How to nail an interview: Top tips from a HR Manager
So you have a job interview coming up. How confident are you that you’ll leave a good impression? Do you know what to expect, what questions might come up…or how to build rapport? If your answer to any of those questions was “no” don’t worry—you’re not the only one. Questions like these are rife on the internet and while there is no universal ‘one-answer-fits-all’ solution, there are some excellent tips to help you stay ahead of the game. And who better to ask then a HR manager!? We caught up with our very own hiring super-power Irina, to learn how to ace a job interview, stand out from the crowd and land that dream job!
Making the perfect first impression
Hi Irina! Thanks for taking the time to share some industry secrets with us! What are you looking for during that first interaction with a candidate?
This first interaction may seem like a relatively informal conversation, but it’s actually an integral part of the recruitment process and some candidates may not make it further than this stage if they don’t meet the recruiter’s expectations. For me, whether it’s a call over the phone or a video call, there are four key things that I’m interested in:
#1 Motivation: I want to know exactly what motivated the candidate to apply—what sparked their interest in the role and in the company. Hearing about their motivations helps us to identify whether the candidate will be a good fit.
#2 Relevant skills: This one is a no-brainer. I need to know that the candidate has the skills to take on the role. If they don’t tick most (if not all) of the required boxes in the job description, then this may be the end of the line for them. So make sure that you have examples to back up your CV! We want to know that you’re as good as you say you are.
#3 Relevant experience: This one is a little more flexible. We’re a digital company, so we love to hear about previous positions you’ve had in the digital sector and how the work is relevant to what we do—however, if you lack this experience, but have the right skills and are a good fit, then this is something we can usually work with. Experience isn’t everything, but if you lack it, then make sure you have the skills and passion to persuade a recruiter to look past it.
#4 Drive: Tell us how driven you are. We want to know that a candidate is passionate about developing and has a willingness to try new things, adapt, and learn. Not just professionally but personally too. If, for example, you took a language course, ran a marathon, have a blog that you love to write – then let us know! We want to hear about your ambition, your drive, and curiosity to learn.
Great advice! We see in a lot of job descriptions that a certain level of education is often required. Should someone be put off from applying if they don’t meet that criteria?
Having a degree in the area you’re now applying for is obviously a bonus, but it’s not a deal breaker. We have hired people for roles where their studies are completely unrelated. It’s often the case that you didn’t know what you wanted to do when you were 18 and generally we try not to hold that against someone. If you have the professional experience, determination, and a clear drive to learn, then chances are you’ll still be considered for the role.
To give a few examples:
Andrea (Marketing Team Lead) || Degree: Philosophy
Louise (Project Manager) || Degree: English Literature & American Studies
Yang (Service Team Lead) || Degree: Urban Planning and Project Management
Say I’ve applied for a position at 360 Digital Starters and made it to the first round of interviews – what top tips would you give to help me prepare?
#1 Do your research: If you’re reading this post, then you’ve already made an excellent start. We want to know that you’ve familiarized yourself with who we are, what we do, and the culture of the company. I’d always recommend that candidates check out our social media platforms, play a few quizzes and tests, and jot down some observations they have.
#2 Anticipate and prepare: There are some standard questions we tend to ask to see if you’d be a good fit. One of the main things we’ll want to know is how your experience is relevant to the position and what you think you could bring to the company.
#3 Practice: If you’re feeling a little rusty then try to run through possible questions with a friend. Think of questions you might ask if you were the interviewer and then prepare responses for them. If you’ve already answered questions a few times at home, then if they come up in the real interview you’ll find it much easier to answer them.
#4 Throw in some data: Do you have a project that you were involved in that could be relevant to the role? Perhaps you wrote an article for a previous company, worked on a web design, built a new feature, or created some marketing campaigns? Bring it up! Even better if you can share some data on how that project performed and how you used that data to improve. It's a great idea to grab some data about us too - we share our key data on our corporate site and are always impressed when candidates know about it.
#5 Relax: This is probably the hardest piece of advice to do in practice, but hopefully I can help to calm your nerves a little. We know that you might be nervous in the interview. It’s completely normal. But even if your hands are shaking, your voice breaking, and your pits sweating, rest assured that we won’t hold it against you. The one thing we value the most is that you’re genuine. Be yourself, be honest, take a few deep breaths, and you do you – we’ll appreciate it!
Final question: what should a candidate NEVER do?
Never arrive late! If you’re struggling to connect to a video interview or you’ve encountered bad traffic on route to a physical interview, then make sure you message us or call ahead to let us know. Nothing screams “disorganized” and “disinterested” like a candidate who is uncommunicative and tardy. We want to see your energy and your drive to get the role. So be on time, be prepared, and be passionate!
Ready to apply? Check out our open listings on the career page. We wish you good luck with your search!