Your performance at job interviews can have quite an effect on your career.
Buckmaster Hawkey presents our Interview Guide – the perfect starting point for property industry candidates.
Preparation is key
All successful interview performances have one element in common – thorough preparation!
If you want to be the best, you should begin your preparation around one week before your interview to ensure your performance sets you apart.
At least three days before your interview, you should:
- Make sure you understand the job you’re applying for. Request a position description before the interview and read it.
- Make sure you’re certain of the exact address and time of the interview.
- Find out who will be interviewing you, including their title, correct name and the pronunciation of their name(s).
- Undertake some research on your interviewer on Google and LinkedIn. This may yield some valuable insights into their career and what they’re looking for in a prospective employee.
- Research their business. At a bare minimum you should know:
- The size of the business and where their offices are located.
- The services they offer and what comprises the majority or ‘core’ of their business.
- Who the Managing Director or Chief Executive Officer is.
- Information on their business growth, strategy and how they rate against their competitors.
At the interview, you will be expected to speak confidently and succinctly about yourself and your career. To help you do this, prepare a few short statements about yourself covering the following points:
- An ‘Elevator Statement’ – a 30 second introduction to you, your career and your career goals.
- A short summary of your previous positions, including your title, key responsibilities, how long you worked there and who you reported to.
- Your qualifications, year of graduation and why you studied for your qualifications.
Developing questions and answers for your interviewer
At your interview, the employer will want to find out some more information about you, your capabilities and whether you will fit into their team. You should prepare some answers to common questions asked at interviews, including:
- What do you like about working in property?
- Why do you want this position?
- What do you know about this company and our business aims?
- Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
- What style of management are you comfortable working under?
- If we were to ask your past employers about you, how would they describe you?
- Tell us about a time when you had a difficult situation at work. How did you resolve it?
- What have you learned from your career so far?
- Which job did you enjoy most? Why was that particular job enjoyable?
- Provide us with an example of an initiative you took in your last job?
- How do you spend your spare time? What are your hobbies?
Another important objective of the interview is for you to understand more about the employer, the workplace and the job on offer. Your interviewer will expect you to ask some questions to understand this information and to impress them with your interest in the position.
Some examples of questions you could ask your interviewer are:
- How has this position become available?
- How would you describe the culture of your company? Is it highly structured or does the firm allow employees to take the initiative?
- What types of employees have succeeded at your company?
- When employees succeed, are they promoted to a higher position?
- What are the company’s plans for the future?
- What are the next steps in the selection process?
The day of the interview
On the day of your interview you should start preparing before you leave home.
- Dress conservatively, preferably in darker colours. Most organisations will expect you to wear a business suit to an interview.
- Pay attention to all facets of your dress and grooming to ensure you look your best. Read our Buckmaster Hawkey ‘Dress for Success’ guide here.
- Bring an interview pack with you to your interview. This should contain:
- A hard copy of your resume.
- Examples of your work.
- Employment documents (such as qualifications, academic records, certificates, and a national police check if required).
- A copy of the position description.
- Photo identification.
- Ensure you arrive at the place of interview at least five minutes before it’s due to start.
- Ensure your mobile phone is switched off before you enter the reception area.
- Greet the receptionist politely, stating your name and the person you’re meeting with.
Attending an interview can make even the most experienced candidates a little nervous, but you shouldn’t worry.
The fact that you have been invited means the company thinks you might be the right person to be their next employee. They want to meet you and find out what you are capable of. They are not there to trip you up or embarrass you.
Employers use many different interviewing styles and some are more experienced than others. Regardless of whether they are formal or very casual in their manner, you should always be professional, polite and friendly in an interview. Keep in mind that they will want to establish your attitudes, motivation and maturity to ensure you are the right fit for their business.
Interview do’s and don’ts
- Neatly fill out and complete any forms you are presented with.
- Greet the interviewer by their honorific and surname (e.g. Ms Michell, Dr Lavin).
- Shake their hand firmly.
- Wait to be offered a chair before sitting.
- Be polite, courteous and friendly throughout the interview.
- If you are a little nervous, say so, but don’t dwell on it.
- Relax and smile at regular intervals.
- Be prepared to speak up when it’s your turn, but avoid interjecting.
- Sit upright and look alert and interested at all times.
- Listen carefully and look your interviewer in the eye when engaging them in conversation.
- If you have more than one interviewer, ensure you address each in turn.
- Follow the interviewer’s prompts, but try to get them to confirm the position’s duties early on. You should then relate your background and skills to the position.
- Always speak as if you are confident you will perform well in this job.
- Know your market value and ensure your Buckmaster Hawkey consultant knows your salary expectations. Be prepared to confirm this in an interview.
Perhaps most importantly of all, be yourself. When you act as you ordinarily would, you will feel confident and the interviewer is more likely to gain a favourable impression of you.
- Answer questions with just a “yes” or “no”. Whenever possible, explain what you mean succinctly, emphasising the skills and experience you have which are relevant to the position.
- Self-promote. Instead, you should talk about yourself and your abilities in a factual, sincere manner.
- Say anything that is untrue or misleading. Answer questions truthfully.
- Be drawn by questions on contentious areas like politics, religion or economics. Politely answer with, “Yes, that is an issue,” and move on.
- Ask directly about your salary, holidays or bonuses (unless the interviewer raises it first).
- Express any disappointment with your performance in the interview or the interviewer. Instead, always leave the interviewer with a positive impression.
Tips on closing the interview
- If you are genuinely interested in the position, say so!
- If the position is not of interest to you, explain that you’re interested in the company and briefly describe the sort of position you feel you would be best suited for instead.
- Ask for the next interview if you feel you have performed well.
- If the position is offered to you and you want it, accept it on the spot. Politely ask for the offer to be confirmed in writing.
- If you want some time to think it over, be courteous, express your interest and tactfully ask for some time to think it over. Set a definite date when you will provide an answer.
- If no definite offer is made, don’t be discouraged. Most interviews don’t result in an offer being made on the spot, no matter how well it went. The interviewer may want to speak with others first, interview other applicants on the shortlist, or complete final reference checks before making up their mind.
- If you get the impression that the interview is not going well or if you make a mistake in answering a question, ask the interviewer if you can repeat your answer.
- Once in a while, an interviewer who is genuinely interested in you may attempt to discourage you in order to test your reaction. Remain confident!
- Thank the interviewer for their time and consideration.
- Make sure you have made clear the following key points:
- That you are interested in the job and the company
- That you have the capabilities and confidence to do the job
- That you are the right person for their workplace.
After the interview
The first thing you should do after your interview is call your Buckmaster Hawkey consultant and tell them how your interview went.
You should let your consultant know:
- If you are interested in progressing further.
- Your perception of the interviewer’s response to you.
- If you overlooked anything in the interview (explain what it was and what you should have said).
- If you have reconsidered any of your answers.
This phone call may be one of the most important calls you will make in the whole job seeking process. Interviewers can be impressed when a candidate has taken the time to think though their performance, realised an error and acted to correct it!