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Preparing for ‘Fit’ Interviews – Part One

Of all the interview styles, the “fit” interview is by far the most common and is probably the least daunting.

Case studies are often intimidating, ranging from real life situations to off-the-wall brainteasers; remembering the importance is the process not the answer, is easier said than done when nerves have taken hold. Role plays can cause an equal amount of apprehension; and it can be very unnerving when you are faced with a row of professionals to impress in panel interviews. Video conferences come with their own range of technical issues which could throw even the best of candidates off their guard.

The humble fit interview seems easy in comparison but it is important not to neglect your preparation. Fit interviews are often used in the first round and if you appear to be too laissez-faire then progressing will be difficult; which is why I assembled the following top-tips.

Start with a smile

Ok, so back to the basics. In fit interviews the focus is on you; your experience, your CV, your personality, your skills, your knowledge, your motivations, and generally all things you, so make your first impression count. Start with a smile; it’s ok to look a little nervous but look happy and excited too. It is surprising how smiling can affect your confidence.

Remember, anyone you meet in the building could be a future colleague or a friend of the recruiter so act accordingly. Arrive 5-10 minutes early and wait patiently; keep your head up and avoid nervous habits like chewing gum, smoking or biting your nails.

It may also be best to stay standing, look at the pictures on the wall, or the view if they have one, so that you are on an even level when the interviewer arrives; if there is something particularly interesting it can also be a great way of starting casual conversation. The added benefit is that you can avoid fumbling with coats and bags when standing up to greet the interviewer.

When you introduce yourself do so with a firm and friendly handshake, maintaining eye contact and using their name; letting them know you are pleased to meet them.

Dress smart and on the conservative side; suits and pastel colours. Avant-garde clothing won’t charm all interviewers and those who like comical ties, multi-coloured shirts or diamanté shoes are few and far between, so it’s not worth the risk. Likewise, excessive jewellery or makeup can be overpowering; if you leave these understated it won’t detract from the strength of your C.V. and experience.

Be prepared

It is essential to be equipped with everything you need for the interview. It not only shows that you are organised but it can also show the interviewer that you took care in preparing for the meeting.

Pre-interview, check that you have a print copy of the directions; have a map handy as satellite-navigation systems can fail. Know where you are going and leave plenty of time to find it; it is best to have the main telephone number of the location as well, in case you do get lost. You might consider doing a dry-run the day before so you can look at parking.

There may be contacts or company information that you want to keep note of so bring a notepad and pen. Having your own pen will also be helpful if you have to fill out any paper work. Also photo ID such as a driving license is always a good item to have to hand, just in case.

Bringing copies of your CV is a must; they may not have it with them and you can refer to it when they ask you questions. If you are working with an agency or head hunter, check what CV they submitted; at Exige, we re-format our candidates’ CVs before sending them to the client, so the focus is on the content not the choice of font etc. If they have done this, ask for a digital copy and take print-outs of these instead.

Supporting material such as certifications, performance reviews, reference lists, work samples or portfolios are excellent ways of showing your calibre. You can use these to support your strengths and job responsibilities.

Perhaps most crucially, have a list of thoughtful and considered questions to ask. A physical list will help you think about your phrasing and can be a useful prompt should you forget anything. But pay attention, if your interviewer has already answered one or more of your questions during the meeting, don’t make them repeat themselves; acknowledge that you had that question but they had already answered it. If you refer to what they said before, it will let them know you were listening and give them an opportunity to add anything.

Bear in mind that asking about holidays, benefits and salary in the first interview is unnecessary and shows that your priorities are wrong; leave these to be negotiated later down the line (there is more likely to be more wiggle room once they have made a decision about you anyway).

Stay tuned for Part Two