We all have a natural fear of the dreaded job interview. The fear of the mouth going dry, the perfectly rehearsed word’s fail to come forth and sheer panic taking over as you find yourself waffling away and that dream job slipping away before you’re eyes.
Well, fear not, here are top ten tips to help make sure you seal the deal.
1. Fail to prepare and you’ll prepare to fail
Like most great moments in life, the hard work of an interview is actually done before the main event. The more preparation you do means that you’ll not only be a far more impressive interviewee as you roll off your impressive knowledge, but far more importantly you’ll feel more prepared and confident.
If you’re feeling relaxed, confident and prepared, you’re more likely to come across as the articulate, ambitious, motivated and intelligent human being we all know you are. If you’re going to an interview feeling underprepared, you’ll come across as unconfident or just trying to blag and bluff your way through.
It’s OK to be a geek – so go ahead, be a swat and do your preparation - see our article here on The Ten Most Common Interview Questions. Part of your preparation should also be around your understanding of the role and why, most importantly, it’s the right fit for you.
2. It’s not just about you!
A common mistake people in interviews is just thinking about yourself – how you’re feeling, do you ‘know enough’ and how are you coming across?
In fact an interview is all actually all about the interviewer and getting them to say ‘yes – we want you!’. So, make sure you tune into the person interviewing you – ideally find out about them before, what motivates them, do you have something in common with them, what are they really looking for to get them to say ‘yes’.
Research shows that interviewers are more likely to hire people like themselves so tailoring your approach to the interviewer could help you get ahead.
3. Believe the hype - first impressions really do count
Our fate can be decided within the first minute of an interview. A psychology student, Tricia Prickett, found that observers could predict whether an interviewee would get the job based on watching just the first 15 seconds of interaction including the handshake and ‘hello’. (If you want to know more about the power of first impressions, read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink).
So, make sure you make a great entrance – smile, be positive, give a good handshake and get off to a winning start.
4. Take your time and use ‘think, speak, shut-up!
Your Interviewer will be looking for evidence of structured thinking – so saying the first thing that comes into your head is not going to help you. Most interviewees just go straight to the ‘speaking’ part – outgun the competition by letting your brain work first, then delivering your response and then knowing when to stop.
5. Often there is no right answers
Interviews are less about quizzing you to see if you’re ‘perfect’ and have ‘the right answer. In fact they’re more to do with seeing how you handle uncertainty and things you haven’t come across before (which in many jobs is the real test of the role).
That’s why firms ask what may be perceived as those ‘silly questions’ such as ‘How many airplanes are the sky at the moment?’. The ‘answer’ is usually irrelevant, what interviewers are looking for is to see if you can handle new ideas, stay calm under pressure and deploy logical and analytical thinking.
6. Always have a go at answering the nightmare question….
Even if you don’t know the answer to a difficult questions, it’s important that you always show a can-do attitude by trying to answer the question, however always make sure you…
7. …avoid the BS!
Interviewers can tell a mile off if you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes – so don’t try it on, it suggests you’re not a straight talker.
When you get a question you don’t know the answer to it’s best to admit you don’t know the answer and then either apply the knowledge or examples you do have, or, ask for more information to help you attack the question. You’ll never be marked down for honesty and inquisitiveness.
8. Give examples
Lots of interview formats are ‘Competency-based Interviews’. In short employers are looking to see if you’re a good match for the role they have open by looking for examples of where you’ve tackled a similar situation before. For example, if you’re going for a job in consulting, this will normally involve client interaction, so the recruiter will want to see how suited you are to handling clients.
A competency based question could be ‘Can you give me an example of where you’ve had to deal with a difficult client’. So, here they will be looking for an example in a previous role where you’ve dealt with a client and what happened. We highly recommend using the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) approach to help you through these questions.
9. Remember your body language, but don’t obsess about it
We know you’re bright, so telling you to make exactly 85.8% eye contact and ensure you don’t rub your nose all the time is below you. However, body language is key and research suggests that 93% of our communication is nonverbal.
So, even after having made that first great impression, do make sure you’re always coming across as engaged and switched-on and not doing anything to distract the interviewer (gentlemen- no leg jigging, ladies - no playing with your hair!) – this will mean you’re interviewer should remember your answers rather than getting distracted by your nervous twitches.
10. Have questions
You’ll normally be asked if you have any questions at the end of an interview. Always makes sure you have at least two interesting questions to ask your interviewer. It could anything from more detail around the role, the team structure, an article you’ve read about the company or the strategic direction of the business. Make sure these are not mundane questions (salary, starting date etc) or ones that you should know the answer to.
It’s a chance to show you go the extra mile (something all recruiters are looking for) and you also know about the role and the organisation.