Naturally, as walking, talking, breathing humans, we tend to feel nervous when something big is at stake. For some, this could be a high profile sporting game in their spare time, for some, this could simply be facing a fear. For many, this could be pre-interview nerves. You’ve found your dream vacancy and your CV has worked its magic. One of the final hurdles is now impressing at interview stage. Face to face. No second chances, no pretending you didn’t read that email and spend half a day thinking of a witty & smart response. Believe it or not, most candidates will reduce their chances of succeeding at interview stage simply through over-preparation. Here’s how to make sure you’re living the interview dream:
1. Don’t rehearse.
Let’s strip things right back to basics. After all, this isn’t a matinee performance at the west end. An interview is simply a discussion between two parties, of two different personalities, of two different interests, discussing a contract involving two parties. Many candidates will pre-rehearse answers to interview questions beforehand, and will try to memorise these answers. Interviews are as much listening, as they are talking. If you spend all your time trying to remember your next ‘lines’, how can you expect to fully listen to the conversation you’re having? You may even run the risk of coming across slightly arrogant through simply failing to carry a conversation. If your prospective employer wanted to employ a robot, to dish out a few lines perfectly, they’d probably have built just that. A robot. The interviewer will also be keen to hear about your personal interests, what you get up to in your spare time, and all the weird and wonderful things about your life. This is usually down to the interviewer calculating a potential culture fit between you, and the team you’ll be working in!
2.Don’t be afraid to get chatty!
The late, great, Charlie Chaplin once said “a day without laughter is a day wasted” – this also applies to interviews! Don’t be afraid to have a laugh, crack the odd joke, and keep things light-hearted. This’ll allow a greater flow of conversation, and will ease out any pre-existing nerves that you have. Getting on with someone in any instance naturally feels great, and interviews are no exception. It’s also a super instant ego-boost, knowing that you’re already having a good time with your boss-to-be! This comes back to point no. 1. If you’re too busy remembering rehearsed conversations, you’ll really struggle to engage on a personal level with the interviewee.
3. Honesty is the best policy.
Always remember to be honest, the interviewer is going to have to feel like they can trust you. After all, you’re an investment for the company, without any guarantee that the investment will pay off. You’ll need to be totally honest in your strengths, weaknesses, salary expectations, qualifications, everything. The last thing you want, is to be caught out when telling a fib, and the chances are, your interview won’t last much longer! Honesty is the first stage towards gaining respect. If you can gain respect from your interviewee from the start, you’ll be off on the right foot from the word go.
4. Real Preparation.
Most of our key pointers have been what not to do. You’re probably wondering what to do with yourself at this point? Here’s a quick fire list of notes for you to print off, and check off (if you fancy!).
Evidence. Bring along any awards, portfolios, statistics, figures, accolades, written references, etc. with you to the interview. Here’s another quote for you; “actions speak louder than words”. Anyone can claim to have achieved what you have, but if you’re going to go through the interview doors with physical evidence that you’re an achiever, this is seriously going to impress the interviewer. Think of it as a court case. Without any evidence, the chances are, you’re going to struggle. With evidence, however, you’re going to see a significant increase in your chances of achieving the desired outcome.
Research. Everyone will tell you to research the company, but not many people know what this actually means. Finding out what the company provides, in terms of a product or service, is the easy bit, and is what everyone will do. Here’s where you step it up a notch. With the knowledge of what you’re looking to do, see how you fit in, and apply it to the context of their products. For example, as a graphic designer, applying for a role at a digital agency, a great question to ask would be “I noticed that you’ve recently taken on ‘XYZ’ as a client, will I be involved with the digital creation of their website? Or would it be more with the likes of your ‘ABC’ account? This not only shows you know what the organisation does as a product/service, but you’ve researched further into their most recent events, and have thought about how you fit into their operation already. A great showing of initiative.
Then there’s the usual stuff that everyone knows; arrive 15 minutes before, dress suitably for the interview, act in a professional manner at all times. Just remember, be yourself, be prepared to chat about what you did at the weekend, be prepared to crack a joke, and be prepared to provide evidence to back up your claims and achievements.
Interviews are nerve-wracking at the best of times, but by relaxing, engaging in a light hearted conversation, and being confident in your abilities, you’ll be in the best possible position to take the interview by the scruff of the neck, and secure that position you’ve been dreaming of. And if that’s all a little too motivational for you, here are some catastrophically, bad, classic interview questionswe all hate, just as a bit of light reading for you!
If you're not quite at interview stage yet, that's not a problem either! Just make sure you're not making any of these jobseeking mistakes!