How to handle that job interview…
Before the interview
- Plan carefully. Do you know where you are going and how to get there? If you’re driving, is there parking available? – Is it free or will you need change? Perhaps do a trial run?
- Make sure you know the names of the people who will be interviewing you. Practice saying them if they are difficult to pronounce.
- Pay attention to your appearance. Even if the company have a casual dress code, wear a suit. One that fits well, is clean and dark (Black or Dark Navy Blue). Make sure you’re wearing a clean, well-fitting shirt/blouse which should be ironed (Even if you keep your jacket on). If you’re wearing a tie (which men should be) it should go with your shirt. Pattern on your shirt = plain Tie and vice versa. Clean shoes, tidy hair and clean shaven or tidy facial hair. Nothing should distract from what you have to say, so don’t let your appearance let you down. Also, if you dress to impress you’ll feel impressive and be able to focus more on your answers.
- There’s no such thing as too much preparation for an interview. Find out everything you can about the company. Read their mission statement, find out about their core values and make your answers reflect this in the interview. Look for current news – show you are up to date. Is the company on LinkedIn or Twitter? Follow them for news updates.
- Get in to a positive mindset. Think through how you would answer typical interview questions and ask yourself ‘Can I answer this in a more positive way?’
- Arrive between 5 to 10 minutes before your interview time. Too early is as bad as being too late.
At the interview
- As soon as you walk through the front door you are being interviewed by everyone you come in to contact with. Be polite and professional at all times, leave everyone, from the security guard to the receptionist to ANYONE(!) with a good impression – not just the interviewers.
- During the interview, talk about what you DO, what you’ve LEARNED, the skills you HAVE and what you HAVE ACHIEVED, not what you don’t do, don’t have or haven’t done. Positive! Positive! Positive!
- Make sure you know your CV. You should be able to answer any question about your CV without hesitation. Dates, Job titles, achievements, Skills etc.
- Think about the responsibilities of the job and how your skills match what is required. If not directly, think of skills or experience that can still be effective in the role. Eg. ‘Whilst I haven’t worked using that method, I DO understand how it works and I HAVE used similar/alternative methods to ACHIEVE the same result.’
- Make your answers detailed but concise. When you feel you’ve answered a question, don’t be afraid to check if need be. Eg. ‘Do you feel I have answered your question?’
- Practice your interview technique with someone who you’re comfortable with but who will give you honest feedback to help you smooth out any kinks.
- Be professional, but don’t completely hide your personality. Companies want people, not robots.
- Have some intelligent questions to ask, these should not include questions about salary, holiday, benefits etc. They should be about the role and its place within the team/business, the company itself, even ask about the people interviewing you. Eg. What to you is the best thing about working for……? What first attracted you to the job here? What training and development opportunities exist? What are your expectations of the person in this role in 3../6../12.. months’ time? You need to have a few questions in mind because they may be answered during the interview. If all your questions have been answered before there comes an opportunity for you to ask any of the interviewers and you can’t think of any more just say something like ‘Thank you, but I believe all the questions I had have been covered already.’ If you think of any on your way out or afterwards then note them down for the second interview.
- Do your best; come out feeling that if you had the interview over, you’d do it exactly the same again. If you’re offered the job, great! If not then at least it wasn’t because of anything you did or didn’t do, it just wasn’t the right job for you. The next one will be!