We enjoy talking about all things related to jobs and careers and try to offer as much advice as we can. Whilst we try to do so regularly both on and off our blog, we’ve come up with this post to bring some of our most commonly provided advice together in one place.
Today we are going to talk about job interviews; nobody likes them, not the interviewer or the interviewee. But they must be done, whether you are looking for your dream job or just any job that brings in the money, you need to attend and impress in an interview.
For the person attending the interview, it can be extremely nerve-wracking. Selling yourself or answering unexpected questions can make you uncomfortable. And meeting new people is always a slightly stressful occasion.
Unfortunately, an interview now doesn’t seem to involve just the one awkward question of ‘what is your greatest weakness?’, there are now a few that seem to be used on a regular basis, with the idea of getting you to answer with a natural response, as opposed to repeating answers that you’ve revised at home in preparation.
New techniques are being used by Human Resource teams and managers, these are designed to do everything from measure your ability to accept criticism in the moment to outright intimidate you.
But being interviewed is a skill that you can learn; with the right tips and techniques you can become an expert at showing your value to potential employers, presenting yourself effectively at interviews, and securing the dream job you desire.
Here we will walk you through some interview techniques you may encounter, and the best way to handle each one.
First and foremost, you have to be prepared for everything when you are attending an interview. You are not the only interviewee that will be nervous and worried about getting asked questions and making a good impression; but if you ensure that you are the most prepared – more so than anyone else will be – then you will naturally feel more relaxed and comfortable.
Do thorough research on the role and on the company and try to specifically relate any past experiences you may have to the relevant position.
If you are applying for your ultimate dream job then you will want to do everything you possibly can to get the role, so why not practice interviewing. Ask trusted friends / colleagues if they will interview you so you can get a feel for what it may be like.
Obviously, it won’t be the same as the real thing but it is all helpful.
Also, you could record these ‘friend interviews’ and see where you could change body language and verbal presentation to be more positive and confident, even if you don’t feel that way inside.
On entering the room you should stand tall, smile, maintain eye contact and give a firm handshake; this will help put you both at ease.
We shouldn’t really need to tell you this but make sure you have your clothes / outfit, directions, references, and anything else you need to take with you ready the night before – this will ensure you are ready ahead of time and fully prepared. You don’t need the extra stress of running around your house beforehand trying to find your socks, for example!
Limiting your job search limits the possibility of finding a job. Having too many filters or too narrow a search criteria then there is the chance you may overlook a huge opportunity because you were too specific.
When you are searching for a job you need to be active in your work and uncover these opportunities. Do not reject the chance of an interview because you don’t think it’s right for you; there is the prospect that it could lead to a referral elsewhere or it could be a new position tailored to fit your knowledge and experience.
As well, it is all extra practice in interviewing. Refining your interview techniques will come with the more you practice, which will also improve your communication skills.
Interviewing as much as you can will also make your network of connections bigger and stronger; you will meet more and more people that are connected to the specific network you want to be in.
Getting out there as much as you can will help you learn more about the current trends, positions and opportunities, and you may find certain paths that you were previously unaware of.
Remember, if you have the special skills that impress in an interview an employer may even refer you to a position that is available at another company. It could happen, so get yourself out there and do some networking.
We all tend to think that our lives are not that interesting and we haven’t done much of an impressive nature; but to other people, people that don’t know us, our story and experiences can be so exciting and extraordinary.
Giving your story – your achievements, failures, dreams, what you’ve learnt – is what makes people understand exactly who you are and what you want from life.
Before you attend an interview, get your story together; think about events, memories and things that have changed your life and shaped who you are. Put it all in to time periods and make sure to get in your feelings, whether they were accomplishments or frustrations.
Focus on the memorable and meaningful moments, and reflect on your career path; how have you arrived where you are? Why did you make certain choices? Who helped you? Do you like new projects?
Remember to practice your story so that when it comes to telling it during an interview, it will come naturally to you and it will flow easily.
Your stories will give you confidence, increase your self-awareness, make you memorable and set you apart from all others.
The test of your practising will come the very next time you are asked ‘Can you tell me about yourself?’
Attending a job interview can be very stressful for anyone, but learning to manage the stress is an essential weapon to have. Little bits of stress can actually help you handle the pressure. Too much stress though, and you could buckle under the pressure and your failure to communicate clearly and creatively will become apparent.
If you can’t quickly relieve stress in the moment and return to a calm state, you’ll almost certainly be unable to take advantage of the other interviewing techniques and tips. All our best intentions go out of the window when we’re overwhelmed by stress.
It’s only when we are calm and relaxed that we can answer interview questions to the best of our ability; learning stress relief techniques before your interview could be vital.
By finding ways to quickly relieve stress before or during an interview, you could find yourself getting closer to that dream job.
There are the common questions that get asked in most interviews; Why do you want the job? Describe when you lead a team and when you worked as part of a team? What do you expect to be doing in five years? What are your weaknesses?
But sometimes an employer may be different and use a style known as behavioural interviewing – this will consist of a series of probing and incisive questions, and will help the employer get a feel of the potential employee’s working style.
An example of a behavioural question would be ‘Describe a situation where you didn’t meet your stated goal and how did you handle it?’
Employers will follow your answers with further questions about your actions. To be fully prepared for these you could write sample questions that you may get asked, and then you should come up with an answer that goes from situation to action taken and then on to the result.
Sometimes you might get asked the most strange question, one that you would never expect to be asked – this is because prospective employers want to get you out of any comfort zone and away from questions you may be expecting and get you thinking about your answers. This will show them the ‘real’ you and not someone that has been practising their responses to expected questions.
Being prepared with questions to ask the interviewer shows that you have taken an interest and done some research in to the prospective company. Employers like this as it shows that you can be assertive.
Always have questions ready to ask, and if you have been engaged throughout the interview you will probably have more to ask at the end.
Research the company, what they do, who they currently employ (if possible), read up on any recent news surrounding the company, whether it is via press releases or new products they may have released.
Ask insightful questions like ‘what challenges are the company currently facing?’ The response from the employer will give you a feel of how you could be part of any solutions.
Try to be thoughtful and self-reflective in both your interview questions and your answers. Show the interviewee you know yourself – your strengths and your weaknesses. Be prepared to talk about which areas would present challenges and how you would address them.
What we go through in this part you will probably think to yourself that these are obvious things to say, but they are also very common mistakes that are made. Take your time to fully prepare before an interview so that you don’t have to worry about anything afterwards.
Dressing appropriately is something that people manage to get wrong.
You want to look professional and clean. Different jobs may mean your attire varies from one interview to another but you should always look well-dressed and put together, no matter where you are attending an interview.
First impressions are very important, we all know this. But making a bad impression before you even arrive at an interview is a cardinal sin. Never ever turn up late for an interview – this could probably cost you the job as it shows a lack of punctuality, which is definitely a must for all prospective employers.
Work it out so that you will arrive five / ten minutes early for an interview. This gives you that time beforehand to relax and get ready for what is ahead.
Always do research into the company you are applying to work for, as you will always get asked what you know about them.
And it can be the easiest question to answer in the entire interview, all you need to do is some research. Background information, history, etc can be found in ‘about us’ sections on company websites.
Do not talk too much either. There is nothing much worse than interviewing someone who goes on and on and on… The interviewer really doesn’t need to know your whole life story. An interview is a professional situation, not a personal one, so don’t get sidetracked into talking about anything outside of your working life.
After your interview is finished and you get outside of the building you will feel a huge weight is now off your shoulders.
But don’t expect that to be the end of your quest for a job. Until you get offered the job, you must carry on doing all the same things you have been doing – applying for jobs and attending interviews – because you can never be certain when that call will finally come to end your job search.
Evaluating how the interview went – the right things, the wrong things – will help you improve in any future interviews. Try to recall any difficult questions you may have encountered and work on a way to respond better to them.
Making a follow up call shows that you are a determined applicant, being too persistent with your calls can show an impatience that will not do your application any good.
Remember that dreams come in all different shapes and sizes and they are often more attainable than you would think. The first thing you should do is decide what you really want to do with your life. Regardless of if it’s getting recruitment in hospitality or even lion taming, you need to do the utmost research into companies and job opportunities to know precisely what you want to do.
Then once you get that interview you have been hoping for, follow our advice to head in the right direction towards getting that role.