Career Management

The Interview – How to Succeed

The envelope falls from the letter box to the floor and with much relief you read: ‘it is with great pleasure that we would like you to attend for interview’. This momentary excitement is often quickly replaced with anxiety or fear. However, it is important to remind yourself that the employer you applied to is interested in you enough that they have called you for an interview; you have any number of things they want. All you have to do is prove to them that there is no other job applicant like you (and we don’t mean in terms of nerves!).

Your preparation starts with research. Ensure you know enough about your potential new employer. After all why would anybody employ somebody who is apathetic about their business/company? Your obvious starting point will be the World Wide Web and a good place to begin is with the interviewer’s own website. It will become apparent to an interviewer how much time you ‘the interviewee’ spent on preparing for the interview and this gives the necessary tell-tale signs to them as to how much you want this job. Beyond the internet – look at their competitors (if relevant); speak to current employees, or people in similar position to the position you have applied for. This demonstrates both initiative and also your actual determination in being successful in this interview.

Re-read the job description and underline key words to ensure you can reflect these back in the interview and make sure you have the key skills to match the job requirements. Jot down your noticeable strengths and where they relate to the requirements for this position. There is no point in simply listing skills and strengths – can you give real life examples of these in action? If you have no examples; is it possible to create some before your interview date?

Your next stop will be to go through the cover letter you sent along with your Curriculum Vitae. At this stage you should be able to go through your work experiences to date without the aid of your CV in an interview setting. If you are asked to talk through your CV; can you do so chronologically? Predict potential awkward questions – such as, why you left your past employer or why there is a gap in your work experience to date?

Preparation for your interview is essential and part of the preparation process will be to PRACTICE! Some people have to approach their interview like playing out a role; a role that is representative of someone confident, calm and self-assured of their ability to succeed in this advertised role. When nerves take over, it is often a case of having to fake an air of confidence. However, the more we practice, the more relaxed we will feel on the actual interview date.

The next step in the preparation stage is to write down possible questions. Use both the job description and your CV to do this. Be mindful of how you will respond to certain questions. What questions make you hesitate and what questions cause you to look down when answering. In being mindful of our physiological and tone reactions, we can avoid obvious uncomfortableness with certain questions on the day. It is a good idea to get a reliable friend to interview your or even better to acquire the services of a professional body who specialise in interview techniques and preparation.

Kilroys College run a Distance Learning in Interview Techniques. This is an extremely practical course which offers participants advice on job applications and on how best to prepare for the interview. You will complete study units, have written assignments, along with the personal guidance of your own private tutor. In devising such a course, Kilroy’s identified that job applicants with the required qualifications often fail at the interview sage. Many do not know what is required of them by employers, nor do they successfully project their full potential in terms of their personality, skills. Experience and talents.

Pitman Training run a one day seminar on interview skills which is the perfect seminar for those wishing to demonstrate their true potential in an interview setting. During this seminar, you will learn key skills to ensure you get the best out of the job interview. It will also address issues like: how to keep calm under pressure and how to maximise your chances of being offered the job.

When it comes to the day of your interview; remember your job is to live up to the expectation the employer has of you from your CV and to ensure you stand out from other interviewees. Ensure you are dressed appropriately in a suit that you feel good in. We will not exude confidence in ourselves if we believe we don’t look good. Also, ensure you give yourself plenty of time to get there and if necessary go there the day before to ensure you know where you are going and how to get there. This eliminates panic at being lost or being late!

This is the time you make yourself memorable for all the right reasons. This is where your practice and planning will pay off. Nerves are fine as long as you manage them. When you go into the interview room; be mindful of your eye contact and even your hand shake – firm but not forceful – definitely not weak! Put your lower back right into the back off the chair and place your both feet on the ground; this grounds you and ensures your posture is upright. Become mindful of where you are and the questions posed to you. Keep your answers on track by keeping the question in mind and do not be afraid to ask for the question to be repeated again. Watch your tone; ensure that it is upbeat (not overtly so) but definitely not a tone that lacks interest. Don’t forget to smile – when appropriate. Ensure that your language uses words that are energetic and positive. Never speak in the negative and never interrupt the interviewer. Certainly a ‘NO-NO’ is criticising former employers and it is also not a good idea to discuss the subject of money at this stage in the process.

There are two questions that interviewees always seem to struggle with in an interview situation: The first one is: Have you any questions for us? and the second one is: Can you tell us about your weaknesses? In the case of the first one, always have a question ready and in the case of the second one, it is a good idea to pick a weakness that you have worked on and had some success with fixing.

When the interview is over, there is no point ruminating on any mistakes you may have made. Rather, reflect on what worked and what didn’t. After all it is ok to make mistakes but it is not ok not to learn from them.