Preparing for a landscape job Interview by Stephen Ensell

GoLandscape EdNews & Events

Getting the call that you have been shortlisted for the landscape job and they want an interview brings two emotions, excitement that you have got this far, and the onset of nerves that you got this far! But remember, you beat most of the competition and they liked your CV. but, you are only half way there, now you have to prove what you said on your CV and convince them in person you are the best person for the position! To make the most of this opportunity and make an impression, preparation is key.

Interview style

The company will send through the details regarding the interview, if you have applied for a ‘hands on’ position, then don’t be surprised if they want you to undertake a practical landscaping exercise of some sort, so prepare and dress accordingly. A face to face interview is still very common, usually taking place at the employer’s premises, where they can chat and question you on your suitability for the position. Interviews can last anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours, but do not rule out other interview methods like telephone or video interviews.

Do your homework

Show you have taken the time to look at their business and try to understand what they do, the areas of landscaping they may specialise in, the type of projects they have carried out. You will be able to demonstrate this by demonstrating this into the answers you give to questions. Many companies put their staff on their website, have a look at who you might be working with and positively comment on this. Companies promote their values and the culture of their landscape company (especially on social media and if they have a blog), see what you think of this, it will all help you form a picture of the company and some questions to ask them.

Its all in the detail

The job description is the single biggest aid in your preparation, this is what you will be doing and what the company are looking for, and what the interview will be based on. You should know it inside out and be able to line yourself up and demonstrate how you fulfil what they are looking for. This will also give you a good idea of the questions they will ask you. Remember, in some ways this vacancy is a problem for the company, it is a gap that needs filling, and you are the solution!

Questions

Whilst the interview is a great opportunity to sell yourself, remember this is a two-way process. It’s not just about them asking you questions, its also about you asking questions back, so make sure you have a few prepared, it shows you are inquisitive and are taking an interest in the company. If you are a career changer, you will be asked why you are you want to join the landscape industry, so explain what has drawn you to this industry and highlight your transferable skills.

The big day

When the big day arrives, remember the key is to make a good first impression, so make sure you consider the following.

  • Dress appropriately, smartly for a formal interview and appropriately for a practical interview (remember, safety boots and gloves if you have them)
  • Make sure you arrive on time, better yet get there 10-15 minutes before, so know where you are going, even try a practice run to get to the premises a day or two before.
  • Body language is important, and you may need to practice this, but greet them with a smile and firm handshake and look them in the eye, avoid folding you arms and fidgeting and just like you grandmother says, sit up straight and don’t slouch
  • Listen to the questions being asked and answer them concisely, with examples of your own skills, if you don’t know, say you don’t know, it’s better to be honest. And don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand the question
  • Avoid interrupting or cutting off the interviewer at all costs, you’ll be keen to tell them how great you are, but let them finish

And finally….

Follow-up with a thank you and a reiteration of how interested you are in the role. Hopefully they liked you (and you liked them) and you get a job offer. Look through the offer, start dates, and if you are happy, confirm in writing that you accept. If you don’t get offered the job, try to be positive, Interviews are wonderful experience builders, ask for feedback (if they don’t supply any), on what they liked and why they didn’t feel you were suitable, it will all be valuable going forward. Most important of all, get back on the horse and apply for your next job.

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