Top Five Interview Tips

Thursday, April 18, 2013

In the days running up to a job interview, knowing how to most effectively prepare for your meeting can be challenging. 

With so many things in the balance, you need to concentrate your efforts on the key areas that will help you outrun the competition.

First impression: In a first meeting, an employer is looking for an individual who inspires confidence and has positive energy. During this interview it is important to smile, offer a firm / confident handshake and maintain good eye contact. Remember that the interviewer is assessing not only if you can do the job, but how you will interact with clients and other employees.

Popular Interview Questions: Make sure you anticipate and prepare for the most obvious interview questions. Whilst you can’t anticipate every question that will come up, certain questions come up time and time again and you are shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t prepare for them. The following are firm favourites:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why did you apply to this role?
  • What do you know about this company?
  • Why are your strengths /weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • What have you been doing since your last job?
  • Do you have any questions you would like to ask?

Behavioural Questions: Over 80% of employers use behavioural (sometimes known as competency based) questions as part of their interview process. This type of question can be very effectively prepared for once you know what the employer is looking for. What is a behavioural question? In a nutshell, these questions are when you are asked to describe past work related behaviour, on the assumption that it will be a good indicator of future job performance. This type of interview is designed to identify the skills that are of value to the organisation and the interview is based on finding examples of behaviours which are relevant to the job being filled. 

Enthusiasm: Why is this important? Let’s pause for a minute and consider things from the employer’s perspective. If you show enthusiasm and energy in an interview, there is a strong chance that you will show the same passion for the job when you join the company. Most of us get so bogged down by answering the question “correctly” that we forget to pay attention to how we are communicating our message.

So what can you do? To more clearly understand what we mean by “enthusiasm”, it is worth doing the following exercise. Talk to a friend about something that really interests you – sport, a recent holiday or a good book you have read. Notice how your voice modulates, you face becomes animated, your whole body livens up and you become fully “engaged” in what you are saying. That is what I mean by enthusiasm – if you inject this into the interview, you will immediately be streets ahead of the competition.

Practice: You wouldn’t run a marathon without doing any training. Likewise doing an interview without getting a few practice runs in is unwise…… may well finish up at the same point, but it will take a lot more time and effort and will cause unnecessary pain and hardship. Practice is essential - at the very least practise by yourself or with a friend. What every method you use, make sure you practice your answers out loud – answers have a habit of sounding much better in our heads. Using a professional interview coach, saves time and can dramatically improve your performance. They can quickly identify your areas of weakness and will work with you to overcome them.

Conclusion: Remember that interviewing is a skill that needs to be learnt. By focusing on the above five points, you will sharpen your skills, build your confidence and outshine the competition.