Top interview tips!
The single most important part of going to an interview is to make sure that one is prepared - do your homework. Not doing so is one of the most likely causes of not making it into the next round, whereas if you go out of your way to make effort for the interview it will be obvious to the interviewer(s) that you are genuinely motivated about the opportunity and therefore much more likely to succeed. Look at the history and background of the company (without getting bogged down with too much details) and try to remember one or two key events of interest so that you can discuss them during your meeting. You could even try a simple SWOT analysis if you feel that it would be helpful. Also try to find out more about the interviewer(s), where they worked previously, what their interests are – there is no need to stalk the person but finding some common ground will really help build a rapport. Linked in is a great source of information about someone’s work history. Also very important is to take a pen, a writing pad and a copy of your CV to refer to.
“Dressing the part”
It may seem shallow, but aesthetics will be a vital point in making your first impression. Make sure you look professional and comfortable: do not wear trousers/dresses that are too tight or a shirt that cuts you off at the neck. It might be worth investing in new garments if your existing attire doesn’t feel/fit/look right, failing that take your chosen outfit to the dry cleaners and have it ready in plenty of time. If you feel comfortable you will feel more confident. Try to also find out what the dress code is but remember that it’s better to turn up in a suit if the rest of the office is in shorts and flip flops rather than the other way around! Make sure your shoes are shined, your hair is combed and there isn’t a distracting seed stuck in your teeth!
Nail the inevitable ‘so, tell me about yourself’ question
It is very likely that this question will come up, most likely as the ‘ice-breaker’ so do your best to prepare and rehearse this question. Make is personal but not too prying: mention your family, how long you have lived in the area, any hobbies you may have but make sure not to ramble on too much!
Practice the pause
Although it may not feel natural, if your interviewer has asked you a complex question - take a pause to think about your answer. You will come across as calm and composed under pressure, as opposed to blurting out a haphazard response before your interviewer has even finished his sentence.
Ask intelligent questions
As well as finding out about the company and the role, it will be useful to learn what you will be taking on in the future – “what you think are biggest challenges for the organisation in the next 1-2 years” is a great open question to ask. You can also ask why the interviewer(s) decided to join in the first place, and what they enjoy about working there. Remember, an interview is two way street and you need be comfortable that you are joining the right environment – you will be spending a lot of time there if you get the job!
Honesty is the best policy
Another tricky question like ‘tell me about your weaknesses’ must be answered calmly and honestly. As above: take a pause, rehearse this question prior to the interview and be honest. You’ve come this far, and your new potential employer will appreciate an honest and realistic answer – and use it to your advantage. Once you have answered, follow up with an example of one of your strengths and how you overcame a difficult situation. Never tell the interviewer that you ‘have no weaknesses’ – remember, nobody is perfect!
For example, if your interviewer makes a remark of the 6-month gap on your CV between your old job and this interview, always be sure to put a positive spin on this as some organisations (rightly or wrongly) may take this in a negative way. If it’s due to redundancy, highlight the fact that you have used this time to develop yourself personally, maybe you have taken up a new hobby or spent some valuable time with your family and are now refreshed and eager to take on your next role. Do not worry about what other or better qualified candidates may offer – focus on your own individual strengths and you will come across as much more confident.
Knowledge is power
This again comes back to preparation – DO YOUR RESEARCH! Go through websites, social media, news articles, search LinkedIn profiles of the employees in the department you may be joining. This will give the impression of someone who is willing to go the extra mile and will make you stand out above other candidates. In nearly 2 decades of recruitment, we have seen this as the single most important deciding factor of success or failure in an interview.