How you perform at the interview will win or lose you the job. It is so easy to mess it up, say the wrong thing or give the wrong impression because you are either not prepared or relaxed!
If you can master the technique, however, you will be confident enough to negotiate your salary, ask for what you want in terms of conditions of work and secure the job that you deserve.
Listed below are some top interview tips from Sarah Berry, the UK’s best-selling career writer and career consultant. Read them through before attending your interview and you will improve your performance and chance of being offered the job.
1. Be yourself.
The interviewer is interested in knowing about you, the whole person. So your personality is as important as your background. Don’t be afraid of demonstrating your sense of humour, your enthusiasm and your logical manner – all the qualities that make you special.
2. Concentrate on the question.
Waffling or getting away from the point is out. If you are unsure as to whether you have answered it fully, ask the interviewer whether he or she would like you to go into more detail. Use “I” rather than “one”. “One” sounds artificial and can tie “one” up after a while. Sit comfortably and try not to fidget. The interviewer will be seeing several candidates so make sure he or she remembers you. You don’t have to go into an act but try to make a lasting impression.
3. Don’t read sinister meaning into innocent questions.
No one is out to get you. On the contrary, everyone wants you to be the best candidate. If you have any questions ask them, but it is not a test of your initiative nor is it vital to ask something. However, remember that what you do ask says a lot about you as a person, so think about how you phrase the question.
4. Always tell the truth.
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to make something sound more impressive by exaggerating the facts. If there are gaps in your CV or failed exams, explain them honestly but concisely. Try to show how you have learnt from the experience.
5. Do not disguise ignorance.
It is much better to say that you are unclear of what the question is asking than to dig a hole for yourself.
6. Be positive, enthusiastic and interesting.
Enthusiasm generates energy and positive feelings, so talk enthusiastically about your current role and job. Remember that the tone of your voice is a real indication of what you are truly saying. Lowering your voice at the end of a sentence conveys strength whereas raising your voice reveals an element of uncertainty and converts a statement into a question. Consider listening to yourself on tape beforehand.
7. Read the clues.
Just as you should be conscious of your posture, your facial expressions and your arm movements, you should also watch the interviewer’s. Take the queues you are given. If he looks bored – fist clenched and placed on the side of his face, is fidgeting or becomes obsessed with note-taking, wrap up what you are saying. On the other hand, if the interviewer strikes up points of common interest, do not overlook the significance of this. Try not to cut him or her down but instead give him or her the opportunity to talk.
8. Avoid extreme behaviour.
Being too familiar, negative or aggressive will put people off. For example, if the interviewer entices you to be aggressive, try not to match this behaviour. Diffuse the situation by agreeing with the interviewer that it may appear to be like that, but you actually see it like this….
9. Be loyal.
Do not be tempted to moan about previous jobs, bosses and the management style. It will not stand you in good stead and will only reflect badly on you. Personality clashes and different styles of management are acceptable but long moans aren’t. Minimise discussions and stress something positive about your move.
10. Do not lose interest.
Do not lose interest in the interview halfway through, even if you realise that you have made a mistake and that the job on offer just isn’t for you. You do not want to be accused of time-wasting or to prejudice your chances of being considered for another job in another area, so it is always worthwhile continuing and remembering that you can always turn a job down.
11. Don’t refuse to do any tests.
You may not enjoy doing them but then who does? Take them seriously and read the instructions carefully. Remember that you may find the feedback useful. It could help you to know yourself better.
12. Close the interview properly.
You may be relieved that the whole thing is over but not just yet. Endings are important. Ask what happens next and whether any action is required from yourself. To gain an impression of how you fared, you could ask whether you are the type of person they are looking for. This type of approach can often retrieve a marginal situation into your favour and also give you an idea of your level of performance.
Remember, the objective of any interview is not to talk to the interviewer about yourself but to communicate your ability, willingness and suitability for the job. Don’t be afraid to reveal details about yourself as it will work to your advantage. Take the stage and shine.
After the Interview
If you haven’t heard from the employer after a week, you may begin to get impatient for a reply. Frequently applicants are unsure as to what to do. “Do I call?” or “Do I wait?”
If you feel comfortable with calling the employer and you can make the call in a calm, informative manner, then this can only work in your favour. On the other hand, if you feel you can’t make the call then write a letter. The focus of the call/letter is “Can I offer you any further information to help with your decision?” Also try to convey how positive you would feel about the job if it were offered to you.
Read a copy of Sarah Berry’s ebook “Win the Job at the Interview“