Job Interviews are invariably stressful. Few people, including the most frequent job hoppers, enjoy the interview experience but doing some research and being prepared can certainly help to alleviate the stress and improve your chances of success.
It’s worth remembering that the best candidate on paper does not always get the job. Having the right knowledge, experience and qualifications to meet the requirements of the job specification is only half the battle. Being able to demonstrate personal characteristics such as decisiveness, integrity, determination, enthusiasm and even a sense of humour can be equally as important.
IT Architecture roles invariably require a unique blend of business and IT skills, someone capable of understanding business requirements and then mapping them to infrastructure and systems. More specifically, Enterprise Architecture roles require individuals capable of interpreting business strategy such that they can develop company wide architectural roadmaps and methodologies to ensure the strategy can be implemented. Consequently, these individuals may need to operate at executive management level and will need to demonstrate the requisite communication skills in any interview.
In order to prepare appropriately, you need to what type of interview you’ve been selected for.
Type of interview
Some recruiters use a single interview to decide whether to hire you. Many will use a sequence of interviews to inform their decision. In sequential interviews you will be interviewed by a number of different interviewers or panels in turn. You may find that the questions asked get more difficult each time. Alternatively you may be interviewed by a more senior member of the organisation each time or be asked about a different set of competencies. In these circumstances, it’s important to remember to answer every question fully even if you feel you have been asked it previously.
Face-to-face interviews - this is the most common method. One interviewer or two or a panel of interviewers will conduct the interview. The one-to-one method is the least preferred due to ethical issues around equality and transparency but is sometimes used for informal pre-screening interviews as part of a multi-stage recruitment process.. Panel interviews generally contain a spread of gender and expertise and are often chaired by the person to whom you will report, should you get the job.
Group interviews - several candidates are present and will be asked questions in turn by two or more interviewers. A group discussion around a specific topic may be encouraged and you may be invited to put questions to the other candidates and/or to the panel.
Telephone interviews - telephone interviews are increasingly used by companies as part of the recruitment process, often at an early stage of selection, especially by overseas recruiters. Prepare in the same way that you would for a face-to-face interview. Make sure you choose a suitable time and date, in a place where you will be free to chat in a quiet place without any interruptions. Make sure your mobile is charged if you are using it. Remember to keep any necessary documents, like your CV and the job advert, to hand throughout the phone call.
In all cases, it’s worth spending the time to make sure you understand the interview format so that you can tailor your interview responses according to your audience.
Informal interviews - these are often used as the first part of a multi-stage recruitment process. For less senior jobs this may be the only selection method used. The format tends to be a general chat about you and your interests. Be aware that it is still an assessment of you. In structured interviews, all candidates are asked the same set of questions in a structured format. Typically they begin with a brief chronological review of your overall career to date.
Competency/criteria-based interviews - these are structured to reflect the competencies or qualities required by the job. The interviewers are looking for evidence of your skills and abilities and expect you to support your answers with examples of your experience from your life to date.
Technical interviews - if you have applied for a job that requires technical knowledge, it is likely that you will be asked technical questions or have a separate technical interview. Questions may focus on your last project or on real or hypothetical technical problems. Often there is not a right answer - interviewers may just be interested in your thought process and logic.
Case study interviews - in these you may be presented with a hypothetical or real business problem. You will be evaluated on your analysis of the problem, how you identify the key issues, how you pursue a particular line of thinking and how you organise your thoughts.
It’s highly likely that you will want to call the company before your interview to get additional information. Make sure you right down all the information you want to solicit from the company in advance.
Before the interview find out:
Where will it be held?
How long will it last?
What format will it take?
Will there be any tests or group exercises?
Do I need to bring or prepare anything specific?
Who will be interviewing me?
The interview invitation is likely to provide you with some of the above information but it’s likely you will need to call them to get more details about the names and roles of people interviewing you.
Making an impression
First impressions really do count. If you get an interview you can assume that your potential employers already like what they have seen and so you should use the interview as an opportunity to build on that impression.
It might seem fundamental, but remember to speak clearly and confidently and in a friendly manner. Make sure you demonstrate your listening skills by listening carefully to interview questions. Ask clarification questions if there’s something you don’t understand. Your replies should be concise and supported by relevant examples if there’s an opportunity to do so.
Be aware of the effects of your body language and how to use it to your advantage.
Keep a relaxed but alert posture and a friendly expression. This will indicate a positive approach on your part. Be conscious of maintaining good posture throughout the interview as you may find that when an interview is going well you tend to slouch into a casual pose.
Maintain good eye contact. If there is more than one interviewer, look at the person asking the question when you reply but glance at the other interviewers from time to time.