Prepare For Interview

The recruitment process is notoriously nerve-racking – particularly at senior level where the stakes are high and competition is fierce. Lisa Forrest (Head of Internal Talent Acquisition, at recruitment specialists Alexander Mann Solutions) explains to IAM Manager how to get ready for the big day. 

The rise of the sophisticated jobseeker, who has high expectations of how an employer brand should engage with them, and who is as adept as researching organisations as rehearsing interview scenarios, has encouraged employers to raise the bar in terms of interview process. However, there are still steps you can take to maximise your chances of success. 

You should, of course, prepare for any interview by thoroughly researching the potential employer and forming a clear idea of what you are able to offer them. If you are working with an internal or embedded executive search specialist, they will be able to provide you with useful background – such as interview dynamics and dress code – before you even set foot in the door. If you know anyone who currently works at the company, or has done previously, ask for some frank feedback. It can be valuable to have a first-hand account to complement the exhaustive online fact-finding that you will no-doubt be undertaking. 

You’re A Star! 

Enter the interview armed with a handful of examples of professional achievements, and be ready to discuss these in detail in terms of strategy, perspective, evaluation and the impact on the company’s bottom line. Answers to competency based questions can be given structure with the STAR acronyms; outline the Situation, Task, Action and Result. 

If you are asked an unexpected question, think it over briefly and answer to the best of your ability – be sure to explain the thinking behind your reply. The capability to be able to challenge, solve or even deflect problems is an essential skill in the workplace, and hirers may try to catch you off-guard to judge how you are likely to behave in stressful situations in the future. Remember to be confident in your capabilities – the fact you have secured an interview indicates that you have impressed with you application so far so take some deep breaths before you go in to help stay cool and shake off any nerves. 

Skill Sets 

According to a recent report by Forbes Magazine, nearly half (46 per cent) of executive hires fail within 18 months. As frightening as this statistic is, the really insightful and helpful number is this; only 11 per cent of these executives fail because of their technical ability or due to the lack of the required skill set. What this says to me is that firms are adept at hiring against a skill set; interviewers are rarely making mistakes in hiring people that can’t actually do the job. Where the executive fails in by far the majority of cases it is down to their ability to do the job in that particular environment and culture. 

Be Authentic

With this in mind, it is essential that you are relaxed and authentic throughout the interview process. Never wear a mask that will inevitably slip later down the line. Technical ability can be taught, but core competencies and charisma cannot – and personality and cultural fit are essential to successful placements. It is also essential that you embrace the interview stage as an investigative opportunity. Use it as a platform to ask pertinent questions – whether that be what the organisation’s CSR policy is, or if there will be the opportunity to work internationally further down the line. Remember an interview process is a two-way-street, and it’s better if you find out sooner rather than later if this is not the golden opportunity you have been waiting for. 

And finally, don’t forget the obvious; avoid alcohol and get plenty of rest the night before, be well presented and arrive early – and smile. This could be the beginning of the next step in your management career. 

What are your thoughts on preparing for an Interview? 

Let us know on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. There are free webinars available for IAM members – you can access them on the IAM portal, or, if you would like to participate in a live Q&A session – keep an eye on our events page. 


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