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5 Interview Tips

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

Interviews for some are like public speaking engagements – they loathe them. You get yourself worked up into a frenzy about what questions might come up and if you’ll have the answers. You worry about making the right impression, too formal you might come over a little stuffy. Too relaxed and the interviewer or panel might not think you want the job. There are several answers to this conundrum and together they are certain to make your interview experience far less stressful and perhaps even enjoyable.

Online or in-person, here are our top 5 tips;

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1. Prepare.

I’ve interviewed hundreds of people across all levels in various organisations and the overwhelming thing most don’t do is prepare. Sure, you look up the company on the website. You might even read the odd press release or news clipping about the organisation you are hoping to get a job offer from. But how well do you know them? Why do you want to work for them? Is it the money; the role; the easy commute; maybe it’s all based on what you’ve been told about the place. Do your due diligence. Read blogs, look online at sites like glass-door or other review sites. Mystery shop the business and see for yourself how they treat customers or clients. Ask for the opinion of people you know working there or who might have friends that do. Ask questions, not necessarily about the role but about the people there, what makes them tick, what things do they enjoy about working there and why?

An interview is a two way street, it’s not an interrogation (if it is, perhaps consider if you want to continue with it at all). Unless you are certain that everything you knew about the company beforehand was correct, you should go with a few searching and open questions. Listen for the answers and delve in deep. Plenty of people have gone into jobs without preparing properly (I know I have) and the result was working in a role or organisation that might not be a good fit for either of you.

2. Your CV is boring.

I don’t want to take up too many words with CVs as it is a topic all on its own. I will say that you need to think about how it’s structured; is it accurate and credible; how’s the spelling and grammar; what is the result of all your achievements – why would the reader think you’re a good fit for the job or role being advertised? Have you spelt out your success and made it relevant to the job you are going for? Try not to BS but by all means highlight successes. Some folk will be forensic with a CV, others barely look at your name at the top but knowing what is in it and being confident it is correct and accurate is a great starting point. Avoid endless lists and spurious details.

3. Get there early.

Not overly early that you sit waiting for hours and become bored. Give yourself time so you are not rushed and feeling under time pressure. Rushing only increases the chances of forgetting something or adding to the stress of the interview. Depending on where the interview is and if it’s at an office or online, you may wish to arrive 30mns ahead of time. Get a coffee/water, re-read your CV or application once more, perhaps checking your questions, then relax. Where you are sitting in the reception area or to the side of an office, observe what is going on around you. What’s the chatter? How do people look in their jobs? It’s amazing what you can learn from observing what people are up to or how they speak on the phone. Where the interview is online, don’t rush in 1 min before and hurriedly plug in your laptop with the empty battery symbol shouting at you for power. Get settled, comfy in your chair or standing. Be ready to go a good 5 mins beforehand. Don’t fret about the small talk to fill the void of others joining – they may not be very talkative any way. Maybe just have a go to stock question you have – maybe not the weather, but you’ll think of something…

4. Participate in the interview.

The number of people who come along to an interview who have little or no interest in the process save for getting right to the end and expecting an offer, is amazing. As mentioned above, it’s your opportunity to ask and delve in deeper. It’s a given that some roles maybe more involved than others but there are still common and relevant questions that make sense whether you’re a budding apprentice or a C-level candidate.

Take notes - I always have a notebook with me for every meeting I attend. In interviews I’ll have my questions pre-written or noted as the person interviewing me is speaking so I can then query or ask for expansion on those points if required. At worst it gives the impression you are listening and interested in the what the other person is saying. At best, it’s a powerful aide de memoir about the process that you can reflect on and follow up with some accuracy. You can note down facts and figures that otherwise may escape your memory when in the ‘heat’ of the moment. I always note names at the top of the page (I have an appalling memory) and this helps me no-end. Even if you don’t use it, it’s good to have the means to note things down.

5. Be You

I don’t mean for this to sound too cheesy, but you’ll find it far easier to relax and give the best reflection of yourself if you are truthful about who you are. That’s not to say you shouldn’t make an effort to behave yourself, that’s a given, but acting up and being a distortion of who you are can often result in the outcome you don’t want. Most people know when they are being lied to and as is all too often the case when one overstates their achievements or successes, they quickly become uncovered as nonsense. There’s no need.

It's easy to become worked up and doubt yourself, but an interview is rarely a life or death situation. 99% of the time you are not at risk. No harm will come to you and if you have prepared and got yourself organised, you might even start to enjoy the process. It’s your opportunity to share the many skills and attributes you have as a person. You know your subject matter (you) better than any other and this is your chance to show it off. Share bits of your personality and in return you’re more likely to get a true response in return. If you decide it’s not right for you, that’s fine too. Be polite – you never know when and if paths might cross again the future.

At a time when the competition is going through the roof, every opportunity needs to be nurtured and job seekers need to be doing everything they possibly can to stand out. We can’t find you a job but we can help you prepare. If you want a little guidance and support, perhaps some interview prep and presentation tips, get in touch to see how we might be able to help.

Good luck.

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