1st impressions were of each candidate that came into reception). The company literature/documents can then be brought out of your bag/briefcase, alongside your CV and notebook and before you’ve said a word, you’re creating a strong first impression.


  1. Thoroughly research the person that is interviewing you (check out their LinkedIn profile), know their background, perhaps you have shared connections that you can name drop into your interview. Check out the backgrounds of other people that work in the business and are at the level that you’re applying for. Look for commonality there. What are they posting about- that can again give you a competitive edge.


  1. Does the company sell their products through stockists/merchants/distributors? If so, go and do a SWOT analysis by visiting 2 or 3 distributors, find out what those distributors like/dislike about the products or business. Again, this gives you a competitive advantage/insight, which you can bring up at the interview. If they sell to contractors, end users, specifiers, local authorities etc, then use your current network (you’ll have professional connections that are like friends and ask them what they know about the company that you are meeting, plus their likes/dislikes about their products/service.)


So you’ve found out about them, but how are you going to best present yourself as a Sales professional?


  1. Know your key career successes, the value that you could bring to your next employer, strengths etc, by conducting a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity and Threat) on yourself. Put together a brag file that you could use at the interview, to demonstrate your depth of contacts in the relevant routes to market that you’ll be selling to if you were to secure the job. Know your story- What are your 3 big achievements in each company that you’ve worked for, do you have testimonials/reference letters/emails that can back up your claims. Do you know your numbers? What were your targets, what did you achieve? Having all of this prepared will demonstrate your credibility as a successful sales professional. Past performance is a fair indicator of future performance and recruiting managers will be looking for candidates that can ACHIEVE for their business.


  1. Have pre-prepared questions written out. Do not try and wing it and make up questions as you go. Preparation is EVERYTHING! These questions should cover the role, what a typical day and week would look like, how you’ll be measured, what training and support you’d receive, what are the backgrounds of others in the team, what does the recruiting manager look for in a candidate, what did they like in your CV that encouraged them to meet you, what is the recruitment process, who is involved, what attracted them to the business, what has kept them there etc? (Call us on 01737 452030 and we’ll talk through a comprehensive list with you).


  1. Be prepared for behavioural questions, such as tell me about a time when? And situational questions such as what would you do if? Again, if you know your successes, what you did to achieve them, the obstacles that you overcame etc, then these type of behavioural and situational questions shouldn’t phase you.


  1. If you are attending a physical face to face interview, call in advance, find out what the parking situation is, or if travelling by public transport, what the closest options to the office are and journey plan, so that you are in reception 10 minutes before your interview. If you are late, you have a mountain to climb, if you turn up too early, you put the interviewer under undue pressure. Stay standing in reception, engage with the receptionist (hopefully they are the person that you spoke with when you phoned for the company brochure and extra inside info when doing your interview prep.) If the interview is Virtual by Video, make sure that you have your lighting sorted, that the surroundings are looking as professional as possible, that you have your head and shoulders in shot, that the camera is looking square on and not up your nose, that the volume is at the right level and that you’ll not be disturbed.


  1. Engage the interviewer with energy and enthusiasm and build quick rapport by perhaps noticing something in reception that creates a talking point (company awards, trophies, pictures of sport etc). If via video link, give a few moments to build rapport and get your personality and enthusiasm across the camera.


  1. Listen, ask great questions, show positive body language and qualify at the end of the interview their thoughts on you and what happens next- further interview/offer etc? (Call us on 01737 452030 and we’ll go through how best to close).


  1. Enjoy the experience. If you’re feeling nervous on the day of the interview reposition it in your mind as excitement as both excitement and anxiety involve the same chemical process in the brain. Wear a smile, as well as the appropriate professional dress code! Visualise a positive outcome, be on your A-game and if you’ve given it your best shot, then fate will dictate. Whatever the outcome, you can learn from the experience.


  1. If you are keen to progress, you must tell them on the day, qualify their thoughts on you, overcome any concerns that they may have and ask the direct question regarding either being offered the job, or being asked back for a further interview. If you want the job, ask for it! It is professional to send the interviewer a follow up email inside 24 hours, thanking them for their time and reiterating your interest in the opportunity.



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