The interview process: tips and tricks for candidates

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Your resume included all the necessary skills and experience, and you’ve nailed the application, now you’re one of the lucky few to be invited to attend an interview.
 
If you feel like you lack the required interview skills and need a few tips to make sure you present yourself in the best possible light, we’ve got you covered!
 

With over 10 years of experience in the dealership recruitment industry, we know exactly what employers want to see during an interview. Here we share some of our top interview tips and tricks that are sure to come in handy.

The importance of having a good interview

Whether you’re applying for a role in a truck dealership, heavy equipment dealership or farm machinery dealership, the importance of having a good interview remains the same.
 
Most dealerships usually interview about five candidates for a role and often conduct reference checks, but around 80% of their final decision will be based on how well a candidate presents in an interview.
 
interviewprocess | Teamrecruit
You should never underestimate the value of your first face-to-face impression. Interviewers will form an opinion about how well you’ll fit into the dealership within the first few minutes of meeting you and you only get one shot at it. So, make sure you think about all the subtle social cues you’re putting forward, from your body language to your tone of voice.
 

There’s no question that an interview is a stressful situation. It’s one of the few scenarios where you will be put directly in the spotlight and judged on every word you say. The pressure can prove too much for many candidates; however it is important to hold your nerve as best as possible, as most employers simply won’t employ someone if they don’t interview well.

Preparation is key

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. If you want to put your best foot forward in an interview, you’ll need to do your research.
 
In the lead up to the interview, do some research about the dealership. Visit their website to find out about the history of the company, their size and locations, and what the company vision is. It can also help to find out who the Dealer Principal is, along with the names of the senior managers.
 
It’s also good to find out if the dealership specialises in any products or services. For example, while most farm machinery dealerships will be a John Deere dealer, they may have a specialised offering like selling chrome sprayers or other niche market implements.
 
Any information you can take into the interview which demonstrates that you’ve done your research will be a big tick for most employers. It shows that you want the job and that you’ve invested some effort and care, qualities which you’re likely to also bring to your work.
 
The dealership website should also give you an idea of the dress code. If photos show the team dressed up in suits and ties, make sure you wear a shirt and jacket. If they’re all wearing company polos, you might be able to lose the jacket, but you should still go with a button-up shirt or nice polo. If you’re still unsure, just ask the recruitment manager what the dress code is.
 

It’s also important to arrive to the interview on time. Aim to get there early, and wait in your car or a nearby cafe until it’s time to go in. Arriving 5 to 10 minutes before the scheduled interview is ideal. Arriving earlier can make you seem pushy or impatient, while arriving at the exact time of the interview will be viewed as being late.

Interviewing is a two-way street

Interviews aren’t only for the employer to find out more about the candidate. They’re also a chance for the candidate to find out more about the employer and decide if the role is right for them.
 

In an interview, you should be given the opportunity to ask a few questions. Use this as your chance to gain some control over the process and get on the front foot. Try to ask questions that will help you find out more about the dealership, while also allowing you to demonstrate why you’d be a great fit for the role and business.

 

Here are some examples of good questions we’ve seen candidates ask in interviews that tend to be well-received by employers:

 
Example questionWhy it works
What are your expectations for the role during the first 30-60 days, 6 months and first year?
  • Gives you a good indication of what the role will look like.
  • Shows the employer that you’re trying to visualise how you’ll fit into the role and decide if it’s for you.
  • Forces the employer to put some benchmarks around what they want – something they may not have thought about.
What do you think are the most important qualities someone needs to excel in the role?
  • Shows you’ve thought about the role to see if you’re the right fit for it.
  • Gives the employer the opportunity to go deeper into the role and provide some extra insights.
  • Gives you the chance to sell yourself by explaining how you fit those qualities.
What are the biggest challenges facing the company or department right now?
  • Enhances your understanding of the business.
  • Provides an opportunity to show how your experience will help to resolve that issue.
What are the biggest opportunities facing the company or department right now?
  • Enhances your understanding of the business.
  • Provides a platform for you to show how your experience can help them take advantage of that opportunity.
Does the company have an expectation of the salary that will be offered to the successful candidate?
  • Allows you to uncover and align salary expectations early in the process.
  • Tip: Save any discussions about salary for towards the end of the interview when you’ve built rapport to ensure it doesn’t come across the wrong way.
What is the next step of the process from here?
  • Establishes expectations about how long you’ll need to wait before you hear back.
  • Provides an indication about how best to follow up after the interview.

Following up after the interview

You may be eager to know the outcome of your interview, but it’s important to follow proper etiquette post-interview.
 
While you don’t want to be overbearing, sending a quick thank you email the day after the interview can be a nice touch. Keep it short and sweet, thanking them for their time, letting them know that it was great meeting them and finding out more about the dealership, and encouraging them to contact you if they need anything from you. This will show them that you’re grateful for the opportunity and still keen on the role.
 

If you need to contact them for a progress update, do it in line with the expectations they’ve set. If at the interview they said they would be conducting more interviews over the next week, don’t contact them after 3 days. However, if they said you’ll hear from them in the next couple of days and by day 3 or 4 you still haven’t heard anything, it may be worth checking in with them to see how the process is moving along.

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