Interviews are stressful at the best of times. Whether it’s your first job or you’ve had a long and varied career, interviews can always catch you out if you aren’t fully prepared. So, to get you ready or refresh your skills, here are a few simple pointers to ensure you make a great impression…
As part of your interview you will be asked specific questions about the organisation, as well as the role. To succeed in this part of your interview, you need to do your homework:
As you do this research, try also to think about how your skills and personality fit with theirs.
The worst outcome from an interview is failure because of a simple error like arriving late. Get the basics right and make sure you:
The questions you get asked will vary greatly depending on the industry, the sector and the role. But certain questions are inevitable. You’ll be asked about your previous experience. You’ll be asked about your skills, your current role, and why you’re the right person for the job. Try to prepare for the questions you’re likely to be asked, even if you can’t prepare for the unpredictable ones.
Your CV has got you the interview, so make sure you actually remember what's written on it – you'd be surprised by how many people don't! Read and re-read it before your interview so that you know it inside out – this shouldn't be difficult if it's a true reflection of your achievements and past experience. Your interviewer will use your CV as a guide for the interview, so it really matters that you know it and believe in it.
As soon as you enter the building, be polite and engaging with everyone you encounter. Receptionists will tell interviewers if they think you’ve been rude. Then, once you’re settled, try to be positive in your body language. Don’t slouch or lean back too much – have good, solid posture, and show the interviewer that you’re confident.
Be an attentive listener too. When the interviewer is talking, it’s really important that you engage and respond in a positive way. You’re not just being tested for your suitability – this is about your personality too.
It is likely you will be asked whether you have any questions at the end of the interview. It’s good to prepare a few just in case but be reactive too – if something has piqued your interest in the interview, ask about it. Asking questions is important because it shows you care and that you have a real interest in the company and the role.
Interviews can be incredibly frustrating because, for all the preparation you do, decisions can often come down to that imperceptible fact of just ‘clicking’ with someone or not. There isn’t much you can do to prepare for something like that. But what you can do is ensure that you show the best of your personality.
That means not overthinking your preparation too. To show who you really are, you’ll have to be confident enough to react, engage and improvise. Overly prepared interviewees can often seem a little stiff. Interviewers leave not knowing if they saw the real person. So, giving yourself the chance to be yourself can really make all the difference.