One of the most important parts of my job is ensuring that if I have a candidate interviewing with a client, that I help the candidate to get the most out of that interview. Potentially, they only have one shot to impress and a little bit of preparation and homework can give you the edge when there are multiple people interviewing.
Often, it's the part of the process where the candidate is most nervous. Sometimes, the best candidates for the job are the most nervous (the opposite is also true!) so sometimes, the interview preparation is a bit of confidence boosting. Reminding individuals why they are right for the role, reinforcing what their skills are, where their strengths lie, being able to give examples of projects or campaigns which you have worked on that demonstrate your strengths and skills. Sometimes candidates are a bit demoralised if they have been affected by redundancy or spending too long in a role and becoming unhappy but in an interview you really do need to have your 'game face' on. Preparation is key.
Usually I will recommend the obvious preparation for that all important first interview. Check out the client website, their social feeds, look up the people interviewing you, do some random Googling. Print out the job description and annotate it with examples of where you will add value (useful to have during the interview too).
Have an answer to the question, 'what do you know about us' and 'why do you want to work here'. It's not a great idea to say 'I checked you out on my mobile on the train here' (as someone did recently).
Then I advise candidates to prepare a 'pitch' for themselves. Potentially the same as the Elevator pitch but I'm not sure 30 seconds is enough. But if you take some time to prepare it, it can be tailored and used for any interview. And you get more confident talking it through and hopefully then become more persuasive to the interview.
With your pitch, think about where the client may have questions about your career history. If there are any gaps or if you have not stayed in a role for very long, it's pretty likely they are going to hone in on that. So you can be proactive in your pitch in offering them insight as to why you made certain decisions.
Whilst 30 seconds is too short. Don't go for War and Peace either. Talk about the salient facts pertinent to your CV which should make you a great fit for the role you are interviewing for. If you've reviewed the job description, you'll know what the interviewer is looking for.
The other tip for the first interview is to listen and to read the room. Again, you'd be surprised how many people fail to pick up on key indicators - does the interviewer seem engaged? Are you talking too much? Have you drifted off the point of the question?. If an interviewer seems disengaged, you can always ask them if you have answered a question to their satisfaction. Being self-aware is important and generally you'll know if you are rambling.
People have written books on getting interview technique right. This is only a short blog post because I do see how my advice on preparing a pitch does genuinely convert well to job offers. Zero preparation shows either arrogance to an interviewer or that the individual would bring that same lack of preparation to a role too. What's that expression? Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
I'm always happy to chat prior to interviews and support candidates who want to practice. Feel free to get in touch!