"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail". Never was a truer word spoken, especially with regards to interviews.
But it is probably the most common reason that clients give when turning down applicants. And how difficult can it be?
You cannot pretend you are a different person, acquire new skills quickly enough to convince in an interview or learn to succeed in every assessment centre. But you can at least prepare properly and thoroughly for an interview.
We live in a world where research is now incredibly easy. Where anyone can find out the fortunes of most companies, of the franchises they represent and of the main issues facing the industry.
So how should you prepare?
Before anything else, make sure that you are not late. This takes preparation.
If you have Sat-Nav then it will make your life easier, but it won't be risk-free -do make sure your system recognises the postcode and has it in the correct area. New dealers in particular are often not on maps, especially if maps are out of date. And if you rely blindly on your Sat-Nav there is nothing more panicky than it failing to work properly.
Make sure that you leave enough time to get to your destination. Get there half an hour early so you have some headroom if things go wrong.
Now look at the company. Look on their website – where are their other locations, which franchises do they have? How do they set out their trading style and study their sections entitled "About Us" and "Careers".
Google the company. Customer care issues, recommendations, events, charity donations, they all help. Forums, rating sites, news articles, planning applications all help you build up a picture.
Do the same for the franchise. If you work in the same franchise then you will know more, but you will be expected to! Understand the market share today and how it was last year and before. In other words, where is the franchise heading?
Now work on what you know and what you want to find out.
First of all, look at what you would be expected to know and study it, learn it off by heart. Whether it is sales stats, technician efficiency, part availability or debtor days. There are figures you should all know that you can either blag (not good and you will be found out) or learn (and the truth is generally easier to remember).
And what do you want to find out? If you are asked for any questions at the end, the worst answer is "No, not really". If the only thing you can think of is "How do you develop careers?" then good, it always shows some willing, but there must be other topics. Think about them before so you don't leave with the interviewer thinking "No questions, no interest" or even worse "No spark".
Opportunities are hard enough at the moment, if you prepare properly you will improve your chances substantially. But if you fail to do so you will almost guarantee you will fall short.