In my previous career I was a Human Resources Manager, reading hundreds of CV’s every week and interviewing many prospective candidates. Friends and family have often asked me to assist them in preparing for interviews, so here are my top tips. If you have any questions please do comment or drop me a private message – I’m always happy to share some wisdom 🙂
You’ve applied for the perfect position and have been invited to attend an interview. Everything is going to plan and yet you’re apprehensive that you’ll stumble at the last hurdle. It’s normal to have some nerves at this stage – it shows you are keen. However, you want to turn up ready and able to show your best. Here are some tips to help you on your way:
- Research the company. Their website, any available literature and online presence are all good sources of information.
- Know the job role. Examine the Job Advert and understand what the employer is looking for in their new recruit. Scrutinise the Job Description if it’s available; this will outline Key Duties, Responsibilities and Person Specification. Many interviewers will have a checklist to tick off against requirements. It’s your task in the interview to ensure you’re ticked against those boxes.
CREATE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
- How does your online social profile look? Is there anything there that may not appeal to prospective employers? Consider taking the time to look through your online presence, deleting or securing details you would rather not share.
- Aim to arrive early. Ten minutes prior to the start of the interview is recommended. This shows you are reliable and gives you time to relax. Google maps is an excellent resource to outline routes available for journeys. If you’ve worried about arriving at the location on time, do a trial run beforehand.
- Dress appropriately. It’s always best to attend interview smartly dressed (in keeping with the role) to create a professional appearance. Pay attention to scents – nothing too overpowering. Coffee and cigarette odour can be strong and create a negative impression.
- Be friendly and polite to all people you are in contact with. People often talk and you’ll want to show that you’re a nice person to everyone. You may be working with them in a few weeks!
- Greet your interviewers with a warm smile and firm handshake whilst maintaining eye contact.
- Bring along required paperwork a copy of your qualifications and anything else that may support your application. Present those smartly for easy viewing.
- Switch your phone to silent. You don’t want to be fumbling with your phone during interview.
- LET YOUR PERSONALITY SHINE
Interviewers expect the candidate to have some nerves – you’re human. However, try to relax as much as possible to ensure your personality shines through. Be aware of your communication skills – verbal, non-verbal (body language) and listening. Interviewers are usually drawn to those who are warm, approachable and enthusiastic about the job role and organisation. The interview is your chance to prove you have the right personality for the job.
- PREPARE YOUR ANSWERS
The purpose of the interview is for the company to learn more about you – how you interact and your knowledge and understanding of the role. This is your opportunity to expand on the written application. Questions are usually ‘open’ and those require a detailed response – not just a “yes” or “no” answer. Remember to be honest and positive during interview. Speaking critically of former employers or colleagues can give the interviewer a negative impression of you. Prior to interview, consider your responses to some common interview questions. Here are a few interview questions you can work on beforehand:
Basic Interview Questions:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- Why should we employ you?
- Tell me your proudest achievement to date?
- Why are you leaving your current position?
- What attracted you to this position?
- Can you tell me about a challenging situation and how you overcame it?
- How do you spend your spare time?
- Do you have any questions?
- EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
Sometimes an interviewer will throw a curveball when you least expect it. This might induce panic, but their reason for doing this may be see how you work under pressure – or they just like asking awkward questions! The best course of action is to remain as calm as possible. A smile, a pause and a slow and steady answer can be the best way to deal with those nerves.
- ASK QUESTIONS
You will often be asked if you have any questions. If not, it’s still best to ask any pressing questions or for clarity on issues you’re unclear of. An interview is a two-way process with the interviewee deciding if the role is right for them. Here are a few common questions you could ask:
- What further training do you offer?
- What are the areas for career progression within the company?
- You mentioned earlier that (something you need clarity on), could you please explain this in more detail?
- I am interested in (insert topic here) could you tell me a little more about this?
- When will you inform me of your decision with regards to the role?
- A FRIENDLY DEPARTURE
When the interview comes to a close, ensure you thank all interviewers for their time, bid them a nice day and shake hands.
Congratulations, you have come to the end of the interview and hopefully the next step in your career progression!