The basic premise of any architect jobs interview is to give the Partner or Practice Lead you are meeting a few clear ideas about what you can do for their architecture practice. How will you help them succeed and grow? This may be your only opportunity to sell yourself; so carefully-considered and well-structured answers are critical to making the right, lasting impression.
Dress Smartly - Be On Time
You have one chance to make a good first impression. Turning up late, or being inappropriately dressed can harm your chances of getting the job before you've even spoken a word. Get there 10-15 minutes early so you can compose yourself, run through what you're going to say in the interview and get yourself prepared.
Do Your Research
Find out as much as you can about the architectural practice, their ethos, partners, employees and their clients and most importantly, the person who’s interviewing you. The more information you have the more ready you’ll be. An Architect who has clearly done their homework appears enthusiastic, hard-working, prepared and reliable.
Try To Relax
Try to be early for your interview, even if it means sitting in a coffee shop across the road beforehand. Being in a rush to make the appointment is a guaranteed way to increase your stress levels, so plan your journey the night before.
Small Talk Can Be Good
Being friendly and chatty shows confidence, likeability and can even put the interviewer at ease. Showing genuine interest in your interviewer will also increase rapport and help the meeting go more smoothly.
You should have a few standard mini pitches and your elevator pitch nailed and down pat before you walk in the door. These are those answers to questions you know you're going to get asked. have a few anecdotes, examples and be specific in those. Don't tell the story, but sell the outcome.
What makes you their must-have / stand-out applicant? Be brave and be bold making your claims but don't overdo it. There's a fine line between being confident and being arrogant.
Listen First - Then Speak
The stress of an interview is enough to set your mind racing with all the scenarios and outcomes possible. But while your interviewer is speaking you should not be second-guessing their opinion of you, you should be listening intently. Listening is one of the key skills that most fall down on. It's only by listening that you will be able to give a full, articulate and meaningful answer.
Framing Your Past Experiences
Being asked to ‘describe a time when’ is highly likely. Try to recall instances when you’ve shown qualities that would be pertinent to the job you're after. How did you react? What was the outcome? How did you make a difference to that outcome and use specifics.
Your CV lists all your achievements and has already shown the interviewer what you can do and have done in the past. What you need to do now is to share how you are going to help their practice in the future. Tell the interviewer where you see yourself being most successful and why. What's your secret sauce? Everyone has one. Let them know that you understand their practice, the way it works and the ideas and philosophies it wins business with. Take three examples of your own past experiences and articulate how those experiences can be used to influence your future success at this particular practice
Answer The Question You Wish They’d Asked
You may not be asked to describe a situation where you performed particularly well, but if you can recall one, you may regret it if you don’t bring it up. If it’s relevant and impressive, share it. If you aren't asked the question you wanted to answer... think of a way to bring it into an answer when responding to another question where you can bring it in to demonstrate a point to answer that question.
Be Polite To Everyone
It’s not just the interviewer you have to impress; be courteous to everyone you meet inside the practice. Someone mentioning how you didn’t say “thank you’ when they held the door open for you is not going to look good. Not engaging with the receptionist or person who brings you a drink will appear rude. Remember, although they might not directly make the hiring decision, your interviewer might ask them for their impressions of you and validate an opinion they want to form.
Ask Pertinent, Insightful Questions
Questions show you're engaged in the firm and care about the position. You have to show a keen interest in the practice and willingness to learn about the company, the culture, the people and your prospects. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions at the end, saying ‘no’ is not an option. Write down as many questions as you can before the interview; but before you ask any, be certain they haven’t already been answered.
Wrap It Up
When your interview is about to wrap up, you need to try and leave the interview in control. You should summarise in an eloquent and succinct way who you are and what you will bring to the role.
Why you will shine in this particular practice and make reference to their culture, staff and environment, company ambitions and how much you understand them and are on board with them. If you can do that, it's a very effective way to end your interview on a high note summarising why they should hire you and why you're the best architect for the job.
I hope this was a helpful checklist to use while preparing for an interview, if you would like to ask us for me for more advice you can contact me for your architect recruitment needs or call me on +44 (0)207 318 5891.
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