Interviews can be intimidating, particularly if you’re not comfortable with selling yourself. While it is challenging, there are things you can do to prepare and excel during the process.
In this blog, we’ve covered everything you should be doing on the run up to and during the interview. More importantly, we’ve also included some advice on what you shouldn’t be doing as well.
4 Key Things to Remember
Be social – You should demonstrate that you’d be a pleasure to work with
Be professional – Your presentation must be sharp, efficient, and polished
Be human – You need to present yourself as genuine and authentic
The details matter – From your outfit to your posture, everything signals information
What to Do at an Interview
Make a Good First Impression
Walk into the interview with a smile on your face and some polite small talk to set the tone.
Some studies indicate that interviewers make up their minds about candidates in the first five minutes, and then spend the rest of the interview looking for things to confirm that decision. Hence why first impressions really do matter.
Make Eye Contact
Failing to make eye contact seems like such a simple mistake but it could suggest that you’re not engaging in the conversation, or that you’re not confident in your abilities.
Eye contact shows that you are paying attention and is a vital tactic you should use whenever you meet someone new. Strike a balance though – you don’t want to come across as intense.
Take Your Time
Nothing highlights a person’s nerves more than talking too quickly or rushing their answers. Take your time and put across the key points to convey why you are perfect for this role.
This might not be as obvious but going into the interview with a positive mindset can significantly reduce anxiety. Remind yourself that you’ve been asked to attend this interview based on your skills and experience in order to boost your confidence.
Don’t be Scared of Mistakes
If you do make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. If you don’t have a certain skill, don’t try to ignore it or lie, address it head on and tell them you’re a quick learner.
Employers are not looking for the perfect interview, they are looking for people who can be adaptable and a good fit for their company.
Be Mindful of Body Language
Sitting up straight and opening up your shoulders will help you appear more confident and allow you to project your voice. From an interviewer’s perspective, speaking to a person who is hunched over and continuously fidgeting just creates an awkward environment.
Always appear interested in what your interviewer has to say. Making notes will impress them as it signals you are willing to learn about the business.
Do Your Research
Research is one of the most important aspects to interview preparation and an in-depth knowledge of their business and industry can help you overcome even the trickiest of questions. Search through their website, careers pages and news outlets to gather a picture of your prospective employer. Make sure you do your preparation well in advance to avoid any last minute panic.
Look For Clues
Re-read the job description and try to envisage what questions could be asked. For example, if they are looking for a manager, they could ask you to describe a time when you displayed leadership qualities.
Prepare to Answer Questions
This one sounds obvious but make a list of all the possible questions you may be asked and practice how you will answer them. Your interviewer isn’t looking for you to recite a stock answer but having a general idea of what you would like to talk about will help you if your mind goes blank.
Prepare to Answer Behavioural Based Questions
Many recruiters use the STAR model (Situation, Task, Action and Result) to assess competency. You will be asked to set the scene, followed by the tasks required of you.
You will then describe your actions surrounding the task and then lead onto the result of your efforts. Some interviewers would also like to know what you would have done differently given the chance.
Turn Negatives into Positives
Your interviewer might ask you to describe a time you didn’t like something. Don’t fall into the trap of just focusing on the negatives. It’s fine to be honest but you must end on a positive note. For example, “The training did require a lot of time and energy, but I was 100% committed to it because this is my chosen future career. All the hard work has brought me to where I want to be.”
Prepare to Answer Technical Questions
In some scenarios, you will be required to answer technical questions. You will usually be made aware of this prior to the interview. Technical questions provide a different sort of challenge but the same methods will apply. Practice makes perfect.
Prepare For Group Tasks
If you are asked to perform in a group task, you need to display great teamwork, initiative and communication skills. Work as a team and contribute to the scenario where you can. If others are struggling, you could display some leadership qualities by helping them to integrate in the task.
Dress For the Job You Want
Dressing professionally for a job interview is standard practice. Your clothes should not be too tight, revealing or baggy as you could signal that you don’t look after your appearance.
Choose and iron your outfit the night before to avoid any last minute disasters. On the morning of the interview, take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself, do I look smart?
Plan Your Route
Being late for an interview will get things off to a very bad start and add to your stress levels. If you’re driving, you could perform a test run to roughly work out timings. Just make sure you do the test run at the same time you would for the interview. Rush hour or school traffic can seriously affect journey times.
If you’re using public transport, make sure you’re looking at the right timetables and check the travel company’s website in case there are any planned strikes or disruptions.
Unless it’s a new role, there will be someone out there who has been in your position before. Their knowledge could provide invaluable insights on what to expect in the process moving forward. If it is a new position, you will still be able to reach out to people who work at the business for further advice.
Job interviews aren’t just about finding out if you’re the right person, they are also about working out if the company is right for you. Some well thought out questions will help you stand out from the crowd – your interviewer might even give you some further understanding as to how the company operates.
It’s also worth researching their careers page before the interview to avoid the interviewer answering questions which you could have easily found for yourself.
Think like a marketer. You need to highlight the best parts about yourself to make the interviewer buy into you. Recruiters are not only looking for someone who would be good at that job, but someone who can fit in well within their team. You will be working alongside them after all if successful.
Close on a Positive Note
End the interview by thanking them for their time, reiterate that you would really like the job, and that you’re excited to hear back from them.
Follow Up With a Thank You
After every interview, send a quick email or note to the interviewer to thank them again for their time. If the interviewer has narrowed the candidates down to you and one other, it could be the thing which makes you stand out and clinches your success.
What Not to Do at an Interview
Showing up late to an interview is unprofessional. Allow enough time to get to the interview with 10 minutes to spare. Showing up late to your interview could suggest that you don’t see the interview as a priority.
You should make every effort to communicate with the interviewer if you know that you will be late. If you let them know, they will likely try and accommodate you.
Attend With No Knowledge of the Business
Employers are looking for candidates who have made the effort to research their company ahead of the interview. Knowing the basics about a company is standard practice, yet some applicants still arrive woefully unprepared.
Without doing your homework, applicants can’t reasonably expect to articulate what skills and abilities they have to fit the position of the needs of the business.
Talk Too Soon About Money
We’re all curious about money but that’s not the point of the interview. The recruiter is looking for the person who will best fit the role. Bringing up money before they open up the conversation could suggest that you are there for the wrong reasons.
Have Your Phone on Loud
Unless you have a genuine emergency where you need to be contactable, your phone should be on silent for the duration of the interview. If this is the case, you should notify your interviewer of the situation prior to the interview commencing.
Bad Mouth a Previous Employer
Want to talk yourself out of a new job? A sure fire way is to bad mouth your previous employer. No matter how reasonable you think your complaints may be, it gives off an unprofessional impression.
If you have grievances with your previous employer, be prepared to answer questions about them in a positive light. This will help you avoid saying something off the cuff which you might regret later.
Take It Easy
Applicants who appear unenthusiastic or disengaged at an interview won’t be at the front of an employer’s mind post-interview. Recruiters are searching for candidates who are excited and passionate about their mission and vision.
Confidence is a great thing to have when interviewing for a job – however, too much confidence can tip you towards appearing arrogant. There’s a fine line between wanting the job and seeming entitled to it.
It’s okay to talk about your previous achievements, particularly if you can back it up, but coming across like you have the job already won’t impress anyone.
It’s not a good idea to lie to a potential employer, particularly if there are key elements of the role which you don’t have the expertise for.
For a start, you won’t have the skills to perform well in the role, but more importantly, you could get the job but be dismissed for gross misconduct if found out.