Don’t neglect preparation
Nerves are normal, however minimising these will prove key to ensuring you are able to represent yourself to the best of your ability. Confidence most often comes hand in hand with knowledge, so ensure you are in possession of all the information you require to prepare for your interview adequately and also spend a reasonable amount of time researching the company that you are interviewing with.
Whatever the level of position you are applying for and however much experience you bring to the table, your prospective employer will always want to understand your motivation for applying for their vacancy specifically and feel your enthusiasm for not only the role on offer, but also for the business it is based within.
Make sure you have been given the full job description and person specification from the company or recruitment agency and review the company’s website, making note of the company history, it’s product, solution or service base and some key points about the company culture or philosophy if this information is available.
We also recommend that you run a search on the company via your search engine and seek out recent news and other articles or information about the business that is not readily available on their website, thereby showing that you have taken the time to try to come up with something more original to say than rattling off the “about us” page of their website ad verbatim.
Where possible, ascertain the planned format/style of the interview and complete your preparation around this. Most often you will find the interview to be competency-based and there is guidance for this type of interview readily available from the internet.
Think about what it is you want to get out of the interview
It is key to remember that an interview is a two-way process and the role needs to feel like the right move for you, so it is important you ensure you gain as much information as you feel you need to ascertain this. Ask questions and request more detail about anything you are unsure of, so that you too come away from interview with a clear understanding of what the position and company have to offer you.
Well placed questions show employers that you are interested in the position and their company, but also have a good sense of what you are seeking from your next career move.
Plan your route
Arriving late for an interview rarely goes down well and worse still if it is coupled with heightened nerves and/or panicked garbling. Ensure that you have mapped your route and accounted for traffic at the appropriate time. Aim to reach your destination 15 minutes early in order for you to have time to gather your thoughts.
Dress for success
Fashions come and go, but dressing appropriately for an interview and ensuring you are well presented will never fail to make a good first impression and also help you to feel at your best. On most occasions, this means formal business attire and whilst we would always recommend checking if the company has a specific or less formal dress code, we would personally advise that you still dress smartly for interview.
Golden rules include understated or minimal jewellery, clean hands & nails, tidy hair and not too much perfume or aftershave – you want the employer to focus on and remember your ability and personality, not your appearance.
Check the weather
It takes a moment, but following the advice above should be coupled with ensuring your clothing choice is appropriate for the forecasted weather and you won’t end up arriving for your interview soaking wet, overheated or shivering and uncomfortable.
It is becoming increasingly frequent for companies to utilise telephone interviews as the first stage of the selection process and draw up a shortlist of candidates for face to face interviews. It is important that you prepare for these in the same way you would a face to face interview and ensure you take the call in a quiet area, where you are able to remain fully focused and not become distracted. Also remember that with an inability to “see” your interviewer’s expression and read their body language, it is easy to feel awkward when there are any pauses in the conversation, but you should not rush your answers and you do not have to fill these spaces.
Sample questions to consider
Some of the most commonly asked interview questions are shown below and it is worth spending some time to prepare honest and persuasive answers to these.
- What attracted you to this role?
- Why would you like to join our organisation?
- What do you feel that you could bring to this job role?
- Can you tell me more about your responsibilities in your current position and how you feel they relate to this position?
- Why are you considering leaving your present role and employer?
- If you were successful in your application, how would you go about taking up this new challenge?
- What do you perceive as the greatest challenge in this role compared to your present/last role?
On the Day
Give yourself plenty of time – don’t put yourself under extra pressure by having to rush. Always take an up-to-date copy of your CV, together with a notebook and pen. Stand to meet the interviewer and look directly at them, smile, and give a firm handshake – this shows confidence.
- Be positive and upbeat
- Imagine yourself being successful and getting the role
- Watch your body language – e.g. don’t cross your arms (it gives the impression of putting up a barrier between you and the interviewer); make frequent eye contact; good posture is important
- Listen and absorb the key points.
- Reply to any questions clearly and concisely
- Be courteous to everyone you meet as you don’t know who you may come across in the corridor
- Be honest about your ability and thoughts on the role
- Let your mind wander
- Be afraid to sell yourself
Remember to thank the interviewer for seeing you and again shake their hand firmly and confirm that you want the job.
Remember to ask about the follow up procedure and when you can expect to have some feedback, in addition ensure that you know if there will be another interview before a decision is made. Why not follow up the interview with a thank you latter and an overview of why you feel that you should be successful for the position? It is not often that this is done and could make you stand out from the crowd.
If you are unsuccessful it’s still worth going back to the company to get their feedback on how they felt the interview went as you can often pick up very helpful tips on how to improve your performance.
Remember that if you want to succeed at your interview you must be confident and be prepared! Every interview is a learning experience and each one teaches you a little bit more about what to say and do and what to avoid. If you are unsuccessful then don’t be too dismayed – there is always next time and as your interview technique improves the more likely it is that you will get that job.