Now comes the daunting bit; the interview. It is not just what you say but how you say it that will reinforce the message you are giving and create an overall impression of your suitability. Research has shown that three-quarters of interviews are lost within three minutes of entering the room, sometimes it doesn’t even take that long. It is absolutely vital to make a good impression. Here are our Top Tips for Interviewing:
Before the interview, prepare
1. Research the employer
Look at the employer’s website and learn something about the company before you attend your interview. Feed them the opportunity to talk proudly about something positive you have found. Not only does this show you know what the firm actually does, it also shows them you have the ability to research things on your own and take the initiative.
2. Dress properly
Dress smartly and professionally. If this worries you, in most cases just look like a pleasantly attired normal person, and you’ll be fine. If you are really worried about this you could; a) visit the offices of the company on the day before, see what style of clothes people are wearing as they emerge, and dress like that or b) simply phone the HR department and ask. It will show to them that you are putting some thought into your preparation and that you are keen to make a good impression. Ultimately, your clothes aren’t going to matter too much unless they are so outlandishly different from the way people dress at the company you’re visiting that the folks there think you’re trying to send a disrespectful message.
3. What are your weaknesses?
Try to find an area of your experience/skill that is currently lacking. An interviewer will appreciate your candour – as long as whatever you disclose can be easily remedied. Even better if you can show what proactive steps you are taking to overcome this weakness.
4. Preparing for open ended questions
Try to put yourself in the chair of the interviewer and think about what questions you would ask if you were conducting the interview. Then prepare your answers. (See further below for our tips on how to do this) Interviewers often use open-ended questions to get in depth information from potential employees. Closed ended means you answer with one or two words, while you answer open-ended questions with as much detail as you need to answer the questions properly.
During the interview…
5. Adjust your body language
Be aware of what your body language is saying and how to use it to strengthen your chances.
• Shake hands with the interviewer(s) at the beginning and end of the interview.
• Good posture and a friendly expression will indicate that you have a positive approach.
• Relax into your chair, but without slouching.
• Maintain good eye contact. If you have more than one person interviewing you, look at the person asking the question when you reply but glance at the other interviewers from time to time.
• Try to smile from time to time where appropriate.
• ‘Mirroring’ the interviewer’s own body language is supposed to work in your favour, but it could also possibly appear a little creepy or, worse, that you are taking the mickey!
6. Think about what you’re saying
i. Talk about specific achievements
Interviewers like to know how you felt about about a particular success. Some will ask for specific examples of things you’ve done that you’re particularly proud of, how you solved problems, or how you learnt – and improved – from difficult situations. Even if the interviewer doesn’t ask, being able to tell a few coherent stories of things you have done not only shows what you’ve experienced, but also shows that you’re capable of logical, organised thought.
ii. Be enthusiastic, positive and remain likeable
Don’t criticise previous employers, particularly within the industry. Focus on positive achievements and views. When the interviewer asks you about your last job, tell him or her how much you loved the people you worked with. This shows how you are easy to get along with and that people actually liked you.
iii. How to answer open ended questions
• Recognise open ended questions by listening for the key ‘question’ words like “why”, “how”, “what” etc.
• Try to determine what information the interviewer is trying to obtain from you. Ask for more clarification if you are unsure how to answer or do not understand the question.
• Provide more than the facts. Use emotion when answering too. Enabling the interviewer to see how you felt in a certain situation. They are looking for depth, not a closed response.
• Think about your answers before you respond because you will be revealing information about yourself and your work ethic. Pause and look thoughtful if you need time to construct your reply. Take as long as you need to answer.
• Say something more. Show your strengths and accomplishments with your answers. Turn the interview toward yourself and what you want to say, these are fantastic opportunities to sell yourself.
Finishing the Interview
7. When will you know the outcome?
Your interviewer may tell you during the course of the interview when you should expect to receive a decision from the organisation on the outcome of the interview, and what the next stage of the process will be if you are successful. If these points have not already been covered, it is good to ask for this information at the end of the interview. It will not only clarify the next stage for you, but will also indicate to them that you are organised and methodical.
8. End positively
Remember to thank everyone and reiterate your enthusiasm for the job for which you have applied. Always end the interview positively and with a smile…even if it went completely wrong!