The interviewer hopes that YOU are the right person for the job. They are under pressure to fill the position so that they can get back to their own work. Therefore you are in a greater position of strength than you think. Concentrate on what you have to offer in the way of qualifications and experience instead of feeling intimidated.
Many people often feel intimated before and during interviews
An interviewer has 3 aims:
1) To learn if you are the right person for the job;
2) To assess your potential for promotion;
3) To decide whether you will fit into the company environment;
The key to a successful interview is in preparation.
- Be prepared: For the types of questions you will be asked;
- Be prepared: To ask questions yourself;
- Be prepared: To research the company;
- Be prepared: To look the part;
- Be prepared: To turn up on time;
You have the advantage (even if you didn't think that)
Having trained countless people to succeed at interviews, been interviewed and acted as an interviewer I’ve seen the process from all angles.
What I have realised is that people who prepare well often tend to do the best.
Underneath every job specification is a business problem that the role fulfils. By carefully analysing the person specification, the competencies and reflecting on the current challenges for that business, the need for the role becomes clear and what the employer is really looking for.
Preparation equals confidence (not the other way around)
By taking time to prepare strong evidence based answers that fulfils the competencies of the role, candidates can give themselves a real advantage at interviews.
The confidence comes from knowing that you have carefully prepared answers which demonstrate evidence of the competencies.
I always recommended my clients use the STAR method so that they gave a detailed answer.
A lot of people will often rush this part and dive straight into an answer. Since they haven’t fully thought through the answer and how it links they will go with the first thing that enters their head.
Usually they’ll run out of things to say and cut the reply short.
It’s important to show that you want the role and that you have prepared well.
Questions you may be asked:
Example question: How would you describe yourself?
Your answer should describe attributes that will enhance your suitability for the position. Have some ready in advance.
Example question: What are your strengths?
Your answer should highlight accomplishments and experiences that relate to the position for which you are applying. Also give examples of situations where your strengths have been demonstrated.
Example question: What are your weaknesses?
Your answer should not be a list of deficiencies. Don’t mention anything that could make the interviewer question your ability to do the job, for example “I am always late for everything.” Instead, discuss a weakness that could also be a strength e.g. wanting to get everything perfect.
By investing the time in preparing strong evidence based answers this will give you the confidence that you are ready to show yourself in the best light based on the competencies for the role.
Show them why they should remember you instead
It’s no secret that most interviewers need a few cups of coffee to get through all the candidates.
You have your notes and the impression that the candidates made on you when you start the shortlisting process.
Standing out is so important! If you sound the same as everyone else then what makes you special?
The employer really wants someone who is going to stay, learn and invest in the business. They are specifically alert to spot people who might leave after a short time or who just want a ‘job’ and not buying into the company vision.
Take the time to really understand the company’s aims, mission and vision for the future. Do you align with that? If not, is this the right role for you?
Ask specific questions as if you can already picture yourself already working there to show them that you are ready to start right now.
Asking questions at interview has a number of positive effects:
- It helps you find out more about the company and the position.
- It can be used to divert the interviewer away from a subject you may wish to avoid.
- It can help build a rapport with the interviewer.
- It demonstrates an interest in the job and the company.
- The questions must be about the position and the company.
- Avoid questions about salary, benefits and facilities until after you have been offered the job. You should already have researched the company and it’s products and services.
- Your questions should demonstrate knowledge of the company’s history, successes and problems. If the interviewer is a representative of the personnel department the questions should relate to the company and be general. Specific questions relating to the position should be kept for the line manager who will have a more detailed knowledge.
Example questions relating to the position:
- What are the main responsibilities of the job?
- What are the most difficult aspects of the job?
- How did the vacancy arise?
- What is the career path relating to this position?
- How will my work be assessed?
Example questions relating to the company:
- What is the company hoping to achieve in the next 12 months?
- What new products are the company planning to introduce in the future?
- Are any major changes planned for the department/company?
- Who are your biggest competitors?
Thorough research impresses employers
The information to prepare a really good interview is out there.
Employers post up this information in various places. It’s about knowing where to look. This is your opportunity to shine.
Where to find company information:
- Information relating to companies, financial data, industries and business trends is available in business magazines which often publish on the World Wide Web and allow you to order
- Annual Reports relating to specific companies.
- Companies often have their own web site.
- Newspapers – search on-line press reports including archived articles.
- Local library
It's not what you say, it's how you say it
This is one aspect of the interview that many people struggle with. All the prep has been done.
What if my mind goes blank? What if I don’t come across well?
You could end up worrying and becoming stressed about the interview which will create a negative mindset before you even enter the room.
Interview nerves or presentation nerves?
Obviously you should be clean and smart in appearance but you should also dress appropriately for the position, for example: a student placement that is more expensively dressed than the Managing Director may have a negative impact.
Clothes should be on the conservative side, which is more acceptable to people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds. After all, you are asking to be accepted into the company. Therefore always avoid extremes in hair, clothes, make-up and jewellery. Taking trouble over your appearance shows the employer that the job is important to you.
Even during Covid it’s tempting to dress casual as your interview may be done remotely however think about the impression you are making and what is behind your PC screen.
Travel and Remote Setup tips
There are some things that most people don’t like and feeling pressured or rushed is one of them. If you are late you’ll most likely be flustered and it will impact on your mindset so plan your trip out.
- Check all equipment is working at least one hour before
- Download any software that the employer is using or if it’s your own make sure that it won’t cut off after a certain amount of time (free accounts like Zoom will do this)
- Check that if you are presenting you’ve done a dry run to ensure you are comfortable using the software and are confident you can handle any technical issues (have a backup in place by sending a copy of the presentation before hand)
- Exit out of all other applications so your computer is running as fast as possible
- Make sure your internet connection is stable and that you have a backup plan in case it goes down
Face to Face
- Arrive 15 minutes early.
Make sure you have the correct address and know how you will get there.
- Parking? Public transport access?
- Do a dummy run if you are not sure.
- Make sure you have a mobile phone and a telephone number so that you can ring ahead if circumstances beyond your control are making you late.
- Be polite to everyone you speak to, it could be the Managing Director’s cousin!
- Have a copy of your CV with you.
You should show interest in all aspects of the job and the company especially if shown around the premises. Do your homework on the company and the nature of its business. Take care in how you dress for the interview. First impressions still count!
Some of the main influences on the interviewer are:
- Your experience in other employment or life situations
- Your personal presentation.
- How your personality comes across in the interview
- Your background and references
- Your enthusiasm for both the job and the organisation.
- Relevant qualifications for the position.