Interviews can be a nerve wracking, stress inducing part of developing your career or making a new start. However there are simple things that you can do to ensure that the basics at least are covered.
1. Know your stuff!
In any interview, with any company and for any position, you will definitely be asked what you know about the company. Not being able to answer this question only shows your potential employer that you’re lacking in initiative, research skills and passion for the organisation. From this point on, regardless of your qualifications or experience, it is likely that you will be thought of as “that candidate that didn’t bother”
Modern marketing efforts mean that there is always an online plethora of information with any simple google search. It is now so easy to research a company and those involved that knowing nothing about your potential new employer by the time that you meet them has become inexcusable.
2. Dress for Success!
“You will never get a second chance to make a good first impression” Keep things simple, this isn’t a fashion show. Make sure that your shoes are polished, your clothes fit properly and that any accessories are kept to a minimum and are not distracting. Ill fitting clothes can do more than just look untidy. They will make you uncomfortable, and lets face it, sitting in an interview isn’t the most comfortable of situations to start with. Fidgeting and pulling at your clothes can come across as a lack of interest or a discomfort in engaging with your interviewer. You will seem overly nervous and more interested in pulling at your cuffs than speaking to your potential employer.
If in doubt keep things clean and simple with a white shirt and smart trousers or knee length skirt, and don’t let yourself down with a lack of personal grooming. How many times has your granddad told you to get a hair cut! Well now is definitely the time.
3. Be prepared!
As the Boy Scouts or the Girl Guides told you in your youth, be prepared. They were likely talking about carrying string and plasters with you when hiking through a forest, but the advice travels. No one is going to be able to give you an insight into the exact questions that you will be asked during your interview, however there are some basics that you can almost guarantee will come up.
Prepare answers on your personal strengths and weaknesses and remember to make it relevant. Your famous chocolate fondue might be something you are extremely proud of, but it is unlikely to make your interviewer think “yes, we need those sorts of skills in the finance department”
Give examples of the successes you have had in your career, let your interviewer know that you have learnt from mistakes or weaknesses. Relate everything back to a particular episode or situation that you have dealt with in your previous employment. Remember, we can all say that we are brilliant, but if you back it up with evidence you will be ensuring that there can be no doubt of it.
4. Fill in the blanks!
If you have done your research and prepared your “pitch” then you will want to make sure that your interviewer gets all of the information. There is nothing wrong with adding in some information not asked of you as long as you are sure that it is relevant to the position and process. Wait until an appropriate time and quietly ask yourself if there is a reason you haven’t been asked about it. If you still feel that your interview would benefit from this added information, politely ask your interviewer “Could I take two more minutes of your time to let you know about….” – More often than not your interviewer will admire your confidence and appreciate that you have more to give.
Similarly always ask questions when prompted. This is classically the way most interviews end “Do you have any questions?” – Your answer should always be yes. This is your opportunity to fill in the blanks in your research. Prepare these questions before arriving and do not be afraid to ask the sort of questions an employee would want to know. Future growth plans for the company, working environment and culture within the company, and development opportunities within the role are all good areas to delve deeper into. This shows that you already see yourself as part of the team and have a passion for knowing more.
5. Stay Calm!
It is very easy to let nerves get the better of you, especially when this interview could mean everything to you and your life goals. But, don’t make it harder on yourself than it needs to be. Follow the tips above and prepare. Plan what you are wearing and what you will need to take with you the night before, and if needed practice your journey in to make sure that you will arrive on time and not get lost. Speak clearly and take your time in answering.
Above all else, remember that boiling down the process results in just normal people sitting in a room, having a chat.