Interview Advice


There is a lot of general interview advice available on the internet these days, however our advice is specifically tailored to the Business Intelligence arena and focuses on the types of interview you are likely to encounter at each stage of the process.

The Telephone Interview.

Often the first stage of the process (after any initial screening interviews you may have with a Recruitment Agency) is a telephone interview with a representative from the employer. This may be with a representative of HR, or with the hiring manager directly, and basically the same rules apply.

Ensure you are relaxed and in a comfortable environment.

Don’t feel pressured to take interviews at a time when you have no privacy available, such as on an open plan office! Try and arrange them for when you will be home, or failing that when you can secure a private office space at work or elsewhere. Make sure you have some water handy as your throat may dry up on the call. Some people are quite happy to take an interview on the mobile whilst sitting in their car in the car park at work, but never agree to an interview whilst driving or on your morning commute on the train! If you are not 100% confident of the mobile signal where you are, always use a landline as nothing is worse that losing signal mid interview and not being able to re-establish it successfully.

The interviewer will/should have your CV to hand – so make sure you do too!

Its always surprising the little things that employers notice on your CV and want to quiz you on, so make sure you have your CV in front of you – it will remind you of that particular project or skill that they seem interested in, and there is less chance of you “drying up” if you have the reminder to hand.

Be yourself on the phone.

Phone interviews can be tricky, its difficult to project yourself well if you are struggling to hear on a dodgy mobile connection. It can be difficult to establish a rapport with an interviewer that you cannot see, so keep it brief and businesslike and resist the temptation to make jokes! Be aware that the interviewer may well be working to a strict timescale (maybe allowing 15-20 minutes per interview), and may even be working to a fairly tight “script” so that they ensure each candidate is given the opportunity to respond to the same questions.

The First Interview.

The first face to face interview is often regarded as the key stage in the process, as its generally the first chance you have to make an impression with the hiring manager, the person who one day soon may be your new boss.

Do your preparation.

Do your research on the company, the position and if possible the interviewer themselves (eg look them up on LinkedIn). The interviewer will expect you to have visited the company website as a minimum, where the careers pages are often a good source of material for follow-up questions.

First impressions count, so make sure you arrive in good time so that you are relaxed rather than flustered, and you have time to freshen up or smarten your appearance if necessary after a journey. Make sure you greet the interviewer with eye contact, a smile, and a firm handshake.

Questions, questions.

Be prepared for questions, and be prepared to ask questions. The best interviews are always a 2-way process, and ideally you want to take the initiative at some point in the interview. At the very least, you should be fairly confident that you can answer common interview questions about why you would be a good fit for the role, your strengths and weaknesses, and why you want the position.

Next steps.

When the interview is drawing to a close, you need clarity about the next steps and timescales. Find out specifically who will get back to you, when, and how.

The Second Interview.

Second Interviews have the reputation of being “confirmatory” interviews, in other words the employer now believes you are a serious prospect for the role in question after a successful first interview, but they are now seeking “confirmation” that you are indeed the best fit for the position.

This could mean that you are introduced to a wider panel of interviewers – some companies want to spread the responsibility for the hire among a wider group, so you may get to meet prospective internal clients or user managers for projects that you may be working on. Similarly, HR representatives may be called in to the process to assess your fit to the company’s values and ethos.

Tests & Presentations.

Alternatively, you may find that your second interview is some form of “test” in that either a technical test will form part of the interview, or, for client-facing roles, you may be asked to give a short presentation on a specific topic to a small audience. The idea here being that you will be asked to perform under “stress conditions” to see how you handle questions, comments, interruptions etc, and how well you can manage your time and your audience!

In these circumstances, the best advice again is be yourself, be prepared on the subject matter, and try to engage with all members of the panel or audience with good eye contact and a confident manner.

As with the first interview, find out the next steps and timescales before you depart.

The Third Interview.

Surely not a 3rd face-to-face interview I hear you cry? Well hopefully if the company has a well polished recruitment process this won’t be necessary, but they are a fact of life and you may encounter one on your job search.

Reasons for having a 3rd interview do vary. Sometimes the organisation take great care over who they recruit, and this is an opportunity for a more senior executive to participate in the process. Sometimes the hiring manager has been unwilling/unable to choose between 2 or 3 strong candidates, and has extended the decision making group to include a more senior figure. Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s indicative that the company’s interview process isn’t too well refined, and they 3rd interviewer could/should have participated at the 2nd interview stage to avoid you making 3 interview journeys.

Complacency the enemy.

3rd interviews are notoriously difficult to predict. Over the years we’ve heard clients say things like “its just a rubber stamping process”, or, its just for our MD to make sure the candidate doesn’t have 2 heads” and other such nonsense. Don’t believe this if your recruitment agency gives you this line. Our advice? It’s not a rubber stamping exercise, far from it. Your biggest enemy at this stage is complacency, believing you only have to turn up to get offered the job. Treat it as you would a 1st or 2nd interview and you won’t go far wrong! Success rates are generally the same for 3rd interviews as second interviews. Be prepared to cover the same ground as the 1st and 2nd interviews, and try not to be visibly irritated by it if you really want the role! Sometimes, at third interview stage, the interviewer will offer you the job on the spot, so you need to be prepared for this. How to handle a job offer, though, has to be the subject of another article!

BI Jobs Ltd. 2015

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