6 ways to perfect your interview technique "A client's perspective"

Having been in the industry for over 20 years and probably sitting through countless numbers of interviews during that time, I considered myself a somewhat seasoned interviewer and someone who can give advice on what makes a successful interview or at least what I am always looking out for.
What makes a good CV
So, to start from the beginning, the CV!  There is nothing worse than reading a long-jumbled CV with spelling mistakes or poor presentation and what to my mind can be seen as filler text. When reviewing CVs my first inclination is to ferret out those CVs which include a spotty job history and wax lyrical about previous jobs. The only jobs I am really interested in is the last two! Again, as much as I am keen to know that the candidate has initiative and a good work ethic, I don’t really need to know about the paper round that they did when they were 15.
Arranging the interview
Once I have managed to whittle the CVs down to say two or three I am ready to interview and speak to the recruitment agent. Over time I have found that working with one or two good recruitment agent makes the process easier. The relationship is key when you are under time pressure and they know what you are looking for.  Sometimes a CV can’t say what a simple conversation can.  I have been known to reject a CV having spoken to the agent who knows what I am looking for and vice versa when I have been drawn to a CV, but the agent knows there is no way that the candidate is going to be a good fit.
After confirming choices it’s all down to setting a date for the interview and for once I don’t think there is any need to follow the rules – if you are looking to leave your job then make the time to go to an interview, rather than offering before work or after work- there is always someone who will make the time to attend during working hours and although they may not be the better candidate, they could be the one who is in the right time, at the right place. 
How early is early?
So, the interview itself, don’t turn up too early.  It is not impressive; your interviewer is taking time out of their working day to see you and most likely will have worked their schedule around it.  Arriving early puts them under time pressure with their other appointments and can sometimes lead to divided focus when you are being interviewed, meaning that their first impression is not their best impression. To my mind arrive no earlier than 10 minutes as it shows you as being punctual but considerate of your interviewer’s time.
Dress to impress
Now that you have a little extra time, use that to ensure that you look the part.  Your appearance is key to any interview and there are hundreds of studies about how someone’s mind is made up about a person within the first few minutes of meeting.  Although one of my most successful interviews was when I turned up with a moulting scarf because I was able to make light of it, I wouldn’t recommend it. 
Always look professional, neat and clean, remember your employer will be considering how you will be representing the company and dirty hair, broken nails or hanging hems won’t enhance the brand.  Coco Chanel once said that before you leave the house, remove the last thing you put on (admittedly she was talking about jewellery) and in this case when going for an interview look at yourself and think “would you hire you to represent your company?” A company’s biggest advertisement is the people who work for them.
Handling the interview
Having gone through all these hurdles, it is time to discuss the actual interview itself.  For me, and I can’t and won’t speak for others, I am not interested in stock answers as to how you deal with a text book issue so reciting the rule book won’t work.
I am looking for where a candidate has gone over and above in a tricky situation, someone who works out what the best outcome can be and can tell me and probably most importantly has the courage of their convictions.  I am also looking for someone who knows how to get on with people at all levels and who is able to create long term relationships which will ultimately benefit the clients.
Wrapping it up
So after having submitted the right CV, got to the interview stage, worn the right clothes and given good answers, not stock ones, what do you do when the interviewer is concluding the interview?  In all honesty, the interviewer knows you are dying to ask what the working hours are, what the salary is and what holiday you will be entitled to and a good interviewer will make you aware of this if they are interested in taking it further. You shouldn't ask them, this is something to ask your agent.
If they haven’t mentioned it, then they are probably not interested in moving forward but if they have, don’t ask an obscure question about the website. It does not make you look like you are interested in the company it just shows you can view a website. Far better, is to let the interviewer know you are interested, ask them who you would be working with, what work you would be involved in and possibly what, if any role can you take on in the company in order to help grow the company. 
In conclusion, for me at least, an interview is about getting to know a candidate, assessing how they are going to get on with the team and the clients and most importantly knowing that if they are happy working with you they will do their best for your company.  The interviewees who always stand out to me are the ones who are genuinely interested in the company and what they can do within it to make it a bigger success.
Article by: Sarah Fisher, Director at MIH Property Management


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