Interviews require research and planning therefore good preparation is the key to success. So to help you give a winning performance here’s some tips on interview preparation, polishing your technique and calming your nerves….
Some of it may seem obvious but because most people don’t interview very often, it’s worth reminding yourself of the process.
Review your CV and anticipate answers to the most common interview questions such as “tell me about yourself” or “talk me through your CV” which are normally asked to ease you in.
Start with a strong statement, such as: “I am a negotiator with 3 years’ experience in residential sales in South West London.” Then follow this with a summarised chronological story showing how you got to your current career position.
Consider how you’ll explain tricky parts of your CV, such as short jobs or leaving an employer.
Carefully read through the job and person specification, identifying what skills, interests and experiences the employer is looking for. Prepare by practising your answers. Write it down, read it aloud, record yourself or have a mock interview.
Think about how you’re going to address the more tricky questions, such as, “where would you like to be in five years’ time?” or “what are your weaknesses?”
If you’re unsure who will be interviewing you contact the recruiter to find out. If you’re expecting an informal chat with a HR person and you get 2 senior people grilling you, it’s likely to throw you.
Read the organisation’s website, social media profiles and key literature and prepare your views and ideas.
Research the news, trends, competitors, history and opportunities of the organisation and its job sector;
Prepare questions to ask the interviewer.
Before the interview
Choose your interview outfit, polish your shoes and consider grooming things like getting a haircut. Appearances shouldn’t matter but they do so dress well. It can increase your confidence and boost your professional image.
Get plenty of sleep and avoid excessive alcohol consumption the night before. On the day eat a good healthy breakfast and avoid too much caffeine.
Plan your journey, travelling times and transport options. Aim to arrive 10 minutes early. Have a copy of the job description and the person specification and a copy of your CV on you. Read through them again before you go in.
Have the details of the person that you must ask for upon arrival.
During the interview
Remember the interview is a two way process so consider what sense you get from the interviewer. Be aware of the interview’s structure, and the fact that they often begin with easier questions such as ‘tell us about your time at university’
Generally you should answer questions clearly and concisely and be as enthusiastic as possible.
Don’t be afraid to pause and think so you can highlight your best attributes, experiences and achievements, based around the skills that you’ve identified as important to the organisation. Give practical examples.
Display positive body language, smile frequently, retain eye-contact and let your personality shine.
Don’t badmouth any previous employers.
Make sure you’re clear about following up after interview. Many organisations often take longer than they say to get back to you, so it may be worth saying: “So you’ll let me know by next Monday? If I don’t hear by Wednesday is it ok to follow up?”
After the interview
As soon as you can, find a quiet place and write down as many of the questions that you were asked as you can remember. Rank yourself on how you answered them on a scale of one to ten. Work on the answers in order from lowest to highest so that you can improve for future interviews.
Call your recruiter to discuss the interview and give feedback. Ask any questions that may be outstanding.
Whether or not you are successful in securing the job, look at is as a positive opportunity to engage people, grow your network and improve for next time round. If you’re not successful then ask for feedback.
If you’re successful, well done. You can start to think about the second round of interviews.