Despite today’s candidate driven market, thorough interview preparation remains vital for prospective employees. Our Director of Grocery Retail Recruitment, Nikki Murran, advises how to answer classic ‘killer questions’ with ease
Last week I got a call rejecting my candidate from a role he had interviewed for, and I was perplexed. He had done a similar role, was in the right location, right salary range, and was actually a great guy and perfect culture fit! What could have gone wrong?
Then I got the feedback from the interviewer and immediately understood. When the candidate was asked what he liked about the brand, he admitted he hadn’t visited any stores or done much research. The candidate really wanted this job. I had recommended to him that he visit a couple of stores beforehand and I had sent him plenty of information, but he was busy in his current role and never found the time. So, he never got the job!
In this candidate-driven market, one could be forgiven for thinking the same level of preparation as in previous years is no longer required in interviews. But as I witnessed last week, this is absolutely not the case. With higher salaries on offer and more benefits available than ever before, employers want to see candidates present themselves in the best light possible to warrant these ever-improving packages!
With that in mind, below are some questions, which, when prepared well, can make all the difference in landing that dream job:
One of the most common questions in an interview – and one of the easiest to answer – is “why do you want this job”. This is an opportunity for you to be honest with what motivates you and to make sure this is what is in line with what your potential new employer is offering. It is also a great opportunity for the interviewer to determine how well you have researched and understood their vacancy and their business. I always recommend visiting the store and its competition in the local area beforehand, speaking to people who work within the brand and can tell you more about the culture, and to have a good trawl through Google to see what you can find out. Not only will you come across as more engaged, but you will have a much better idea if this is the right role for you!
Talk me through your experience or tell me about yourself
This is my favourite interview question. This is not the moment for you to tell the interviewer how you enjoy long walks, and once won a chicken wing eating contest, but rather an opportunity for you to highlight your successes in your career to date. Do this by chatting through each role you have held, and more importantly, about the achievements you have had in each of these roles, include stats and figures to back it up where you can. Think of it as a highlight reel rather than a CV summary! This question often comes up early in an interview and if you have prepared a couple of points of your career successes it can be a great way to settle into your interview, while also using the time to tell the interviewer how great a candidate you are!
What would you say is your weakness?
Everyone hates this question. To be fair, it is an awful question, and for that reason, I never really recommend answering it. Rather, when asked about what your weakness is, I would suggest sharing a weakness you used to have, and an example of how it is now one of your strongest points! For example, “I used to be somewhat disorganised, however, a couple of years ago I started a system where I prioritize my tasks each evening for the next day and now, I would say organisation is one of my top strengths!” I know it’s a bit of a politician’s answer – but as I said – it’s an awful question!
Most roles involve either managing teams or working within a team. So, it’s realistic to expect a question on this in any interview. Whilst you can’t prepare an answer for every potential question, I would always recommend having a couple of examples of your management skills, leadership style and team development at the front of your mind before the interview. This means you are ready to discuss them when the topic arises. Developing the team around you so that they are empowered, motivated, and progressing is no easy feat – so if you have been doing this successfully be ready with stories to share about how you are achieving it.
Listen and stop talking!
Whilst this is not technically a question – it is good advice nonetheless, so I have included it! Many candidates rush to answer questions in interviews. In doing so they end up not understanding the question or worse, jumping into an ill-thought-out answer that runs off on a tangent that they can’t claw back from. Take a couple of seconds after the question is asked to make sure you heard it correctly and, to decide on your answer before launching into it. No one ever lost a job because they took a couple of seconds to put their answer together! If anything, it shows that you are thoughtful and deliberate.
Next – stop talking! The aim of the interview is absolutely not to fill all the silence, or have the interviewer need to interrupt you to ask their next question. Once you have answered the question – stop talking! Be quiet and wait for the next question. Often, interviewers need to cover certain topics in order to assess your suitability. If you don’t give them the opportunity to control the interview you are taking the risk that you won’t cover what is needed to decide if you are the right fit for them.
Other than that – be yourself and good luck!
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