Interview Tips. Let’s Prepare.
Your resume has landed you a job interview and now you must make the most of a “face-to-face” meeting to land the role. The editor of careerone.com.au Kate Southam has some practical pointers on getting interview-ready.
Being as prepared as possible is the key to success in the interview game.
Visit the prospective employer’s website and browse through the “About Us,” “Employment,” “Careers,” “Our People,” and “Media” or “News” sections. The State Library and other large public reference libraries will be able to provide newspaper clippings on a given company so it might be worth a visit. An annual report can also be a great source of information and can be picked up from the reception desk of the company you are interviewing with. Again, State Libraries keep the annual reports of government organisations as well as a number of publicly listed companies. If you are going through a recruitment firm, your consultant should be only too happy (and impressed) to help you do your homework.
Rehearsing with a friend or family member is a great way to soothe pre-interview nerves. In fact, do it! It will not only build confidence and communication skills but will also help you get your thoughts straight. Your rehearsal partner can tell you if you’re speaking too quickly, if your sentences are too long or your answers hard to follow. Rehearse again and again until you feel your answers are flowing. Oh, and don’t get mad at your rehearsal partner when they raise improvement points. They’re on your side, remember?
Use the “behavioural interviewing” technique
This is where the question requires the interviewee to provide an actual example from their work or life experience. Questions will start with words such as “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of …”. The technique is built on the theory that best predictor of future performance is past performance.
I have prepared a detailed article on this technique so use the Ask Kate link if you want a copy. I have also written a separate article on how to answer the dreaded “strength/weakness” question.
Before the interview, find out the name and title of each and every person you will be meeting with. Memorise the names. Again, your recruitment consultant should provide these. If you are dealing directly with the company, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask its HR department to provide these details.
Take extra care with your appearance. Ensure your clothes are clean and well ironed. Check for stains, stray threads and loose buttons. Avoid visual distractions such as loud ties, chipped nail polish, heavy make up, sheer fabrics, heavy ear rings, jewellry that jangles, overpowering fragrances and unwashed hair or hair that flops into your eyes or needs constant pushing back.
On the morning of the interview, go for a walk or spend some time doing stretches. You will breathe deeply, which will help you relax, have better posture and therefore look the part of the successful candidate. On the way to the interview, walk tall and smile. Strangers will smile back at you and the receptionist at the interview firm will be nice to you. By the time you hit the interview, you’ll feel good. Remember, some butterflies in the stomach are okay. Fear and excitement both cause butterflies so tell yourself those flutters are excitement.
During the interview
Don’t say anything negative about a past employer.
Don’t interrupt anyone.
Keep your answers relatively short and to the point. If the interviewer wants more information, he or she will ask for it. By the same token, try to avoid answering with just a “yes” or “no”.
Maintain good eye contact. If there is more than one person at the interview, talk to both or all of them – no matter how junior or seemingly incidental.
Prepare something for when you are invited to ask questions. Two to three questions is enough. Sound questions could include who you will be reporting to, questions about the team you would be joining, career path options, projects you could be working on. Salary and benefit questions are best saved up until you have ultimate bargaining power – at the very least, second interview stage. The point of ultimate power is the time between being offered the job and accepting it.
Think carefully before accepting a drink. You might find yourself in a chair without arms and out of reach of a table balancing a coffee, tea or glass of water throughout the interview.
Smile – whenever appropriate of course.