The job interview is probably the most important step in the job search process. It’s your chance to show the company and hiring manager that you’re the best person for their job – not just because of your previous experience, but in terms of a culture-fit for the team.
So when you have landed an interview, be sure that you make the most of it by following these key interview tips:
- There is no such thing as ‘over-preparing’ for an interview!
- Prior to your appointment, ensure you thoroughly research the organisation by visiting their website, social media channels and searching for any news pieces they feature in. If you need more information about the organisation don’t be afraid to ask for it – this shows the interviewer that you are invested in the opportunity.
- Plan your journey – assess where the interview will take place, and plan your journey. Leave at least 20 minutes as a buffer – it’s better to come early to an interview than arrive late.
- Prepare yourself mentally - ask the recruitment consultant or hiring manager for details of the interview structure, who will be interviewing you, for how long, or how many other candidates are there?
- Practice common interview questions. Try to think of examples which describe how you have dealt with different situations in your previous roles.
A note about interview structure
Most interviews will begin with the interviewer describing the job and the organisation to you, before asking you to talk about yourself.
- This has the advantage of allowing you time to settle down and get a feel for the personality of the interviewer(s).
- Be on the alert for new information being offered which you might be expected to answer questions about during the discussion.
Otherwise, the interviewer may decide to start by asking you what attracted you to the position and why you would be a suitable candidate.
- This requires you to make an immediate impact and to talk without the benefit of an established rapport.
- It does offer the benefit of giving you two chances to sell yourself - at the start of the interview and again at the questions stage.
- Be fluent and confident about describing yourself and your greatest career achievements to date. Be concise and provide quantifiable facts about what you have to offer, based on proven results as well as your future potential.
- Memorise your career achievements from your CV and be prepared to elaborate on them, make sure you have all your facts and figures clearly at hand.
- Be enthusiastic about your career thus far and what you have achieved, but avoid unnecessary detail. Elaborate only on key points which catch the interest of the interviewer. Otherwise, take care to be brief in your descriptions.
- Never interrupt - even where the question is obvious, wait for the interviewer to finish before your reply.
- Listen actively - there is always something more to learn about the organisation which may assist with your decision making about the role and business culture.
- Always use positive language to describe your past career history and never criticise former employers, bosses or colleagues - it will simply mark you down as disloyal.
At the end of the interview
- The interviewer will always finish up by asking you if you have any further questions – don’t miss this final opportunity sell yourself to the interviewer(s)
- At a minimum, ask more about the organisational structure, your prospective role in it, the nature of the job, the challenge it offers and the career potential. You can also ask about training, as well as the culture of the team.
- If you feel that you will not remember all the things you need to ask, write them down and ask if the interviewer minds if you refer to your notes.
- You may like to write a thank-you letter after an interview. Re-affirm your continued interest and indicate that you hope you will be called back for a further discussion.
- If your application is unsuccessful, do not be afraid to call and ask for feedback. This can provide invaluable post-interview advice to help your personal development and nail your next round of applications.
Additional interview tips
- Dress to impress. At a minimum, make sure your clothes are clean, pressed and presentable.
- Have a strong hand-shake when you meet the interviewer for the first time.
- Make eye contact
- Remember your CV details
- Make a note of your questions if you feel you might forget them
- Remember interviewers have to convince you that you should join a company just as much as you need them to employ you.
- Interrupt the interviewer
- Smoke before your interview
- Volunteer your weaknesses
A successful interview relies on thorough preparation and as well as thoughtful responses to questions on the day. In addition, you can demonstrate a lot to your interviewers with your own queries as well as an effective follow-up email.