Congratulations! You’ve landed yourself an interview.
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking if you aren’t comfortable with ‘selling’ yourself. You may even be questioning if you should go to the interview or not. But believe it or not, being skilled in interviews is something you can learn.
This comprehensive guide will ensure you become a master of the job interview
How to make a good first impression
In the first few seconds of meeting you, an interviewer will make a judgement, so it’s important to make sure it’s a positive first impression.
A crucial part of this is dressing for success, so before the interview, you should prepare a professional looking outfit and make sure you’re well groomed.
When you first meet with the interviewer, smile confidently and shake their hand. Also, avoid being late as this not only makes a bad impression, but you also run the risk of turning up looking flustered.
How to research the employer before your interview
Pre-interview research is so important. If you’ve done your interview preparation properly, you should be able to demonstrate your knowledge during the interview and impress your prospective employer.
Start by Googling the employer and checking out its website, social media profiles and other literature available online. You want to try and develop a solid picture of the company’s goals and what it stands for. Not only is this to prove to the employer that you know your stuff and are serious about joining the company, but also to help you devise any questions you might want to ask.
Selling your skills and abilities
Though this point may sound obvious, selling yourself is something that many find an uncomfortable task. Remember, the interview is your chance to demonstrate why you’re the best candidate for the job.
Recruiters see a job vacancy as a problem, a gap that needs to be filled, so you need to market yourself as the solution to their problem.
You should know your CV and the job description inside out. Use these documents to guide you through the interview, and pick examples of your experience or education that demonstrate why you’d be successful in the role.
Be sure to tailor each pitch to the job you’re applying for. Pick the examples that fit best with not only the role but also the company and its values.
Using the STAR method to answer interview questions
Once you’ve got to know your CV and the role you’re interviewing for, you must prepare for common interview questions.
It’s all very well claiming that you’re ‘a good leader’ or ‘a team player’, but that’s not the right way to answer an interview question in 2019.
Each time you reference one of your skills you should support it with an example to prove to the interviewer that your skills are genuine. A popular technique for illustrating your skills is the STAR method:
- Situation: Give some context to the story you’re about to tell, outline where you were and why you were there.
- Task: Describe what you were doing and if you faced any challenges whilst doing it.
- Action: Then explain the actions you took to complete the task and how you tackled any challenges you faced.
- Results: Finally, reveal the outcome, this should demonstrate your skills, what you achieved and also anything you learnt from the situation.
Keep this method in mind and come up with a few go-to examples you can use in the interview. If you’ve done your research, you should be able to tailor these examples more specifically to the role you’re applying for.
Improving your body language
Your body language will say a lot about you. Make sure you’re aware of how you’re presenting yourself and know how to make your body language work to your benefit.
Using your hands a lot when talking can make your stories more animated and aid communication, but be careful not to go overboard with your gestures. Also, avoid fidgeting and fiddling with things, like your pen or jewellery. While this might happen if you’re nervous, the interviewer may find your jitters distracting, so be mindful of your behaviour.
You want to look confident and professional, so avoid slouching in your chair, and try to smile and maintain eye contact with your interviewer too.
Dealing with nerves
If you’ve done all the correct interview preparation and you’re feeling clued-up and confident, hopefully, you shouldn’t feel too nervous. This being said, interviews (especially if it’s for your dream job) can be a bit nerve-wracking. Therefore, learning how to control your nerves so they don’t get the better of you is an important step.
You should aim to come across as calm and confident, so be aware of your breathing throughout. If you begin to feel stressed, take a few subtle deep breaths.
Listen carefully to the interviewer so you don’t miss their questions, and focus on the answers you’ve prepared. If you build up a rapport with your interviewer, this can also help you to relax and feel more at ease around them.
An essential part of interview preparation is devising a few questions to ask your interviewers at the end of your interview.
Not only is this a chance to show that you’ve done your research and impress your prospective employer, it’s also an opportunity to make sure that you leave that interview knowing whether this job is a great fit for you.
You should have around three to five great questions prepared ahead of your interview. While you should aim to ask at least a couple, you might find the employer answers several during the interview, so prepare a few extra to cover your back.
So, what should you ask prospective employers at the end of your interview?
Here are our top five questions to ask employers at the end of your interview
1. Is there room for development in this position?
This particular interview question is great for two reasons.
Firstly, it shows recruiters that you’re serious about the job and are likely to stick around long-term.
Hiring for a new role takes a considerable amount of time and effort. As a result, employers want to make sure that if they take you on board and train you up, they won’t have to repeat the process in six months’ time.
Asking this question diminishes many of those worries.
Secondly, if you know progression opportunities and learning new skills is important to you, you need to find out if they are available in this new position. The last thing you want is to start your new job and realise you can’t go anywhere.
2. How would you describe the general culture of the company and the workplace?
Asking about the company culture is another way to make sure that this job is the one for you. While the role might sound great, if the company doesn’t operate in a way you like, you may find yourself falling out of love with your job – fast!
For example, one person may prefer to work in a focused office with strict working hours. While another may prefer a more lax environment.
If you’re particularly fond of working for a company that looks after its staff and invests in team bonding, you could always open up this question to ask about the most recent company outing or activity. If there weren’t any, it might mean that the company is a little stuffier.
Ultimately, it’s worth asking this question to discover the company’s true culture and if you can see yourself fitting in.
3. What is the team like that I will be working with?
This question is great to ask because it directly addresses where you fit in. Try to find out how many people are in your team, what their roles are and who you will report to.
4. Why are you hiring for this role?
If you want to get to the nitty gritty of the business and the vacancy, this question ought to do it.
It’s extremely useful for you to know whether the position you’re interviewing for is brand new. It might be a result of company growth, or if you are filling someone else’s shoes. If it’s the latter, you may also like to find out if the person was promoted or moved on for another opportunity, offering you an insight into the longevity of the role.
5. What are some KPIs for this position?
This question is great for identifying exactly how the company works and the purpose of this vacancy.
If the interviewer responds with a well thought out answer and some tangible goals, you know there is a specific need from the person they’re hiring. However, a vaguer answer may suggest that the role isn’t quite defined at this stage. Although it may become more structured once the new hire starts.
Depending on your career goals, immediate vocational needs and working style, it’s likely that one type of role will suit you better than the other. Therefore, try to identify the KPIs for the role you’re interviewing for, to make sure it’s a fit for you.