Top 10 Tips for successful interviews
The job interview is your opportunity to demonstrate that you are even better than the person described in your CV. Interviews make even the most confident people nervous, but good preparation will help you be successful. Here we share our secrets for successful interviews to help you "discover what's under the surface" so that you stand out from the crowd.
Before the interview
Read the job description carefully, making sure you understand the skills, experience and competencies necessary for the role. Look for specific key words in the job description (e.g. leadership, delivery, financial responsibility) to ensure you focus on these at interview. 'Google' the company to learn about what it does, it's strategic objectives, it's recent successes, it's financial position, and importantly, its culture. Use this information to show company awareness and how you would be a great fit.
At interview, when you are under pressure, it is all too easy to forget about key achievements, dates, or roles. So, review your CV and then review it again. Make sure you can recount your entire CV, from top to bottom, and you can draw out the key achievements from a specific role. Also ensure that you can talk about specific competencies you demonstrated in several roles so that you can answer questions like "so which roles were most demanding from a 'leadership' perspective."
Expect there to be more than one interviewee and probably several interview stages. Make sure you know who is interviewing you and the likely questions they will ask. Most interviews kick off with a "tell me about yourself" question and always include an off the wall ones such as "so what's the biggest risk you have taken" or "what's your biggest failure and what lessons did you learn". Be prepared for those ones.
Arriving early means that you have time to familiarise yourself with the environment and that you have a few moments before the interview to review your CV (again!). Take time to look around, absorb the culture, and rehearse some answers. On arrival, make sure you are friendly to the receptionist and whoever meets you at reception (perhaps the PA). You will be surprised how often hiring managers ask PAs, "so what did you think of....".
First impressions count and hiring managers will form judgments, consciously or unconsciously, within the first few seconds of meeting you. Make sure your clothes are clean and smart, and that you look presentable. What to wear will clearly depend upon who you are meeting, the level of the role, and the sector.
Be confident about yourself, the role you are applying for and the company. A good tip is to make conversation early with a little 'small talk', about the weather, the building etc. This gives the impression of confidence.
Be prepared to recount several examples of times when you accomplished something important. Be specific about what the task was, how you went about it, any problems you faced, what skills or strengths you used to succeed, and what lessons you learned. A good acronym to remember is STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result).
There will be plenty of competition for the role with similar work experience and qualifications to you, so make yourself stand out from the crowd. Highlight unique strengths that are not just a result of a job or a course. Are you persistent and dedicated? Are you a natural-born leader and communicator? Are you a team player? Can you leverage results indirectly? Make sure the hiring manager knows the value that you will bring to his/her team.
Never lie on your CV or at a job interview. Answer all questions honestly and with conviction.
Make sure you listen carefully, especially if the interview is competency-based. Always wait until they have finished and never interrupt. For example, if the competency is 'delivering results' then ensure you have an example prepared that demonstrates the competency.