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Be The Stand Out Candidate At Interview
Congratulations ... you've been invited for an interview! But after all of the hard work that you've already put into preparing your CV and personal profile, how do you now perform in front of potential employers to ensure that you secure the position that you are looking for?
Dressing appropriately, arriving 15 minutes early and maintaining eye contact are all givens ... we want you to change the way that you think about interviews to improve your performance and here are a few tips to help you.
- The interview panel - find out if you can who will be conducting the interview and try to find their profile on LinkedIn or something about them on the company website (often under 'Meet the Team') . Establish if you have anything in common with them for example you studies at the same university or have worked for the same employer previously.
- Type of interview - try to anticipate the format for the interview. Will it be formal, informal or practical for example? Will it include tests?
- Compare your CV to the job brief - identify where your skills and experience is similar and be aware of any differences. Think about any questions that could be asked where your CV does not match
- Research - visit the company's website for information especially around their competencies and the company values. Do they align with your own?
- Competence - be prepared to give examples and instances to demonstrate that you are prepared and capable of undertaking the role that you are being interviewed for
- Questions - prepare some intelligent questions before the interview. One way to do this is to imagine that you have been offered the job and that one week in you have to prepare for a meeting with key stakeholders in the company. What questions would you ask in that meeting that would help you success in your new role?
- Situation - think about a recent challenge or situation
- Task - What did you have to do or achieve? What did you need to overcome? What outcome were you looking for?
- Action - What did you do? Why did you do it? What were the other options? What was your personal contribution? What skills did you use?
- Result - What was the outcome of your actions relating to the task? Be specific so talk in time, percentage or monetary terms.
DON'T PANIC - If you are faced with a situation when you cannot think of anything to say here are a few tips that may help.
- Pause and breathe - Say something like “I am just going to think about that for a moment” so that the interviewer knows that you will not be speaking immediately – there is nothing wrong with thinking through your answer.
- Seek clarity - If you still are not sure how to answer, be honest and ask for help – “Sorry, just so that I am clear, could you repeat the question?” or “I am really sorry but I’m not sure I completely understand the question. What sort of thing are you looking to hear about?”
- Think - If you can’t think of an answer, show the interviewer that you are thinking it through while you are talking. It is just as important for the interviewer to see how you think, as well as what you have done. So for example “Well I have not actually faced that sort of issue in the past, but if faced with it now, I suppose I would start by…”
- Be prepared - Preparation is the best solution to someone who can suffer from nerves. Make sure that you have a number of relevant examples that you have practiced talking about and rely on this content if you cannot think of anything else to say.
Nerves are normal! An interview is not a normal social situation - you are meeting people who you may have not met previously so you and they are unsure quite how to act. Being nervous before and during an interview are normal and can actually help you to perform better.
A more informal conversational meeting can help to settle nerves but this may not be possible and panel style interviews do not give the opportunity to have a more intimate discussion with one person so accept that you may have a limited opportunity to break the ice in those situations.
Nervousness can have 2 main effects - either your mind goes blank and you cannot think of anything to say in response to a question OR you can speak too much and not allow the other person back into the conversation.
Some people get excited or nervous in interviews and the result is that they might talk too much. Often, they even know they are doing it, but literally don’t know how to stop. Here is a really simple method to stop you from talking too much:
- Pause - If you find you have been speaking for too long, pause, and then start your next sentence with “so in answer to your question” and then wrap up your answer.
- Don't fear silence - occasional silence in an interview is fine, often inevitable because interviewers have a lot of things to think about when interviewing. Perhaps invite the other person to respond to what you are saying by encouraging conversation, for example by saying: “how does that compare to the issues you have experienced yourself?”, This shows the other person you have finished what you are saying, whilst encouraging a conversation there is an additional benefit. If your answer is not quite what the interviewer wants to hear, they will mention differences between their experience and your own – offering you the chance to respond with something more relevant.