Advice on How to Perform Well at Interviews
Preparation for an interview is essential to create a great impression. This may sound obvious, but too many people walk into an interview without knowing as much as they should about the industry, the company and the problems it faces. If you are being interviewed, you can be certain there is a problem to solve, otherwise the company wouldn’t be hiring.
Understand the company
Find out as much as you can about the position, the company and its needs, so you can demonstrate how your background and experience can meet its needs. You can gather information from the company’s website, searching for articles online and asking people in your professional network who may have insider knowledge to share.
Take some time to mentally review the skills and character traits you have that will help the company’s bottom line. Think in terms of the value you can add to the position and the company.
Know your job history
Interviewers will want to see consistency between your CV and what you say during interview. Be sure to remember the start and finish dates of your past jobs, review your achievements and be prepared to describe your work experience in detail. Documentation such as recognition certificates or references letters are a good way to confirm what you are saying. Practice describing your experience in terms of your responsibilities and achievements at each job.
Know the questions
Interviewers often use the same standard questions. You can almost bet on being asked: "Tell me about yourself" or “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Put yourself in the employer’s shoes and ask yourself, "If I were hiring someone for this position, what would I want to know?" Then answer those questions. Be prepared for tough questions too. Think of the hardest questions you could be asked about your experience and abilities, then prepare positive responses.
Prepare your own questions
Employers are often as interested in the questions you ask as they are in your answers. Intelligent questions about the position, the company and the industry will create a favorable impression. Some examples are: “Where does this position fit into the company as a whole? What goals does management have for this position in the short and mid-term? What is the most significant challenge facing your staff now?”
Visualize the interview
Try to picture the entire interview, from start to finish. See yourself performing with style and confidence. How will the interview end? Will you get a job offer or be called back for a second interview?
Make a good first impression
The success of an interview is often determined by the impression you make during the first five minutes. To create the best first impression, you must present yourself as professional, competent and enthusiastic. Remember, the goal is to convince the interviewer that you would be an asset to the company.
Do whatever it takes to arrive a few minutes early. Gauge the time it will take you to get to the interview by using applications such as Waze or Google Maps, and always plan to be at least 15 minutes early.
Always dress appropriately for the position you are being interviewed for and always be immaculately attired. If you don't know what the typical attire at the company is, call and ask your consultant. Take the time to ensure shoes are polished and your clothes are freshly pressed.
Clean hair and fingernails are essential. Hair should be styled conservatively, and the use of excessive makeup, perfume and jewelry should be avoided.
Traditionally, a firm handshake was appropriate and projected confidence. However, in the Covid-19 era, initiating a handshake could create a negative impression, so you should opt for a respectful alternative, such as placing your right hand over your heart for a few seconds while making eye contact and a slight nod.
Body language is a great way to enforce what you are saying during an interview. Stand straight, move confidently and sit slightly forward in your chair.
Have an agenda in mind
Plan your own agenda and visualize where the interview should be heading. Having a plan will give you the confidence to move from one area of questioning to another. As most interviewers are as uncomfortable with interviewing as you are, you can put the interviewer at ease by helping things move smoothly.
Never underestimate the importance of showing an interest in the opportunity. Show your enthusiasm by making eye contact and keeping an interested expression. Nod and gesture in moderation but avoid excessive body movement as it can distract the interviewer. Listen carefully and ask questions to probe deeper into what the interviewer is telling you.
Good grammar and articulate speech are essential. If this is an area of weakness for you, then work on it. Practice on your family, practice in front of a mirror, record your voice, take classes. As your communication skills increase, so too will the job offers.
Avoid negative statements about previous jobs or employers
Never make them. Instead, be diplomatic. You can be open about your reasons for leaving without being negative. No matter how bad your last job or boss was, there's probably something useful you learned from the experience.
At the end of the interview, thank everybody their time. Once you are away from the interview venue, call your consultant with feedback on the interview. Detailed feedback can often help your consultant secure you a second interview or job offer. Please do not hesitate to speak to our consultants if you need any further interview advice.