Interviews: How to hire and be hired

There are two sides to any interview. Whether you’re applying for a new job or you’re finding yourself on the other side of the desk for the first time, it’s important to remember that a) an interview is a two-way street and b) that this is your best opportunity to sell yourself, your skills and if you’re conducting the interview, your company.

Part 1: Being hired

Most of this is common sense, but that doesn’t make it any less critical.

  • Arrive on time or, even better, ten minutes early – Plan your journey and allow breathing space for delays. That ten minutes will let you collect yourself and prepare your thoughts 
  • Dress appropriately – Remember, it’s about knowing your audience. A client-facing role in a more traditional corporate company will likely require business attire, but many start-ups are relaxing dress codes and you don’t want to wander in wearing a bowler hat and a monocle if everyone is wearing trainers and hoodies. Understand your industry and the company and either way, be showered, be ironed and appear neat and presentable. It might not warrant a tie, but it probably warrants a clean shirt. Equally, if you’re interviewing on a live construction site, stiletto heels probably aren’t practical. If you’ve been told a specific dress code, click here to find out what it means 
  • Know yourself and your subject – Preparation, preparation, preparation is the best way to succeed in a job interview, everything else is extra 
  • Make sure you know the company inside out – Find out what you can about who is interviewing you (use LinkedIn and don’t worry that they’ll know you’ve been snooping – it shows you’ve taken initiative), and know your own experience 
  • It’s not enough to be able to rattle off a list of jobs and grades – You might have had a job, and you might have been responsible for the petty cash box, but that doesn’t prove you were any good at it. Think in measurables – ‘I decreased my company’s petty cash box mistakes by 70% in 2017 by implementing a new system’, for example. Solid illustrations and examples are worth more than vague references to being a good multi-tasker and a team player – show them the evidence
  • Prepare some questions – Show that you’ve spent time preparing for the interview and that you are truly interested in the role (not just the pay) with some sensible questions. You don’t necessarily need to wait until the end – if it’s relevant to the discussion, go for it. Check out our page on interviews for the top questions you should be asking 
  • Smile!

Want more tips? Take a look at Reed’s guide on interviewing here.

Part 2: Doing the hiring

Most of the above apply to you too, but you have the added responsibility of providing some structure to the discussion.

  • Work backward – Picture what you need from a candidate, and use this to form your questions. Is the role particularly independent? You need to create some questions and discussion points that encourage your interviewee to prove that they know how to do this successfully. Do you need an outgoing networker? You’ll need proof of confidence, and it’s up to you to ask for it
  • You’re being tested too. You never know if the person who walks into the interview room is the one you want, and you might have to fight to get them. Use this opportunity to present the company in its best light and give it some personality and be positive, but realistic, about the role

Take a look at this article, which includes some great inspiration for preparing questions and on the wider recruitment process. 

Contributed by Lisa Flounders, Account Director at Surrey-based PR agency PHM