How To Effectively Prepare For An Interview

Kat Heague our consultant managing the role
Author: Kat Heague
Posting date: 4/7/2020 9:11 AM
If you’re preparing for an interview, video or otherwise, it’s important to think beyond Googling ‘common interview questions’ and scanning the company’s website. It’s important to make a great first impression and by preparing properly, you’re in a better position to achieve this. Plus, you’ll feel more confident and will be able to give more convincing answers that will help prove why you’re the perfect fit for the role.

With that in mind, here are our recommendations for how to best prepare for an interview:

Find out what type of interview it is


Even if a company isn’t working entirely remotely, it’s likely you’ll face a variety of interviews throughout a their application process. Most processes last between two and three stages of interviews, any many vary in how these are conducted. They could be:

Face to Face – Expect these to last between 45 minutes and 2 hours. The questions will be likely be strengths- or competency-based.
Phone – This is often used early in the process, we’d expect these to last approximately 30 minutes and are designed to get a feel for your skillset and experience.
Video – These are becoming increasingly popular with employers, and can be live or pre-recorded. They tend to last around 30 minutes.
Assessment Centres – You’ll attend these with other candidates and take part in a variety of tasks presentations, team exercises and psychometric tests lasting a full day.

Get to know the company 


Don’t just look at their About Us page. Read about them, their clients and their products or services. This will help you learn about what they do but also learn how they see themselves as business and what they feel makes them different from their competitors. This will help your interviewer understand you ‘get’ them and understand their business.

Research the team 


As well as getting to know the company, we’d recommend taking a look at your interviewer’s LinkedIn profile and seeing what they’ve posted and where they’ve come from. Also, take a look at the “Meet the team” pages on the website to gain an insight into who you may be meeting throughout your process. Glassdoor is a good place to go for company reviews but take them as a guide not fact as they’re anonymous reviews by current or former employees. 

Prepare your own questions


It’s likely your interviewer will ask what questions you have for them. This is a great opportunity for you to get the information you need to figure out if this is a job you really want and can see yourself doing. Think about what you really want to know about the position and the company. Things to think about could be: What are the biggest challenges in this position? What would be the expectations of me 3/6/12 months in? Could you describe what a typical day is like in this position?

Not only does this help you build a bigger picture of what this job would look like, your questions show a deeper engagement in the role and company, much more so than asking basic questions such as “What’s the salary? What is the holiday allowance? What are the working hours?”. 

It’s perfectly normal to write down your questions and take them into your interview to avoid forgetting any questions you wanted to know the answers to, so don’t feel as though you can’t do this. 

Re-read the job description


Spend time highlighting the responsibilities in the job description and thinking how your experience equips you to meet these. Try to prepare concrete examples from your past that back up why you’d be great for the role. How have you dealt with challenges or what successes have you had that you can link to how you’d be successful in this role? Try to come up with at least 5 solid examples or stories to talk through in the interview.  

Write down questions you’re likely to be asked


There are some questions you can almost guarantee on being asked such as “tell me about yourself” or “what is your biggest weakness”. It’s also likely you’ll be asked questions around your interest in the role and the company and why you applied. Be prepared to talk about numbers, in particular any significant impact that your previous projects have made on a business. 

For each question you think of jot down a few notes or bullet points to build upon instead of writing out an entire answer and trying to remember it word for word. 

Practice saying your answers


Practising your answers out loud and looking in the mirror will help you clarify your answers and make you more comfortable during the interview. Try doing a mock interview with a friend or family member to help polish your delivery and boost your confidence in what you’re saying. 

Dress accordingly


Figure out what to wear to the interview by asking what the office dress code is before the interview. If the business has a business casual or business dress code, it’s appropriate to wear a suit for males and females to dress in smart business attire. 

Make sure your outfit and shoes are clean and your bag/briefcase is emptied of any rubbish and packed with interview essentials: pens, a notepad, a copy of your CV, list of questions, mints, business card. These may seem obvious, but employers do take note and still make judgements based on how you present yourself. 
If you’re looking to take the next step in your career, or if you’re looking for help with your next hiring process, we can help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

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Ten Tips for Writing the Perfect Data & Analytics CV

It’s no secret that jobs within the Data & Analytics market are more competitive than ever and with some jobs having hundreds of applicants (if not more), having a CV that stands out is more important than ever. It’s well known that many Hiring Managers spend a short amount of time reviewing a candidate, so you need to consider what they can do to have the best impact.  We’ve seen it all over the years, from resumes sorely lacking detail through to those that have almost every accomplishment written over too many pages – so we’ve complied a list of the 10 things that could help you create a resume that makes an impact, complete with top tips from our team of experienced recruiters. 1. Keep it Simple  All of our recruiters are unanimous in suggesting to candidates that the perfect CV length is no more than two pages, or one for a graduate or more junior candidate. Sam, our Corporate Accounts manager suggests that candidates keep it simple: “In analytics, it’s all about the detail and less about how fun your CV looks. My best piece of advice would be to keep it to two pages, use the same font without boxes or pictures, and bold titles for the company and role. It sounds pretty simple but it’s really effective and often what our clients seem to be drawn to the most”.  2. Consider the audience & avoid jargon  Before your CV gets to the Hiring Manager, it may be screened by an HR or recruitment professional so it’s crucial to ensure that your CV is understandable enough that every person reviewing it could gauge your fit. Whilst showing your technical ability is important, ensure that you save yourself from anything excessively technical meaning only the Hiring Manager could understand what you have been doing.  3. Showcase your technical skills  There is, of course, a need to showcase your technical skills. However, you should avoid a long list of technologies, instead clarify your years of experience and competence with each of the tools. Within the Data & Analytics market specifically, clarifying the tools that you used to analyse or model is very important and writing those within your work experience can be very helpful.  Wesley, who heads up our French team, explained where candidates can often go wrong:  “Candidates often write technical languages on their CV in long lists and forget to make them come to life. My clients are looking for them to give examples of how and when they have used the listed tools and languages” 4. Consider the impact of your work Just writing words such as ‘leadership’ or ‘collaboration’ can often easily be over-looked. It’s important that you are able to showcase the impact that you work has beyond the traditionally technical. Think about how you can showcase the projects that you have lead or contributed to and what impact it had on the business. Often people forget the CV isn’t about listing your duties, it’s about listening your accomplishments.   Ewan, our Nordics Senior Manager brings this to life: “I would always tell someone that whenever you are stating something you did in a job you always follow up with the result of that. For example, ‘I implemented an Acquisition Credit Risk Strategy from start to finish’ – but then adding, ‘which meant that we saw an uplift of 15% of credit card use’”.  Joe, New York Senior Manager, concurs: “Actionable insights are important, results driven candidates are what our clients are looking for. So instead of ‘Implemented A/B Testing’, I’d get my candidates to make that more commercial, such as ‘Implemented A/B test that result in 80% increase in conversion’”.  5. Use your Personal Summary  A personal summary is effective when it comes to technical positions, as some people can often overlook them. Use this to summarise your experience and progression as well as indicate the type of role and opportunity you are looking for. If this is highly tailored to the role you are applying for, it can have an extremely positive impact. For example:  ‘Highly accomplished Data Scientist, with proven experience in both retail and banking environments. Prior experience managing a team of five, and proven ability in both a strategic and hands on capabilities. Proven skills in Machine Learning and Statistical Modelling with advanced knowledge of Python, R and Hadoop. Seeking Data Science Manager role in a fast-paced organisation with data-centric thinking at it’s heart’.  6. Consider what work and non-work experience is relevant  If you’ve been working in the commercial technical sphere for more than five years, it’s likely that your part time work experience during university or the non-technical roles that you took before you moved into your space are no longer as relevant. Ensure you are using your space to offer the Hiring Manager recent, relevant and commercially focused information.  However, do not leave gaps just because you took a role that didn’t relate to your chosen field, you don’t need to describe what you did but have the job title, company and dates to ensure you are highlighting a clear history of your experience.  It’s important to note that you are more than just your work experience as well, Principal Consultant Conor advises candidates to talk about more than just their work accomplishments: “Listing non work achievements can help make the CV stand out. If someone has a broad range of achievements and proven drive outside of work, they will probably be good at their job too. Plus, it’s a differentiating point. My clients have found interesting talking points with people who have excelled in sports, instruments, languages and more specifically for the Analytics community – things like maths and Rubik’s cube competitions”.  7. Don’t forget your education  For most technical roles, education is an important factor. Ensure that you include your degree and university/college clearly as well as the technical exposure you had within this. If you did not undertake a traditionally technical subject, make sure you highlight further courses and qualifications that you have completed near this section to highlight to the Hiring Manager that you have the relevant level of technical competence for the role.  8. Don’t include exaggerated statements It goes without saying that if you are going to detail your experience with a certain technical tool or software that you could be asked to evidence it. Saying your proficient in R when you’ve done a few courses on it won’t go over well, especially if there are technical tests involved in the interview process. At the same time, don’t undervalue your expertise in certain areas either, your strengths are what the Hiring Managers is looking for.  9. Don’t get too creative Unless you’re in a creative role it’s unlikely that the Hiring Manager will be looking for something unique when it comes to the CV. In fact, very few people can pull of an overly flashy CV, most of them being those that work specifically in design. When in doubt, stick to standard templates and muted tones.  10. Tailor, Tailor, Tailor!  Time is of the essence and when it comes to reviewing CVs and you don’t have long to make an impact. Make sure to customise your resume using keywords and phrases that match the job description (if they match your own, of course).  For example, if the role is looking for a Business Intelligence Analyst with proven skills in Tableau you would not just claim, “experience in Data Visualisation”, you’d list the software name, “experience in Tableau based Data Visualisation”.  Although every job description is different, all it takes is a few small tweaks to ensure your maximising your skillset.  If you're looking for your next Data & Analytics role or are seeking the best candidates on the market, we may be able to help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more. 

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