Interview Tips

Job search techniques change, the labour market changes and job descriptions change. What remains constant is the job interview. Interviews give you a brilliant chance to sell yourself.  With some preparation your interview could go really well, and you could land the job of your dreams!  

The first 30 seconds of a job interview are the most important - so if you want to be a cut above the rest you need to be on the ball.

Here are 10 tips that we have put together to help you to interview more successfully:

1. First impressions count

Greet your interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake. Give good eye contact. Try to make small talk during the walk from the reception area to the interview room. You have to sell yourself before you can sell anything else, and the first 30 seconds are when the interviewer subconsciously makes decisions about whether they like you or not, and whether you will fit into the team.

2. Be prepared

Re-read your CV and the job specification just before the interview. Do your advance research thoroughly and look at the company website.  Google the company and look at the LinkedIn profiles of your interviewers.

  • Research the organisation.
  • Look at their website and read their news.
  • Find any investment and general news about them.
  • Find out how the interview will be structured. Will there be any aptitude, psychometric or technical tests?
  • Take an extra copy of your CV.
  • Make a list of questions to ask. Take the list into the interview if necessary.
  • Prepare answers for standard interview questions, such as:
    • Why do you want to work for us?
    • What do you know about our company?
    • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Take any references, code or screen shots of work done.
  • Dress formally.  Never be more casually dressed than your interviewers.
  • Make sure you know exactly where the interview will be. Plan your route well in advance, and know about any other details like security passes and parking.
  • Leave extra time for travelling delays.  You never know what will happen along the way, so give yourself lots of time to work around situations that may occur.
  • Definitely ask your Consultant for advice.  They should thoroughly brief you anyway, but if there is anything that you want to know more about, be sure to ask.

3. Be concise

Answer questions properly - even if you need a few moments to yourself to collect your thoughts. It's better to say that you need a minute to think about your answer, rather than speak instantly and regret it afterwards.  Interviewers really like candidates who are thorough, and a thoughtful response to a question indicates that you take them seriously, and are likely to act in the same way if you get the job.

4. Why should they hire you?

Most job adverts will list the qualities or competencies that they're looking for - a team worker, a good communicator - so it's up to you to think of examples of how you can demonstrate these skills. Be ready to talk about what you could bring to the role.  Have at least three strong well-rehearsed points about yourself, that you can relate to the company, and to the job on offer.

Increasingly, employers are looking to create context in the interviewing process, and a really good technique for you to use is the S.T.A.R. technique.  How this works is that you think of a Situation where you contributed meaningfully, the Task(s) that you identified/created to solve the problem, the Action(s) that you took to positively influence change, and the Results that occurred subsequent to your intervention.  Simple and very effective.

5. Be positive

Your interviewer will be thinking about what it would be like to work with you, so the last thing they'll want to hear is you talking about your boss or current colleagues in a negative way. Interviewers like to see someone who enjoys a challenge and is enthusiastic, so always present yourself as a proactive and grounded person.  If they see you as someone who can make a real difference in a positive way, they are more likely to want you to join them.

6. Remember your body language

It is not what you say, but how you say it! During the interview, don't fold your arms and lean back or look to the floor! Sit upright and maintain good eye contact. Use your hands, and lean forward when making a point. Some people can't think and control their body language at the same time, which is why advanced preparation is always a good idea.

7. Expect the unexpected

Your interviewer may try to catch you off guard. It isn't easy to plan for difficult questions such as "How would your colleagues describe you?", so try to appear relaxed and in control while you think through your answer. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question if necessary, but don't evade it.  Give a thoughtful and complete answer that demonstrates that you are confident, and that you took the question seriously.

8. Develop rapport

Show energy, a sense of humour and a smile. Being positive and enthusiastic is always a good state to be in as it builds confidence in you in others. Ask your interviewer questions about themselves, and any important issues that the business is facing.

9. Clarify anything you are unsure of

If you are not certain about what is meant by a particular question, ask for clarification. At the end, ask the interviewer if there is anything else that he or she would like to know about you. Do not be afraid to ask when you are likely to hear further from them.  Let them know that you are definitely interested in the position, and that you would welcome the opportunity to progress to the next stage.  Ask them if there is anything else that they would like to know, and also state that you would be prepared to consider seriously an offer of employment if an offer was extended to you.

10. Show appreciation 

Tell the interviewer clearly why you are interested in the company and the job opportunity. Ask them for a business card and follow it up by sending a "thank-you" e-mail or letter, saying how much you enjoyed meeting them and how interested you are. Take the opportunity to detail the key advantages you bring to their organisation, and be sure to emphasise how you can help them to reach their most important goals.

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