Everyday, thousands of interviews take place across the country. At this particular time of the year, university graduates are flooding the market and job boards with their CVs trying to secure their first jobs. Competition is stiff, and if you want to stand out in the crowd, you need to impress your prospective employer with more than just a fancy piece of paper.
While companies do look at your credentials, and take marks into consideration, a good chunk of the final decision comes down to soft skills and company fit, i.e., do you match the organization’s culture and values? Interviews are part of what determines that equation. Interviews are your chance to shine and show them who you are, and what you’re like to work with on a day-to-day basis. Looking good on paper is only one piece of the puzzle, so before you set off, CV in hand, here are some reminders of how to give yourself the edge over your competition and clinch the postion.
Know thy Employer and Know More Than the Next Guy
This goes without saying, but do your research about the company. Before you jump online and start memorising random bits of information from the company website, dig a little deeper. Every other candidate will be doing the same thing. Knowing how many people work there, what they sell, or what their services are is just a starting point. Were they recently in the news? What are they posting on sites like LinkedIn? Do they have a blog and if so, what does it talk about? Are they global? Who is their target consumer/client? Check their Glass Door page; what are former employees saying about them? Formulate a couple of questions about the company that show your interest. Taking that extra step to go above and beyond the typical candidate could give you the edge necessary to impress the interviewer and get the job.
Know Why You’re There
Are you here to get a job? So are the three other nervous candidates sitting in reception waiting to be called in. Everyone knows that. “Know why you’re there” means having an answer for why you’re interested in not just in the company, but in the industry. What made you decide to pursue a career in digital marketing? What aspect of digital interests you most? Are you looking to work in PPC? Are you a consummate salesman? Are you fascinated by analytics? Be prepared to share why you want to be there and what excites you about this industry. Employers want people who are passionate and want to be there for more than just a paycheque.
Take Copies of Your CV, Portfolio, and References
Yes, the interviewer probably has a copy of your CV, and yes, they probably will have one at the interview. However, they may not have had time to print it out, or they may forget, so always bring a copy. Make the decision process easy for your interviewer; if you come prepared with your CV, work portfolio ready (if applicable), and references in hand, this small effort shows them you’re organised and on the ball. It’s often the little things that help seal the deal.
Digital is often a casual environment, and you will be job hunting over the summer holidays, but you still need to put your best foot forward for interviews. This certainly doesn’t mean you have to wear a suit, but “business casual”, and a neatly groomed appearance goes a long way. Don’t make assumptions; check out the company website and see what employees are wearing. Take your cues from there and set the bar a little higher for interview day. Leave the flip flops, Batman t-shirt, and ripped jeans at home.
The Golden Don’ts
There are a few universal Golden Rules when it comes to interviews:
Don’t be late. Ever. There is no excuse for being late to an interview in this day and age of travel apps and maps that can tell you 15 different routes to take, and how long it will take you to get there. Plan to arrive ten minutes early and build in time for any traffic or transport delays. If it says it’s a 30 minute journey, build in 45 minutes for contingencies. Nothing puts off potential employers more than a late candidate, and for many, it lands your CV straight in the bin.
Turn off Your Mobile Phone. Not on vibrate, or silent, just off. Buzzing, flashing notifications are distracting and signal to the employer that their time isn’t as important as your latest tweet. This is a no-brainer but, apparently, still needs to be said.
Don’t Ask About Money Definitely ask about company culture, and questions pertaining to the role, but save the chat about money for when an offer is on the table. Talking about salary off the bat makes you look like that’s all you’re interested in – and while compensation is an important piece in your final decision, it should factor in once you have established that the interest is mutual and you’re likely receive an offer of employment.
Digital Marketing is a fast-paced, and exciting world. Enjoy the journey and good luck!