How to succeed in a job interview: tips and techniques for automotive professionals

In this article: Online interviews. Face-to-face interviews. They’re all stressful. But there are a few key techniques that will help

Nowhere is mastering technology more apparent than in the recruitment process: telephone and Skype interviews are commonplace; assessment centres and advanced personality and aptitude tests the norm; and artificial intelligence is beginning to be used effectively…        

But at the heart of any recruitment process, the interview still remains crucial. And if you can master it then, all things being equal, you will always have an edge over your competition.

There are some sobering findings out there: none more so than the one that states that people make up their minds about a CV in 5.5 seconds. This is scary enough, but even more blood-curdling is that it is reckoned that 70 to 80% of decisions at the interview stage are made in a fraction of that time. So, the maximum that “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” could not be more pertinent.

With this in mind, there’s is a relatively straightforward interview protocol that should always be followed. If you make sure you are on time, in the right place and well briefed, then you will have made a confident beginning. This should be followed up with a firm handshake, good eye contact and a bit of small talk.

If you do this, then you are really laying good foundations; however, groundwork can soon be destroyed if you let technology fool you – and the same goes for telephone and particularly online video interviews.

Preparedness is key

In online video interviews, the good candidates are ready and available on time and have run through the technology first. They are not sitting in front of a window so all that can be seen is a dark shadow; the microphone actually works and they have treated the process seriously and are dressed appropriately. You will never go wrong for any interview if you dress smartly; whereas you risk going wrong if you’re dressed in any other way.

Never arrive for a face-to-face interview more than 15 minuets early. And, just as crucially, never get to any meeting, online or in person, late. If the unthinkable occurs and you hit trouble, then call ahead and let the interviewer know what has happened. When you meet, you must apologise. If you don’t, I can promise that the interviewer will remember.

In the meeting, be professional. Many people panic because they want the job so much; others do so little preparation you wonder why they bothered turning up. Like any other business meeting, you’ll do better if you prepare thoroughly.

Market share, new models and the franchise, technical problems – they are all easily researched online. Employers expect you to do this. Winging it is not a option. And is will be noticed.

One simple tip: listen carefully to the question and answer it. Obvious? Too many do not do this. Interviewers prefer candour – candidates come over much more positively. We hate politicians who dodge the answer – and we won’t do it either.

Be questioning

First impressions are important, but if you have done well then final impressions will be just as important.

Always have at least a couple of questions ready for the end of your meeting. Candidates with no questions at the end are unusual. And people worry about them. Questions might be as simple as “What happens next?” or “How long is your induction programme?” But there must be something you want to know. And something other than: “What’s in it for me?”

Interviews can be stressful, unnatural and difficult things to negotiate. The most successful embrace the interview process; they’re good at it and tend to do better in their careers than the less confident among us.

But the more you interview, the more you meet people in that situation, the more relaxed you become. And the more career opportunities will open up for you.

This is an edited article from the February 2019 edition of the IMI’s magazine. Guy Liddall is Managing Director of Motor Trade Selection. There are tons of career resources to help you advance your career in the automotive sector on the IMI’s website.