How do you Demonstrate Commercial Awareness at Interview?


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Commercial awareness is a skill that is growing in demand across all sectors, including the Motor Trade. Being Commercially Aware means that you have an understanding of the business you’re working for, you recognise how it generates profit, what makes it a success but also the challenges it faces. In addition you would also have knowledge about the wider marketplace and the business environment you’re operating in.

In a competitive market place, employers seek to employ candidates with commercial awareness because it is likely to influence the way they work. For example; a commercially aware Vehicle Sales Executive would recognise the factors that might prevent customers from wanting to spend their money and will adapt their sales and negotiating techniques to try and overcome this.  

Commercial awareness isn’t just important in Sales positions though, employers want their staff in the marketing team, finance department and service department to all possess commercial awareness so that collectively, the business outperforms its competitors and continues to grow.

If you were faced with a question at interview which were designed to determine whether or not you were commercially aware, would you know how to answer it?

Don’t fear. We’ve got you covered with the following tips.

  1. Research the Company – This is standard procedure before any interview but there are some key things to research from a commercial perspective such as how it generates profit, what makes it different from its competitors, key milestones in the growth of the business and who it is run by. This kind of information will typically be found on the website’s ‘about us’ or ‘company history’ pages but you might also be able to gather this information from blog posts or the company’s social media pages.

  2. Follow Industry News – The more knowledge you have, the easier it will be to showcase it during an interview. Immerse yourself in the latest industry news well in advance of your interview by signing up for google alerts, following industry leaders and influencers on social media and following relevant news sites. If you have a constant feed of updates you’ll start sub consciously taking on board the information and will have a vast knowledge to draw from in no time. Understanding the wider industry is important because this will affect the business’ ability to perform.

  3. Understand the Competition – It is important that you are familiar with their biggest competitors so you can discuss the companies in relation to each other during interview. This knowledge will also help you to understand the reasons why the business does certain things and the behaviour of its customers, both of which are important to its success. Delve deep when carrying out your research into the competition because this is something that will stand out to your interviewer. Equally, the competition will face many of the same challenges as the business you’re applying to work for and you’ll be able to discuss their approach to them.

  4. Be Informed about the Economy – The economic climate usually directly impacts the turnover of a business for example; the uncertainty surrounding Brexit had a significant impact on car manufacturing in the UK and a knock on effect on buyers confidence. Whether the UK economy is thriving or going through a period of decline businesses will alter their approach accordingly and it will affect their bottom line. It is wise to stay up to date with economic affairs and sourcing your news from a reliable news outlet such as The Financial Times, Business Insider or BBC News.

  5. Prepare and Practice – There are many ways a recruiter might try and gauge your commercial awareness during an interview. They may challenge you with direct questions such as: What do you know about the Company? What do you think our biggest challenges are in today’s market place? Or If you had a budget of X how would you invest in our business? Alternatively, they may word questions to learn about your views on current affairs. It is best to prepare for both scenarios not just by researching but also planning possible answers to a range of questions you could be asked and practicing them out loud.

Commercial Awareness is an attractive quality for employers because it ensures their staff will make informed decisions based on objective of making the business money. New starters who have strong commercial awareness are more likely to hit the ground running and existing employees who possess it have a deep understanding of the climate they are working in and how their role can truly support the business to prosper in its current environment.

For more interview tips simply check out our blog page.

If you are looking to progress in your career in the Automotive industry and are seeking a new opportunity you’ve come to the right place.

With more than 1,400 live vacancies spanning all aspects of the Motor Trade UK wide, we are bound to have an opportunity for you.

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