Few people list ‘going to interviews’ as being one of their favourite things to do. But if you want that dream job, it’s often something that you can’t avoid. So, how can we give ourselves the best chance of getting it right and have that job offer on the table before the final handshake?
It’s not an interview, it’s a conversation
Even the thought of doing an interview can bring on feelings of nervousness and apprehension, especially if you really want the job. As an interviewee it is important to remember that this is a two-way conversation. Whilst you’re being given the opportunity to demonstrate your relevant skills, you’re also assessing whether this is something that’s right for you. Thinking of it as a conversation – rather than solely as an assessment of you as an individual – will give you a sense of empowerment and confidence.
Do your prep
It might seem an obvious one, but so many people walk in to an interview not having done enough research. An interview is a bit like a date with a needy, prospective beau. Employers want to know that you’re interested in them and why, so do your prep. Why make yourself more vulnerable than you need to? Know the company, the industry and if relevant, have examples of work in your particular field that you like or are interested in. That way, if you’re asked any wider questions about why you’re passionate about the job, you’ll have a rounded answer that has substance to it.
Tell them what they want to hear
Assuming that you like the sound of the role and think it would serve you well, then a big part of the process is to convince the interviewer that you’re the person for the job. You can do this passively and wait to be given your marks out of ten, or you can take control and draw the interviewer’s attention to why you have what they need. If you have a job description, go through it in detail, highlighting the requirements and noting your relevant experience. At the end of the process, collate all that experience into two or three case studies that allow you to easily recall specific scenarios when asked. Another useful trick is to familiarise yourself with the language used in the job description and repeat it as part of your answers. Hearing their own words spoken back to them has a subconscious effect on the interviewer, evoking a feeling of ‘This person is one of us and has what we need.’.
Listen, breathe and smile
Remember, back in the day when you had to take exams and your teachers often repeated, ‘Take your time and read the question before you start writing your answer.’ ? Well, interviews are no different. If we’re feeling a little nervous, it’s easy to rush things. So, firstly, listen carefully to what you’re being asked. Then, breathe and give yourself some time before you jump in with an answer. That few seconds can make all the difference between giving a garbled, not entirely relevant response and one that is fluid, calm and considered. Lastly, don’t forget to smile! Your enthusiasm and positive attitude will be infectious and help push you up to the top of the consideration list.
Drive the interview
The most pleasurable of interviews for both parties is where the conversation flows. You can influence this by using your experience to tell a story and guide the interviewer through the conversation. You already feel confident in your skills and abilities (yes, you do!) and one of your key roles in the interview is to make your interviewer feel comfortable. By using your body language and listening skills, you can quickly relax and reassure them that this is going to be a positive experience. Remember, every interviewer wants you to be ‘the one’. You just need to show them the way.