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Maximising success at every stage of the interview process
The word ‘interview’ is often viewed as synonymous with feelings of nerves and anxiety; but with the help of this article, you will be equipped with the necessary tools to beat the nerves, prepare and deliver a successful interview.
- Research your company — it is crucial that you know have a good understanding of the organisation that you are interviewing at. By knowing what products/services the business sells, the market it trades in and having an idea of its overall strategy, you are already demonstrating that you are interested in the job and have a willingness to learn. Make an effort to look through the company’s website and seek out your interviewers on LinkedIn – this will ensure that on the day you have a perfectly clear idea of what you are interviewing for and who you are interviewing with.
- Research is a two way street — in the same way that you should research the company; you should expect that they will do the same. Ensure that your social media profiles have the appropriate privacy settings on them and make sure your LinkedIn is up to date and professional.
- Know the dress code — don’t be afraid to ask ahead for the dress code of the company; contrary to popular belief there is such a thing as being overdressed. If a company operates a policy of smart/casual and you arrive in a formal suit, they may get the impression that you as are the wrong fit for the company and its ethos. (However, if you are really unsure go for smart rather than casual.)
- Practice, practice, practice — like with anything, practice makes perfect. Take time to stand in front of a mirror and visualise yourself in the interview room. Practice elaborating on the skills, qualities and examples that you have listed in your CV. Always be prepared to provide three or four different examples/situations that prove a particular skill set.
- Know your route — it may sound obvious — but it is vital that you know where you are going; with the nerves and stress of the interview day the last thing that you want is to get lost. This is even more important if you plan to take public transport — always have a couple of back up routes, in case the one you planned is delayed or cancelled. If you are running late always phone ahead to warn your interviewer so they aren’t surprised when you aren’t there at your agreed time.
- Dealing with nerves — it is inevitable that when it comes to the day of the interview you will get a bout of nerves — but when channelled in the right way they can actually help you to be at your very best. So long as you have done all you can in the lead up to the interview try to be calm and reassure yourself that this is just a professional conversation not a personal interrogation. Research breathing techniques — slowing your breathing can be really effective in making you feel calmer.
- First impressions count — from the moment you walk into the room you need to be selling yourself. Confidence is key — When you greet your interviewer/s make sure you use a firm handshake and make eye contact. If you are nervous, the breathing techniques will come in handy here. A study by Albert Merhabian a professor of communications found that the relative importance of body language when conveying a message is 55%, compared with 38% tone and 7% words. This shows just how important body language is when it comes to a job interview.
- Answering the questions — You’ve battled through the research, fought off the nerves and now it’s time to really sell yourself. Look the interviewer in the eye, and if it’s a panel interview don’t just stare at one of them, keep an open body stance and engage the whole panel. When answering competency based questions (e.g. describe a situation where you demonstrated leadership etc..), adopt the STAR technique. The STAR technique (Situation, Task, Action and Result) provides you with a basic template on how to answer these questions, allowing you to really show your abilities.
- Ask questions — at the end of the interview ask intelligent questions, it shows the interviewer that you are someone who was engaged. Find out what questions you could ask an interviewer to really set you apart from the rest.
- Feedback — you can usually expect to hear back from the interviewer within the first couple of weeks after your interview but it all depends on the pool of candidates they have to get through. Speak to your recruiter about when you can expect to hear back. No matter what the outcome you should always seek advice/feedback from the interviewer (especially if it was unsuccessful!) so that you know where to improve for the next interview.