Hands up! Who loves the sweaty palm inducing process that is the ‘dream job interview’? So far, you have impressed them with your CV and completed a great application form. You may have aced tests and now comes the face-to-face meeting.
Now is your chance to shine and show the interview panel that you have the personality as well as the skills to do the job and fit right into their culture.
But your mind is blank and your mouth dry. They ask you a question you weren’t expecting and you feel your dream job slipping away before your very eyes. STOP this happening with these five great ways to grab the upper hand at your next job interview.
1. Prepare for the obvious questions
No two interviews are the same and with every business interviewing candidates differently, it is hard to come with a set formula for your pre-interview research.
However, spending some time preempting some of the possible questions is a great way to spend half an hour or so in the days before the interview. If you were on the panel, what questions would you ask?
These questions might not come up in your interview but they may be worth pondering;
- How do you stay up to date with issues in our field? What blogs etc. do you follow?
- What do you think are the key issues OR what problems can you foresee in the future?
- Where do you see yourself in X years’ time?
It is also worthwhile preparing for the icebreaker question – tell us a bit more about you? – even though you are an expert on you, it is amazing how quickly your mind forgets the very basics of your life!
Top tip – interviewers and interviewing panels are not looking for the perfect answer. What they are looking for is someone who has clearly done their research and can present a reasoned argument or answer under pressure.
2. Bring backup
This doesn’t mean bringing your mum but bringing materials that back up what you talk about in the interview. Anyone can say that they turned a business around, bringing a 50% rise in membership, for example, but bring the information to back it up – what about a colourful spreadsheet or graph – and the panel can see that again, you are the person who likes to be prepared.
Print a couple of copies, make sure your name is all over them and have a keen eye for the detail and leave them with the panel at the end of your interview.
3. Interviewers are not always experts
Sifting through CVs and application forms, meeting and greeting candidates and interviewing people is a time-consuming process. It comes on top of all their other responsibilities and thus, the interviewer can often be less prepared than they would like.
See this as an opportunity and a means by which you can steer the conversation. This works well for you both. The interviewer or panel get a great interview with plenty of insight and you show yourself to be uber-capable of taking on the role.
BUT – and this is a big but – don’t go flying in there assuming that the interviewer is ill-prepared and that you are their saviour! Check the situation first because some companies will wheel out their most experienced interviewer to wheedle out those that say they walk the walk, and talk the talk, but don’t really deliver.
4. Ask the right questions
You now the question is coming, “Do you have any questions?”. It is the part of the interview that most people stress out about and mess up as a result.
There are some fantastic creative questions you could ask but take care that they don’t come across as being too off the wall or rude;
- What do see as my goals for the first 3/6/9/12 months in the post?
- How will my success be measured?
- What skills do you think are needed to excel in this role?
- What are the biggest challenges the company is facing right now?
Top tip – these are just a few examples and work well but no matter what questions you ask, make sure they are not ‘yes and no’ ones. Interviews are a two-way street!
5. Look at your body language
Some people have a practice run with a friend and have the ‘interview’ videoed and the results can be surprising. Did you know your play with your rings or wring your hands? Were you aware you constantly touch your nose or your ear when nervous? Do you lean too far forward or slouch in the chair?
Preparing for an interview is about looking at the whole picture and understanding how you come across. It could be that you are too enthusiastic if there is such a thing, or maybe you are not vibrant enough. Giving the right impression at an interview is about creating the right impression from the moment you walk into a room till the moment you leave.
Use these five tips to be better prepared and remember, make a point of slowing down your speech (we garble when we are nervous), concentrate on steadying your breathing, relax and if you can, enjoy it too.