Written by Dave Cullen
Congratulations! Your job application has been accepted by an employer or recruiter and you’ve have been put forward for an interview. The competition has been whittled down to a handful of hopefuls and you are now one of them. For many jobseekers the interview process can be a daunting and nerve racking time. However by following a few recommended guidelines you can help to reduce your anxiety and give yourself the best opportunity for a successful interview.
1. Preparation & Research
Before the interview, investigate your prospective employer and gain an insight into the organisation. Try to familiarise yourself with how the business works and demonstrate this knowledge in the interview. The employer will look upon your inquisitive nature as a sign of enthusiasm.
Don’t rely on company websites – the information contained there may be out of date so the best way of accurately researching a prospective employer is to search for them on news sites or talk to current employees.
2. Dress to impress
Set the correct tone by looking as professional as possible. A good suit will not only make you feel more confident but you’ll look it too.
3. Know your CV
As part of your pre-interview homework ensure that you possess a comprehensive recall of your past experience. You must be ready for the interviewer to probe you on any aspect of your CV. Make sure you can recall key duties and responsibilities from your previous employment. You should also memorise several examples of challenges you faced and explain how you overcame them.
4. Practice the interview
No two interviews are alike, however there are some standard questions that you can anticipate. These include assessing your strengths and weaknesses and explaining why you believe you are the ideal candidate for the job. Practice the interview by having a friend or family member take the role of the interviewer. Even if they ask you very different questions to those of the real interview, at least you will have gotten yourself mentally prepared for the process.
5. Body Language
80% of all communication is nonverbal, which means your body language and demeanour are vitally important. Avoid folding your arms, nervously tapping your foot or slouching in your seat. Sit up straight and show your interest by nodding and using positive gestures when necessary.
6. Don’t waffle. Provide concise answers
If you’ve conducted sufficient preparation you should be ready with your responses. Think carefully before you answer the interviewer’s questions. Stay on point and keep your answers concise and articulate. If you get tongue-tied, Stop. Take a deep breath – start again.
7. Maintain good eye contact
Always focus your attention towards the interviewer. Avoid staring or looking at the floor. If the interview is conducted by more than one person make sure that you direct your attention to the person who is speaking to you.
8. Listen carefully
Concentrate on listening intently on what the interviewer is saying. By giving them your full attention you will be more capable of providing better answers to their questions.
9. Know your strengths and sell yourself.
Before the interview, make a list of your core strengths. Prepare reasons as to why you believe you are the best choice for the role. Selling yourself to an employer is about outlining your skills and talents, which will make you an asset to the organisation. It is vitally important that the employer is given a sense of your drive, ambition and determination to succeed in this role. Discussing your past achievements is also another excellent way of highlighting your strengths.
10. Ask plenty of questions
Following completion of the interview the employer may ask if you have any questions. Failing to prepare questions sends out the wrong signal to the employer. They may think that you were not fully engaged in the interview and that you lack an insightful or independant nature. Avoid asking questions about salary expectations until you have been offered the role. This topic of conversation can also develop organically in a second interview. Try to steer clear of asking questions that can be easily answered on the company’s website.
The questions you ask should demonstrate your interest in the role and the organisation. Examples include:
“What is the company’s five-year plan and how does this department fit into that?”
“Do you provide guidance and assistance to employees who are looking to achieve their career goals?”
Remember the old adage; fail to prepare, prepare to fail and best of luck!