Written by Dave Cullen
In previous articles we have discussed some of the key ingredients to a successful job interview, these have included, research, dress code, knowing your CV, body language, selling yourself and asking questions. However, among the most frequent forms of feedback recruiters receive from employers about unsuccessful candidates is their failure to undertake the required preparation for the interview.
Preparation goes beyond just planning your answers to the most frequently asked questions or conducting basic research into the company prior to meeting the interviewer, it’s about carefully perfecting your interview technique. Knowing how to respond to the standard array of questions memorising personal statements and career anecdotes is one thing, being able to deliver with them with conviction is another.
Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Do you feel confident enough to communicate all of the information you need to during the interview without being impeded by nerves?
- Do the words you’ve rehearsed feel natural to you?
- Are you comfortable saying them?
It is important at this point to clarify that your approach to an interview shouldn’t be about memorising several pages worth of prewritten script, after all an interview is an organic two-way conversation. However, in the interests of effectively communicating in a short amount of time, it is prudent to have some of the most important answers ready to roll off your tongue. Examples of these types of common questions include: “Talk me through your CV”, “What are your strengths / weaknesses?”, “Why do you want to work here?”
When an employer states that a failed applicant had not adequately prepared themselves for the process, they are referring to their lack of mastery of the interview format. Interviewees are expected to be nervous during an interview; even the most well-versed of candidates experience some degree of anxiety or apprehension. However, these nerves should not be debilitating to such an extent that they forget everything they had rehearsed and the quality of their answers become adversely affected. One way of preventing this is through meticulous practice.
Ask a friend or family member to interview you in order to help perfect your technique. These mock interview sessions will allow you to understand how you will behave and react in the physical environment of the actual interview as opposed to the theoretical one you perceive on paper. This is a great way to overcome any uncertainties you may have and learn to become more comfortable in the interview setting.
You can focus on addressing any weaknesses with respect to how you are presenting yourself and communicating through body language, hand gestures and eye contact. Furthermore, by having another person to help test you, you will be able to develop your active listening skills, which will allow you to better adapt on the fly to any unexpected questions that may arise during the real interview.