Discovering that all your hard work on your CV has paid off and that you’ve been invited to an interview for your desired job is one of the best feelings ever. And then suddenly, the realisation sinks in and you remember you still have more work to do to prove you’re the best applicant for the role. Mandy Watson shows you how to boost your prospects of securing your desired role.
Due to the current pandemic, virtual interviews are becoming increasingly popular to accommodate social distancing measures. However, as restrictions begin to lift and print businesses can increase their operations, we could see an increase in on-site interviews, which have been extremely limited in the last few months.
Currently, print candidates should be prepared for either. Your presentation and professionalism are still paramount to the impression you make. Be punctual, smartly dressed and polite. How you conduct yourself will not matter any less if you’re being interviewed via video.
Research your potential employer
In preparation, ensure that you have researched the company offering you an interview. You may have done this to an extent when writing your CV and covering letter, but expand on this for your interview.
Employers want to recruit talent that will engage with their business, so use your interview as an opportunity to show your interest in the company’s achievements and place in the print industry.
Enjoy the opportunity to describe things in greater detail
Expect to be asked competency-based questions, and ensure you answer with examples of how you have used your skills and knowledge in previous professional situations.
If you were interviewing for a management position for a print company, you may be asked: “How do you approach managing a team while being responsible for multiple projects?” Or, if you were interviewing for a design role, you could be presented with a mock brief and asked: “What software and tools would you use for this campaign, and why?”
STAR is a proven interview technique to help interviewees answer competency-based questions.
Situation – What was your position and working environment?
Task – What were you responsible for and what was expected of you?
Action – What skills and knowledge did you use to approach this task?
Result – What was the outcome and your achievements?
Be prepared to innovate on the spot
If you are interviewing for a design, management, technical, operational or proofreading job, you are likely to be asked to conduct an activity for your interview. Your interview may require you to carry out a timed presentation, practical task or contribute to a role-play scenario. Not all interviewers will forewarn you about an interview task, or what exactly it entails.
Interview tasks are an opportunity for your potential employer to assess your soft skills, as well as hard and practical skills. So they’ll be analysing how you perform under pressure and work with others.
Don’t let your nerves deceive you
Some people love interviews, they love the adrenaline and opportunity to show what they’ve got. Others find them nerve-wracking, intimidating and awkward - even when they are more than capable of doing the job.
Whatever industry or position you are interviewing for, just remember, you’ve already impressed the decision-maker with your application. Recruiting is expensive and time-consuming, so businesses really won’t waste their time seeing you if they’re not seriously considering you.
Make the competition work in your favour
When applying for jobs you’ll be constantly told “don’t be afraid of the competition”. But that’s easier said than done when you must partake in a group interview. Sometimes candidates don’t even know this until they arrive for their interview.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this may not be an interview format that occurs for some while; however, should it return in the future, print candidates should be prepared for them.
It’s an industry where most jobs require teamwork and collaboration, so interviewers use group interviews to identify how their candidates interact and work with others. Embrace the opportunity to show your communication skills.
First impressions work both ways, and it is just as important that you assess the company that could potentially become your employer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, about the role, the business and future plans. Asking questions is also a way of demonstrating your interest and engagement with the role. Employers want invested staff.
What’s an average day in the role? Who will I be working with? What challenges can I expect?
Proving your knowledge and experience in using specific printing devices, machinery and software will be pertinent. Hopefully, you’ve referenced specific makes, models and versions in your CV, but in your interview be clear about what tools you have previously used.
You could be given a mock criteria and asked what tools you would use for it and why?
Go the extra mile
Be careful not to hijack the interview, but show you’ve gone out of your way to impress by bringing extra supporting documents and material for your print interview.
Pre-interview, your potential employer may have already seen a digital copy of your portfolio, but ensure you take a hard copy too. Highlight your best work, or pieces most applicable to the company you’ve applied for and engage with it by describing the creative or practical process of your work.
Even if you’re not interviewing for a design or production role, bring evidence of statistics that show how you’ve improved your previous company. If you’ve lead a successful project or campaign, increased profits or productivity, or introduced new concepts, show your interviewer how.
Think back to your CV
Understandably, when writing your CV, you may have received some help on it. When starting from scratch, most candidates turn to the internet for inspiration and tips on the best industry practices for job hunters. Take my last article for The Gill on CV tips for print candidates.
You should be bold in expressing your qualities and take all the help you can get when constructing your CV. However, the tone and facts on your CV need to be true and a fair representation of you as a person and professional.
Interviewers will quickly identify if what you say in person does not resonate with your CV.