No matter how any interviews you’ve attended, they never become more fun, but a little preparation can make this stressful situation a little easier to handle. Here are some tips to help you brush up on your interview skills so you are better able to showcase your unique talents during the next interview.
Know as much as possible
- Go through the job specification. Look at the skills requirements and start putting together talking points on how your experience and training has prepared you to meet these requirements. Look at both the technical and soft skills.
- Visit the company’s website and spend some time familiarizing yourself with their services and history. Then expand your search – look for news articles, press releases, annual reports (if it’s a publicly trading company). Check out their social media to get a feel for the brand culture
- Check your LinkedIn connections, try and find someone in your network who has worked at the company and might be willing to tell you more about it
- Know your strengths and be able to explain how they will benefit the company
Know your weaknesses. Everyone has them. The key is to focus on things you can improve on, and explain what you are doing to overcome them
Present the best version of yourself
- Practice speaking in English on a regular basis if it’s not your home language, it will help you express yourself well in interviews
- Ask a trusted friend or family member to role play an interview with you, and have them evaluate your answers. You are looking for someone who will give you constructive tips, not someone having a laugh
- Practice showcasing your abilities in a confident way, without coming across as arrogant
- Speak at a tempo that is easy to understand and listen too. Going too fast (as tends to happen when one gets nervous) might make it difficult for the interviewer to keep up
- Decide what you will wear ahead of time, and make sure it fits with the corporate image of the company
- Get a good night’s rest before the interview
- Have breakfast or lunch. You don’t want your belly to rumble during interview. Remember to brush your teeth so you don’t have coffee breath
- Arrive 15 minutes early (unless instructed to be even earlier to go through security proceedings). Try not to be late, but if circumstances are beyond your control, phone in to inform the interviewers that you are having trouble
- Your interview starts the moment you arrive on the premises. Be fully dressed and prepared. Be polite to security personnel and anyone you find in reception
- Bring your own pen you are comfortable writing with. If you need to complete documents a pen will usually be provided, but accidents do happen and pens sometime dry up or leak ink. It never hurts to be prepared with your own
- Do not bring family members with you to the interview. If you must, have them stay in the car.
- Act professionally while you wait for the interviewer. Switch off your phone
- Breathe deeply and evenly, this will calm your heartrate and nerves
Greet your interviewers with a firm, confident handshake. You’ve done all your preparation. You’ve got this
Qualities that make up great candidates
- Willingness to continue development once they become employees. What more can you learn to help you be a better employee? Are you working on a degree, completing a course, or brushing up on your skills for free online?
- You can never go wrong with showcasing honesty, integrity and empathy
- Ability to demonstrate soft skills such as problem solving, handling pressure, delivering on deadlines, teamwork, willingness to compromise and accept help
- Ambition – know why you want the job and know where you would like your career to go
- Talk about what excites you about your chosen industry / profession. Don’t be afraid to show passion
Never speak ill of current / past employers or colleagues. Not only does this make you look bad, but you never know who your interviewer may discuss you with. If it’s a small industry, they might know the same people you do
During the interview:
- Be ready to talk for 1-2 minutes per question. The most common interview problem is over-talking. Learn to read people; if it seems the interviewer s losing interest, switch topics
- Avoid giving yes or no answers. Always explain your response
- Always tell the interviewer your most impressive and outstanding qualifications / achievements first
- Prepare answers to some of the usual questions beforehand:
- What do you think you can contribute to this company?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your immediate and future job objectives?
- What other jobs are you considering?
- How long would it take for you to make a contribution in this job?
- What interests you most about this job?
- What are the accomplishments that you are proud of?
- Which of your previous jobs have you liked the best?
- What didn’t you like about your previous position?
- Tell me about yourself.
- What would your direct employer / colleagues tell me about you?
- What would you like to be doing five years from now?
- What kind of manager do you like to work for?
- How do you describe your management style?
- What are your hobbies and outside interests?
- Are you planning to continue your education?
- It’s okay to use your hands (but don’t fidget) to describe something. If you are making a gesture – make it a big one. This adds visual interest and deepens your breathing
- Listen hard – Don’t answer what you haven’t been asked and don’t interrupt
- Be aware of your own body language – Positive body language includes, a direct gaze, firm handshake, calm (not fidgety) hands and feet, a ready smile, leaning towards the interviewer etc. Negative mannerism include, crossing your arms (shows defensiveness), touching your face (implies deceptiveness), leaning back in your chair or handling objects on the interviewers desk (shows over confidence) etc.
- Make a proper eye contact with the interviewer. It’ll show you more confident and leave a good impression. If there is more than one interviewer available, then don’t just focus on one. Shift your focus and give all equal attention
- If you don’t understand any question properly or have any doubt in mind then ask them to repeat or elaborate on the question. Don’t answer when you only have a vague understanding of what they are looking for
- Don’t make negative statements about yourself. Focus on positive things and don’t make apologies for what you don’t have
- Don’t argue with the interviewer, no matter what
Don’t lie about qualifications / experience / achievements you don’t have. Chances are good the interviewer knows enough about the position to catch you in the lie, or conflicting information might come out during the background check
Use the opportunity to ask questions
- What would the goals or deliverables be for the first three months if you are successful? Know what they expect you to perform well at
- What is the company culture like? This will give you insight on how well you will integrate into the team. Or at least point you to which interests to try and cultivate so you can make small talk’
- What are the possibilities for growth / advancement?
- Why (and where) did person who held this specific job go?
- Who would you report to and what is this person’s position?
- What are the skills and attributes of an individual that is most likely to succeed in a job at this company?
- Who will your competition be in the next five years?
Don’t ask questions about sick leave, benefits, holidays, etc, until you are offered the job
- Glassdoor (2018, August 2) 9 Reasons Why You Didn’t Make It Past The First Interview https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/blog/21713-2/
- Adzuna (2018, August 6) Top 10 Tips on Dressing For A Job Interview https://www.adzuna.co.uk/blog/2018/08/06/top-10-tips-on-dressing-for-a-job-interview/
- The Muse, How Do I Answer Interview Questions With the Right Amount of Detail? https://www.themuse.com/advice/ask-a-real-recruiter-answer-interview-questions-with-detail
- Dumb Little Man (2016, December 14) 8 Interview Tips For Introverts https://www.dumblittleman.com/interview-tips-for-introverts
- The Telegraph (2017, February 9) 50 Best Interview Tips
- Amtec, Toughest Interview Question: Tell Me About Yourself https://www.amtec.us.com/blog/toughest-interview-question-tell-me-about-yourself?utm_source=amtec-staffing-twitter&utm_medium=socialmedia
- Forbes (2013, March 26) 14 Tips For Staying Calm During A Job Interview
- Womanitely (2014, June 9) 7 Ways to Tell the Difference Between Being Arrogant and Being Confident
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