5 steps to the perfect interview
Whether you’re an experienced applicant or getting ready for your first ever interview, it never hurts to get advice from the experts. And who better than Kirstie Mackey, Head of LifeSkills, to provide tips on preparing for and performing well in a job interview?
1. Practise doesn’t always make perfect
It’s vital to prepare, but you can actually be ‘too ready’ for an interview (sort of). For example, doing things like scripting your answers can make things tricky, particularly if the interviewer throws in a question you hadn’t considered. Plus, your answers may not come across naturally. Preparing an answer guide to example questions with key points and examples that you want to cover will help stop you ‘speed reading’ your responses and potentially getting flustered.
Dan explains the benefits of speaking slowly in job interviews
2. Identify your weaknesses
‘What’s your greatest weakness?’ Interviewers love asking this question, mainly because of the theory that what you believe to be your weaknesses are really your strengths, and vice versa. For instance, you might say that people find you’re really picky about accuracy when giving feedback on a piece of writing. However, what the interviewer hears is that you're probably really good at grammar, editorial and quality control.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you should select a weakness in the hope that it will actually communicate a strength (‘Oh, you know, I’m a perfectionist’) It could easily backfire. Be honest. Find a small weakness and explain how you’re tackling it.
3. But enough about me…
A job interview is as much about you determining an organisation’s suitability as it is about the interviewer finding out if you’re the right candidate. If you can, turn the interview into a conversation and ask questions about the organisation’s structure, plans or recent achievements. This will show you’re interested and engaged and it will help make the interview – and you – more relaxed. Do some research beforehand through social media about the organisation and the person you’re talking to, to craft your questions.
4. Open up
Just as important as finding out if you have the right skills or attitude, is whether or not you’ll fit in with the team. So expect some questions about who you are as a person. They won’t be too personal (and you don’t have to answer anything you’re not comfortable with) but you should take the opportunity to provide positive insights about your likes and interests.
5. Leave them wanting more
The best you can hope for – aside from a job offer – is that the interviewer remembers you. You can make this more likely by leaving behind some examples of your work or an interesting newspaper article that might be of interest. You’ll not only be giving the interviewer a physical reminder but you’ll be showing them you’re keen.
Remember that organisations are just as eager to find great people as you are to land a great job. The fact that you’ve been selected to come in for a chat is a good sign that you’re the type of person they ultimately want to give the job to. Check out more tips and advice for coming across confidently here. Good luck.
Why not extend your interview knowledge further by trying one of the resources below? Alternatively, you can visit our interviews hub for more tools and tips.