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Preparing for ‘Fit’ Interviews – Part Two

Preparing for a fit interview may seem easy but neglect your preparation and you could waste a brilliant opportunity. Continuing from Part One, the following are some top tips for fit interviews.

Bringing your A game

You have arrived fully prepared; you are happy, confident and enthusiastic. Fit interviews generally focus on CV based questions, and you wrote your CV, so this should be a breeze, right? Wrong. Do not take your CV for granted; know it back-to-front and be clear on your strengths. Sell yourself in a confident (but not arrogant) manner and be prepared to give different examples of teamwork, individual focus, client dealings, organisation etc.

Fit questions can be tricky; you need to be sure of your motivations and give consistent answers. Try to avoid clichés; for example, don’t say that working too hard is you biggest weakness. Try being honest and refer to a weakness you have overcome or are working to overcome. Clichés not only make you look bad but will probably be met by an audible groan from the interviewer.

Keep it a two-way street

A fit interview is all about your fit with the firm; at the end of the day if the culture does not suit you then there is little pointing in pretending it does. This process is as much about you finding out if the company and the role match your hopes, as it is about the interviewer seeing if you match the company.

When thinking about questions to ask, consider what you would really like to get from the job and what is important to you. In a recent article, Gary Swart suggests four areas which are of priority to people in their work life; opportunity for impact, growth and development, work-life balance and financial reward. It’s worth thinking about what is most valuable to you and developing questions that allow you to gauge the company’s priorities.

For example, if you are seeking a position which will allow you to grow and develop (perhaps if you are starting out in your career) you might want to ask about their training schemes. You may want to ask about how they see the role developing and chances for progression within the company. Alternatively, if your work-life balance is a priority (perhaps if you are a parent); you may want to ask about flexible working hours.

You could also consider getting the interviewers perspective; try asking about their experiences. Their immediate reaction will probably be to sell the company to you; so try asking what they consider the most challenging part of their job, or what they would see as the most challenging aspect for you in the role.

Finish on a high

I once read that polishing the back of your shoes was a must in preparing for an interview, as it is the last thing the interviewer sees. I am not sure I would put too much faith in my shoes but I do believe that the last impression is just as important as the first (and it is often fresher in the interviewers mind). You can always recover from a bad start but you won’t be able to recover from a bad finish.

Don’t let the interview fizzle out. You will feel a natural point in the meeting when you both can tell it is winding up; don’t let it drag on but don’t leave too quickly. Acknowledge that it is time to finish by asking a final question; what happens next. Asking about the next stages shows enthusiasm for the position and confronts the interviewer into an immediate opinion. If a second interview is on the cards, ask about whom it will be with and the structure and, if you feel the atmosphere is positive, suggest when you might be free. If they don’t want to give immediate feedback, ask when you can expect to hear from them and remain positive; often people need time to process everything they’ve heard.

Finally, shake the interviewers hand, thank them for their time and let them know it was a pleasure to speak with them (even if it wasn’t). If you have their email address it may be worth sending them a note later in the day, thanking them again and letting them know how you felt the interview went. If you are working with an agency or head hunter, give them a call and let them know how it went; they will be in regular contact with the interviewer and may have feedback sooner than you think.

Coming soon, Coping with Case Studies