The answer is research. I’ve lost count of how many times I have asked an interviewee to say what they know about organisation, only to be met with a blank look or excuse about not having had the time to check. It’s an instant turn off – if someone isn’t interested enough to find out what an employer does, why should they be interested in them?

Make sure your employee has plenty of time and help to do their homework, whether by phoning, emailing or online research.

Guide your employee to learn about the structure and location of the organisation, its key activities and notable achievements. Also encourage them to think about the questions they want to ask during the interview.

Next, help them consider how they will answer common questions they’re likely to be asked:

  • • What skills and qualities do you bring?
  • • Give me an example of something you found difficult and how you overcame it?
  • • Why do you want to work with us?

Providing research-based answers to these questions can make all the difference to securing the job. For example:

  • “I noticed on your website that one of the things you do is … I have always enjoyed this type of work and have experience in doing x, y and z which are connected with it.”
  • “I used to find getting to know colleagues difficult, but I spoke to my manager and asked to organise a social activity so that we could chat more informally and this really helped to build my work relationships with them”.
  • “When I saw the post advertised it really appealed to me because I have been aware of the work you do from your social media posts. I would like to be involved in this type of work and I think that my own skills and experience could contribute well.”

These answers can be moulded to fit a range of situations. If you help your employee get a few of these up their sleeve, they’ll feel more confident and prepared.

Personal Presentation

Candidates often find it difficult to find a happy medium between looking presentable and going for a night out. Check with your employee that they have something suitable to wear. If they don’t and you’re able, help them to buy an interview outfit.

Even if the role is casual and the candidate would not normally dress up, it is crucial that they make a good first impression. Research indicates that interviewers have already formed a strong opinion of an individual within the first six seconds of meeting them.

The Night Before

Get your employee to read any notes they’ve made, to think about their answers and to prepare their interview outfit. Then suggest they get an early night and double check their alarm is set. Make sure they know where and when the interview is, and how they will get there.

On the Day

I’ve yet to meet someone who enjoys interviews, but if you can help your CJS employee to control their nerves and use their adrenaline to help them, they can perform well on the day.

Help them visualise the interview going well, to see in their mind the questions they might be asked and the answers they’ll give. Urge them to think about how good they’ll feel when they get that call offering them the job. Concentrate on positives and encourage your employee not to think about what could go wrong.

Take the time to wish them luck. If you’ve been mentoring them all along, your opinion will be important (even if they don’t show it) and your support will give them confidence.

If they do well, you’ll have helped them move on and take the next step in their career.

If, however, they’re unsuccessful, remember to debrief. Persuade them to phone and ask for feedback, then use that information to prepare for the next interview. We’ve all had disappointments at some stage in our lives, so offer feedback to help build their confidence back up.

“What’s for you won’t go by you”, goes the saying. But first you have to put yourself out there to stop it passing you by!