Survive the interview: 7 essential tips
Successful interviews are all about the basics: preparation and attitude. Seems obvious, but errors are easy to make when the pressure is on. We’ve got 7 quick and effective job interview tips and strategies for getting you from shortlist to offer…
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
1. Get an information pack together
Have a good look at the company’s website and take note of its facts, figures, clients and credentials. Look through its social media feeds, and search Google News for up to date information and any interesting nuggets that could come up in conversation.
Casting an analytical eye over its business activities will boost your knowledge and understanding of what they’re all about, what challenges they’re facing and milestones they’re celebrating, and will give depth to your answers.
2. Suss out the interviewer(s)
Get the names and hit the internet – LinkedIn is great for finding out about your interviewer’s credentials, interests and experience. This arms you with a sense of what they’re most likely looking for in their team, and prepares you to align your own strengths and experience with theirs.
3. Make sure your CV is #FactsOnly
Padding your CV is a definite no-no. Few of us can out-blag porky pies from seemingly innocuous ‘employee of the month’ awards to fake degrees and performance stats. Telling lies never pays off – a sharp interviewer will always get to the truth, so honesty is always the best policy.
Bonus pro tip: make sure, whether you’re in a permanent or contract role, to collect the data on projects you’ve contributed to. This gives you cold, hard facts to create case studies that can form rock-solid interview answers.
4. Practice your ‘game face’
You have less than 10 seconds to make and get that all-important first impression; as soon as you enter the room you’ve made decisions faster than the speed of rational thought about your surroundings and the person you meet.
Practice makes perfect; pay attention to how you enter a room, and whether your body language appears nervous or confident. A friend or coach can give you valuable feedback about your posture, smile, speech, handshake, facial expressions and even your personal appearance and dress sense.
You’re not just selling your experience and expertise; the interviewer is buying you.
IN THE INTERVIEW
5. Take questions as they come
The most nerve-racking aspect of interviews is the idea that you can’t control what’s being asked; questions can range from traditional to the unconventional (and sometimes illegal – watch out for questions around marital status, intentions to start families and orientation).
Here’s the easiest way to prepare for any question: have your facts ready about what you did, where, when, how and why, and how you contributed to the outcome. If it helps, have a basic case-study script ready.
Whatever’s thrown at you during an interview, no matter how challenging the questions may be, always demonstrate your enthusiasm in the way you’ve researched and prepared, as it will show your commitment to the job.
Even if questions aren’t fully answered, the interviewer(s) will always appreciate the effort you’ve made.
6. Turn the tables and ask the questions
Remember that this is a two-way exchange, and that you’re expected to come prepared with some ideas and questions of your own.
You’ve done your research and taken notes during the interview, so you should have some thoughts and questions to explore. You’ll impress the interviewer with your thoughtful research and understanding of the job.
But don’t just stick to the abstract; connect with the fellow human opposite you. Try asking engaging questions such as ‘What exciting projects are you currently working on?’ or ‘What do you most enjoy about working here?’. If it feels right, you could even ask ‘Do you feel I’m right for the job?’. It gets them to think of how your skills and personality fit the role.
If that’s too on-the-nose, then ask if there are any aspects of your experience or skillset that concerns them. This way you can address any weaknesses before they do. Which brings us to our next point…
7. Turn your weaknesses around
It’s always tempting for interviewers to delve into your weaknesses and try to catch you out, but you can see this for the tactic it is.
Deployed smartly, this question is a way of sussing out your resiliency, and how you deal with failure. In amateur hands, it can come across as a trap at best or a red flag at worst.
Regardless of how the question is served, a standout strategy (among some other clever ways to address your weaknesses) is to stick to one work-related weakness in an area you’re not being interviewed for.
Talk about how you’ve overcome challenges on specific projects or dealt with tricky stakeholders, and relate them to what the job entails. That way, you’ll mark yourself out as a strong candidate who takes the opportunity to learn and grow with each challenge.
When you’re clear about your value, your next employer will see it too.