The Perfect Interview
Interviews can be daunting, but whether you’re someone who takes them in your stride, a nervous interviewer, or even embarking on your first one ever, there are certain things you can do to guarantee you give yourself the best shot at getting the job.
First off, make sure you research the job properly beforehand. It’s not enough just to be well qualified for the role, or to know everything there is to know about your career path, you have to know about the exact company or business you’re interviewing for. Look into them online, be aware of the work they do and the image they try and present, and where possible try to fit what you know about them into your answers.
While you’re doing this preparation, be sure to practise the standard questions you can pretty much guarantee any interviewer will ask. For a start, be ready to talk about yourself and explain why you think you’re right for the job; it’s probably one of the first things they’ll ask. When you’re doing it, be confident in promoting yourself, but try not to make your answer sound too rehearsed. At some stage they’re also likely to ask a question about what you consider your strengths and weaknesses to be. When they do, try and give examples of your strengths to back up what you’re saying; and when discussing your weaknesses, try and avoid clichés. Don’t say you’re a perfectionist or a workaholic. Instead, be self-assured enough to own up to a weakness, after all, we all have them. Ideally, put forward a weakness you have been working on or have managed to improve. For instance, admit to being slightly shy, but improving your presentation skills lately.
You might have applied for a dozen jobs, but your potential employer wants to see that you’re passionate about this one. Try and show an appreciation for the work the company or business already do, and an ambition and passion to work in their field.
All this preparation for questions is crucial, but if you have a few interviews lined up, be careful not to fall into the trap of treating them all as one. A good opportunity to be specific is when they ask what motivates you; it’s an important question to answer correctly. You might have applied for a dozen jobs, but your potential employer wants to see that you’re passionate about this one. Try and show an appreciation for the work the company or business already do, and an ambition and passion to work in their field. Finally, if they ask, ‘Have you any questions for us?’ it’s usually a sign that the interview is coming to an end. It’s a nice stage to reach and the hard part should be over, but don’t be in a rush to leave just yet – this is your chance to show off some of the research you’ve done beforehand and demonstrate how passionate you are about the job. Find something that really fascinates you about the company and be ready to ask a question on it and talk about it.
Take your time to plan what to wear. It goes without saying that how your present yourself is important. It’s the first impression your interviewer will get of you, so if in doubt, dress up. It’s better to be overdressed for an interview than underdressed; if nothing else, being well dressed is guaranteed to add to your confidence. With that out of the way, make sure to arrive on time – even better, arrive early. Get close to the interview location well in advance, and if possible try and relax in a coffee shop or somewhere similar beforehand. The ideal final preparation would be to find a nearby spot, grab a hot drink, and have a copy of the job description and your CV to hand for a last minute run through.
When game time arrives, try and relax. It’s not always easy, but when you get to this stage, if you’ve prepared right then you should be confident. Try and make yourself comfortable in the environment, and don’t rush answering your questions. If you stuck, acknowledge the question, perhaps even say it’s an interesting idea, or something you’ve thought a lot about, then give yourself a few seconds to gather those thoughts and try and deliver a confident response. All interviews are different; some consist primarily of a relaxed chat, while others will be much more formal, so the quickest way to get to grips with the tone is to try and mirror the style of the interviewer. If they want to talk casually, then you should endeavour to be just as relaxed, while if they remain very formal and professional throughout, then so must you.
After the interview, when it’s all said and done, there’s still a few things you can do to ensure that you learn as much as possible. Find a quiet place and write down the questions and answers you can remember. Consider your answers, maybe rank them from 1 to 10, and practice them later according to how well you have delivered them. If you’re not successful, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. It’s great if you can get it, and if you don’t, it’s not personal, some companies just prefer not to give feedback in case it’s later used against them.
It’s a tough process, and no matter what – you’ve heard this one before – all interviews are a great learning curve, but if you follow these tips, you won’t go far wrong.