14 April, 2016

Clearing the final hurdle

Steph has worked in recruitment since 2007. As one of our Recruitment Managers, she’s found new talent for most business areas within M&S. No-one knows the retail sector or the changing landscape of the recruiter and candidate market like Steph. So her tips on clearing the final hurdle to get your dream job are well worth reading, whether you’re new to interviews or an old hand.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

Preparation is everything. Sounds obvious but many people don’t take the time to think about how they will tackle this stage of the process. So don’t let your interview be a leap into the unknown. Know your stuff. This means doing your research, on us as a business, as well as the role and the department you’ll be working in. Read about us in the news; use our website to get the lowdown on where you fit into the bigger picture. Get clued up – because not knowing is pretty much unforgiveable.

Anticipate our questions; prepare the best answers.

If you think about it, figuring out the structure and purpose of an interview is not that tough. We want to know about you, your skills and how they relate to the role. How you illustrate this will be key; it will make you stand out from the crowd. If you think carefully about what we’re likely to ask you and come armed with the right ammunition, your answers will be right on target and impress us. Think about what competencies the role requires; how have you demonstrated these in your life to date? All experience is good experience. Make sure you make the most of the questions we ask to paint as full and as vivid a picture of yourself as possible.

First impressions last.

Dress for success; dress to impress. We like our people to be smart – in their thinking and their appearance. Choose an appropriate outfit that shows you’re professional and will be a good ambassador for our brand. Be punctual. Make sure you arrive in plenty of time for your interview; better too early than too late. Be confident. Greet your interviewer with a smile and firm handshake; keep an appropriate amount of eye contact and be engage. We understand you may be nervous but try and relax. If you’ve prepared, you’ll do well. We’re not here to catch you out; we want you to succeed. Above all, be yourself. Your individuality has brought you this far, so let it shine through.

Be positive, be engaged, be you.

That last point is vital, so it’s probably worth exploring in more detail. Individuality is something we really value; yours will be your best asset. Know how to sell yourself and show yourself in the best light possible. If you have positive body language, appear focused and engaged, that’s half the battle won. Remember the four ‘Cs’: be clear, confident, candid and concise in your answers. If you’ve prepared well, you’ll do well.

We’re buying you, so sell, sell, sell.

Nobody knows you better than you do. Accentuate your positives, show us your personality. We’re a people business so paint us a portrait of who you are and what you can be in the future. Don’t just let your qualifications speak for themselves; they won’t say enough on their own. We want the back story. We want to know what makes you tick; what excites you. You don’t need to be arrogant to sell who you are. If you package yourself and serve up put all your selling points on display, you’ll be less likely to get left on the shelf.

You need to buy us too.

Question us. Grill us, if necessary. This is your chance to put us on the spot. We like intelligent, enquiring minds. Prepare your questions carefully. Don’t ask the obvious, we’ll expect you to have done your research. Use your questions to demonstrate you’ve thought about the role and your future with the business. You might like to ask us about our values; to walk you through a typical day; our vision for the future. Whatever you ask, frame your question carefully and engage with the answer. A good interview should be an enjoyable conversation – and conversations take two.

Remember, it’s your interview. Get the most from it you possibly can. Enjoy it. Believe in yourself. You’ve made it this far – and that’s an achievement in itself. Digest the points above and we’re sure you’ll clear that final hurdle. Best of luck, we look forward to meeting you. 

(And don’t forget – prepare!).

Inside M&S