It’s natural to feel intimidated during an interview; the combination of nerves, anticipation and excitement leaves the most confident amongst us tongue-tied.
But it’s important to keep a clear head about the interview process; if you can follow the following steps, you might find yourself acing the awkward interview and landing your dream job.
- Research the company
While it might sound like common sense, you would be amazed by how often people go into an interview without knowing anything about the company or the role which they are applying for.
Try to remember two or three significant facts; for example, who founded the company and when; the company’s values and ethos; and what they are most known for. If they are brand or store, for example, you could research their most popular product and their current range.
It’s also worth having a look at their social media to get a feel for the company’s voice; they might have a cheeky and casual persona online that might indicate a less formal interview style, or they might stick to a professional style online which you should emulate in the interview. Always go into the interview prepared to behave and speak as professionally as possible and take your cue from the interviewer.
- Know all about you
This interview is all about you after all, and how suitable you are for the position. You should be able to summarise who you are, where you’ve been and where you’re wanting to go in a short and succinct manner.
Think about your accomplishments, your strengths and weaknesses. Be honest about yourself; don’t be ashamed of sharing where you excel and, if you do acknowledge a weakness, include measures you’ve taken to counteract or work with it in the workplace.
- Practice key questions
While not every interview will be worded exactly the same, you can often expect one version or another of the same thing. Here are some questions you might want to practice answers for:
- Tell me about yourself
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why did you leave your previous position?
- Can you give me an example of a time you’ve resolved conflict?
- What would you say is your greatest strength?
- What can you bring to our company?
- Why should we pick you?
Often how well you speak and communicate your answers can have a bigger impact than the answers themselves. Practicing your responses before the interview can help alleviate the pressure somewhat; remember to take a breath and consider the question before blurting out an answer.
NOTE: If you struggle with formulating clear responses, try and remember the CAR technique (Context / Action / Result). When providing an answer put it into a scenario, explain what you would do or have done in the past, and how it would result in a positive outcome.
- It doesn’t start and end with the interview
Keep in mind that the moment you arrive to the moment you leave, you will be on show. Always arrive at least 10 minutes early to give yourself time to relax and prepare; any earlier and you run the risk of putting undue pressure on the interviewer. Anything less and you might find yourself sprinting to arrive before the allotted time.
Consider how you acknowledge people other than the person who is interviewing you; smile and be open and friendly to all those you come across, whether it be the receptionist or the cleaner.
- Engage with your interviewer
This does not mean to turn the interview around! You don’t need to become the one asking all the questions, but polite and relevant questions can show interest and enthusiasm for the job. You can also add your own insights as they speak – just try not to interrupt or talk over them.
It’s also wise to jot down some questions you might like to ask them about the role or company; if there’s potential for career progression or promotion, if you will have any direct reports or who you will be reporting to etc.
- Consider your worth
It’s highly unlikely the topic of salary will come up in the initial interview, and by no means should you raise the topic yourself; however, it’s helpful to have an idea of your salary expectation in mind. Some interviewers will actually bring up the topic of salary expectations, which can be awkward if you haven’t thought about it prior to the interview. Be realistic and reasonable but don’t sell yourself short.