Successful Interviews: The Cactus Approach

This guide was originally intended for our candidates at Cactus Search, and is aimed at those in Call Centre Recruitment.  However, we think it’s a pretty great guide for anyone going for an interview. We hope you like it!

So you’ve had a phone call from one of our consultants, and success! You’re through to a face to face interview with our client. Congratulations! Now you get to show them what you’re really made of. But if the nerves are kicking in and you need a push in the right direction, we’ve created a handy guide to interviewing for the job of your dreams

Do your homework – It’s absolutely vital that as soon as you find out which company you’re interviewing for, you find out as much about them as possible. The internet makes this easy – a quick Google search will usually take you straight to their company homepage. Find out a few facts and figures from their latest company information, how well they’ve been performing, and so on, as well as a bit about their history. Being able to relate your skills and achievements to their current performance (and their concerns!) will go a long way with your interviewers. Look up your interviewers on LinkedIn and find out as much as possible about them – it is always flattering to show an interest in the people interviewing you!

Know your industry – So you’re an Operations Manager in a large outsourcer? Or maybe you’re a Call Centre Manager with a great Financial Services background? Or perhaps you’re a Resource Planning Analyst in a utilities call centre? Each of these industries, and each of these jobs, requires a very specific set of skills. That’s why we specialise in call centre recruitment – it’s a niche career market, and you won’t get anywhere by being vague. By all means apply your experience in a variety of ways, but don’t sell yourself short – you’re a contact centre specialist, and that’s why we’ve put you forward for the job.

Think outside the box – While it’s good to show that you’re thinking along the same lines as they are, it’s wise to be able to show that you’ve got plenty of ideas of your own. You need to show that you have drive and are able to think outside the box when there are problems, whilst following their contact centre regulations and company procedures; you’re brave enough to take risks but not afraid to run them by your manager first. Show them this and you’re sure to impress.

Practice Makes Perfect – Some companies will ask you to complete online tests, including personality profiling and SHL tests. These will help them to get an idea of your character and personality before they meet you, and it’s an early chance to impress. Because we care, we’ve provided you with some practice tests, which you can find here. It’s always worth having a practice run with these, particularly if you’ve never done one before, so that you’re sure you won’t be tripped up by an unusual question!

Have examples ready!– It’s all well and good giving everything they say an emphatic ‘yes!’ – although enthusiasm within reason is a must – but you need to be able to give real, detailed examples of times when you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty. Choose these carefully. Don’t just fire anecdotes at them, but think about what they’re asking. There may have been a time when you saved the day, but if it’s not relevant; it’s not going to help. If you’re applying for a sales position, show that you are motivated by money and driving performance with a keen focus on figures. Tailor your examples to the role. They know what they’re looking for, so make sure you’re it!

One particularly scary interviewer...

Take the good with the bad – If they ask about a mistake you’ve made, or a time you’ve done something wrong, don’t lie – but do spin it a little if necessary. For example: how did you recover? What have you learned from it? How have you changed what you do since then? It’s important to show them that you’re a well-rounded individual, who can progress even when times are hard. In today’s post-recession market, we all know that things go wrong – but if you can pick yourself up and move on, you’re bound for success.

It’s all about you – Remember that they’ve asked to see you. You’ve already survived the CV screening, and the telephone interview, so now it’s time to show them what you can do. Talk about what you have done, rather than the company’s achievements, or if you must talk company-wide, show how you were instrumental in that process. Talk about what you have done within your team, while at the same time showing how you stood out from it. It’s a delicate balance between selling yourself and showing off, but at this level of call centre recruitment, your interviewers are looking to recruit the leadership team of the future. Bear in mind that they are looking for career minded individuals who will progress up the ladder as quickly as possible.

Be ready to talk about them – Make sure you have questions prepared for them – the worst thing you can do is respond to ‘do you have any questions for us?’ with a mumbled ‘no.’ And with this, we’re back to the start – because if you’ve done your homework, you’ll undoubtedly have plenty to ask!

And just a few reminders of the fundamental rules of any interview:

  • Be punctual– Arriving fashionably late won’t impress anyone!
  • Dress to impress – It’s an old adage, but it’s true – first impressions really do count.
  • Don’t disparage your current employer –You never know who knows who – and besides, it’s not professional.

Last but not least – good luck!

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