Top 5 Tips for an Ideal Interview
Here are my top 5 tips for ensuring you have a perfect job interview. Put them into practice and I guarantee that you will see an improvement in your interview performance!
Top Tip 1: Preparing for the Interview
Job offers can be won or lost on the thoroughness of the preparations you make for your interview. Before getting to the interview stage, the employer will have spent time, effort and money in writing a job and person specification, advertising for the role, sorting through replies, arranging interviewers and sorting out the practical aspects of the interviews. And guess what, most interviewees just turn up to an interview, talk a bit about themselves and assume they’re going to get the job. I don’t think so! So, how can you prepare effectively for your interview?
First, you need to find out everything you can about your prospective employer’s business. You should do this so you can ask the right questions in your interview (see Top Tip 4) and you can start to learn if this is a company that you’d like to work for.
Secondly, you need to analyse the job specification and (if there is one) the person specification for the job for which you’ve applied. If you don’t have these, ask for them before your interview. The job description will tell you exactly what the job will entail, and your task is to match your previous experiences with each of these job duties and be comfortable with giving this information in your interview. The person specification will give you the characteristics and expertise required from the ideal candidate. Again, your task is to match your characteristics and expertise with each of those listed and be comfortable with giving this information in your interview.
Remember, the interview is simply about the employer trying to find out if you understand the job that needs to be done, if you can successfully do that job and if you will fit in. By preparing in the above way you are maximising your chances of success! Think this is a lot of effort? Well, it is, and a good test about how excited you are about the new job is if you are prepared to do this work.
Top Tip 2: Looking and Behaving the Part
An interview is just about giving information about your background, skills and experiences, right? Well, no, it isn’t just about that. How you look and behave during the interview will do just as much to improve or reduce your chances of getting that job. The key here is to spend time thinking about the kind of appearance that is expected in the kind of job you are applying for. Find out what is the “normal” dress code for the job you’re applying for, make the outfit you wear just that bit smarter and you should be OK.
Remember, looking smart (not quirky) demonstrates that you’ve taken care over your appearance, and that’s a good thing in your potential employer’s eyes. And please, please don’t forget to attend to the other things that will make you look (and feel) good, clean and recently cut hair, clean nails and clean shoes. If you don’t do any of this, what sort of first (and lasting) impression will you be giving to your potential employer?
If you look good, you will automatically start to feel good, and be confident about yourself. Your next challenge is to follow this up with the sorts of behaviour that will reinforce these feelings in your interviewer. Experts estimate that words express only 30% to 35% of what people actually communicate. Facial expressions and body movements and actions convey the rest. So, what can you do?
Ø Make and keep eye contact. By doing this when talking we tell the other person that we are interested in what’s being said and we have nothing to hide.
Ø Walk and sit with a confident posture. Do this by walking tall, making your spine straight and lean toward an interviewer to show interest and enthusiasm.
Ø Be positive, enthusiastic, friendly, and speak with a steady voice that supports appropriate excitement for the job opportunity.
Top Tip 3: Answering Questions Effectively
As I’ve already said, the interview is simply about the employer trying to find out if you understand the job that needs to be done, if you can successfully do that job and if you will fit in. Any question that you will be asked will either directly or indirectly be related to one of these three areas. A good way to prepare yourself is to run through your answers to typical questions and to try to anticipate what areas of your CV the interviewer may focus on. Remember, the golden rule of answering interview questions is to always give a positive answer. Examples of the types of questions you may be asked are given below. Make sure you have a good answer for all of them!
Do you understand the job that needs to be done?
Ø What do you know about our organisation?
Ø Why do you want to work for this company?
Ø What do you think are the most important issues facing this company?
Ø Why did you apply for the job?
Ø What interests you about the position?
Can you successfully do the job?
Ø What have been your main career achievements to date?
Ø What would your boss say about you and your work?
Ø Describe a difficult problem from your previous position, and how did you solve it?
Ø You say you have xxx skills…how did you demonstrate these in your previous role?
Ø How would you describe your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Will you fit in?
Ø How would your friends describe you?
Ø What motivates you?
Ø How do you spend your spare time?
Ø Tell me about yourself?
Ø What do you like and dislike in your job?
Top Tip 4: Asking the Right Questions
At the end of your interview, you will usually be asked if you have any questions. Asking the interviewer questions about the job and their company gives you the opportunity to look enthusiastic about the job. It’s also an opportunity to be polite (say that you’ve enjoyed the interview/discussion) and to confirm to the interviewer that you are definitely interested in taking the job.
If you have done sufficient research on the company and the job, questions will come to you fairly easily. However, here are some that you could use, assuming you haven’t already found out the information during the interview:
Ø Why has this vacancy arisen?
Ø What are the initial priorities of the position?
Ø What would you expect me to achieve in my first six months in the job?
Ø What do you consider to be the most difficult part of the job?
Ø How does the position fit into the organisational structure?
Top Tip 5: Staying in Touch after the Interview
As with all advertising, it pays to keep your name in the forefront of the interviewer’s mind. Remember that your interviewers are only human and your skills and experiences will quickly start to merge with those of other applicants. By staying in touch you are also demonstrating the qualities of motivation and commitment, which can only be of benefit to you.
So, two or three working days after your interview you should write to (or email) the interviewer to say how much you enjoyed the interview, confirm once again how much you are interested in the job and, if appropriate, expand on an interesting area discussed in the interview and offer an extra piece of information about you that will help them choose you for the job.