Every hiring manager looks for different things in the people they interview, certain jobs require specific qualifications and personality types.
There isn’t a set blue print to ace every interview – each requires you to perform in a different way depending on the job itself, the company and the interviewer. Be adaptable. I quite like the idea of an interview being a performance, this mindset enables you to think methodically while practicing for the interview, better preparing yourself and building confidence – because you are performing in a sense, you’re trying to show off your skills. Of course you shouldn’t try to portray yourself as someone you’re not, but neither should you be applying for jobs that are so far away from your skill set that you are forced to act as someone you’re not.
All of this being said, there are some fundamental techniques that carry across any kind of interview. They might seem like common sense to some, but when the sweats come on and the hands start to shake a lot of people completely freeze. In this blog I will be breaking down my own 5 top tips for interviewees which should be transferable for anyone, ranging from graduate roles right the way up to CEO positions. It’s important to be well rehearsed so that you can perform to the best standard possible on the day!
Preparation is probably the most important thing you can do for an interview. Fail to prepare, prepare to… you know how the saying goes. Having a good understanding of the company and role you are about to interview for is imperative, it enables you to start tailoring your experiences to the sort of questions you think you may come up against. If possible try to explore deeper than just the company’s website when researching, do they have social media pages? Online reviews? Who are their customers/ clients? These things give you better knowledge into the company, the environment and the culture, again giving you a head start on being able to link your personality and experience to why you think you’d be a great fit for them. Preparation also gives you the chance to highlight anything you aren’t too sure on about the company. The second part to preparation goes without saying: BE ON TIME, if you’re going to be late without a valid excuse you may as well not turn up. How you dress is also important, if you’re going for a job with a corporate company, wear a full suit and tie, with top button done up, and shirt tucked in. On the flip side, if you’re applying for a role with a more casual company, dress smart casual. I would always recommend dressing smart, but tailor the definition of ‘smart’ to the circumstance you are in.
Relaxing’s a tough one. Some people are naturally better at being able to stay relaxed in high pressure situations than others. This doesn’t mean that you can’t develop techniques that help to keep you as calm as possible before and during interviews… Hopefully you’ve still remembered Tip 1: preparation. Being well prepared is one of the main things that will help to keep you as relaxed as possible, if you go into an interview knowing you’ve done everything possible to prepare you’ll feel a lot better for it! However, most of us will still know that interview anxiety can creep up at any point. Struggling to breathe properly when speaking or uncontrollable sweats are common with a lot of people when feeling pressure. This can be combatted with some simple techniques: take deep breathes in through your nose and out through your mouth, make sure you remember to breathe in between sentences when speaking, take off your suit jacket before the interview starts or undo the top button of your shirt hiding this with your tie (if you’re wearing a suit). Each person has different techniques that work for them, test a few out and hopefully they should help you to relax and focus again while interviewing. Having techniques that help you relax will give you more confidence in yourself and that will show in the interview.
Speaking from an interviewer’s point of view, questions are often asked to see if the interviewee can relate the skills they say they have to real scenarios and experiences they’ve been in. This gives the interviewer a chance to see if there is truth in what they are saying. So the more evidence you can give to support the skills you have portrayed on your CV and in the interview the better you will come across. If you can relate both the skills you say you have and the skills the interviewer asks about to real life situations you’ve been in before it helps to give some substance to what you’re saying. Being able to relate your past experiences and skills to the present role you’re interviewing for could be the difference between you getting the job or not, most hiring managers want to take on people who can hit the ground running in the sense of not needing to be trained on how to deal with certain situations or having to be taught the basic skills for the job. This also offers you the chance to be personable, in this case you’re telling a story by relating something to your own experiences… If you can try and throw a joke in there or say something that shows your personality then that will only help your case!
Being able to articulate well is something any hiring manager will look for. It shows your intelligence and personality- the way you speak and the expressions you use will play a big part in an interviewer’s first impression of you. I don’t mean your accent, unfortunately some of us can’t help that, but the vocabulary you use and how comfortable you are speaking about yourself will help to paint a better picture of you in the interviewer’s mind. When it’s your chance to speak, make sure you try to sound as intelligent, knowledgeable and enthusiastic as possible, without saying so much that you don’t listen! The use of verbal and facial expression along with hand gestures will also help add to how articulate you come across, within reason of course. I’d advise against an uncomfortable forced smile or hand gestures resembling bad dance moves…
If you aren’t genuinely interested by the company or role you’re interviewing for then why are you there? Engaging should be easy, if you really care about the position you’re going in for then you’ll have plenty of questions and should be switched on throughout the interview. Try not to look like you’re about to fall asleep! If the interviewer thinks for one second that you aren’t massively engaged in the interview then you won’t stand much of a chance. There will be plenty of people before and after you that will make it pretty obvious that they want the job! Hiring managers want people who really want to work for their company and are passionate about the role. Don’t play it cool, if you want the job, show it through how engaged you are. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or dig deeper into things the interviewer is saying, this is your chance to learn more about the role or anything you’re unsure of.
So that’s my top 5 tips for anyone going in for an interview. If you don’t usually address the 5 points below when getting ready to interview, try it and thank me later!
I apologise for the over use of the word ‘interview’. If anyone has other points or tips they feel could be of use to people going in for interview, feel free to start a discussion in the post comments or reach out directly to me!