Interviews provide an opportunity for you to see if you think you would fit in the role and organisation, as well as the organisation testing the whether you 'fit' the role. Follow our tips to do yourself justice in this two way process.
Don't just rock up. Take time to prepare:
- Be familiar with the job description, person specification, and your own application - make sure you remember why you said you would be perfect for the role in your covering letter!
- If you've been asked to do a task such as presentation, prepare it and practice. Always have a fall back for if the technology lets you down. If you are asked for a five minute presentation, make it five minutes!
- Think about possible questions and your answers to them - "Why do you want the job?", "What are your key strengths?", "Why did you leave your last job?", "Where do you want to be in five years?"
- Think about questions you would like to ask the employer - "What opportunities are there for training and progression?", "How do you see the role developing?", "What does success look like in this role?"
Present yourself well
First impressions count. Turn up at the right place and be on time. Do a practice run if you are not familiar with the location. If you are going to be late, let them know! Dress appropriately. Research the organisation to get a feel for what is appropriate - and be a bit smarter than the average employee, even in an online interview. Display confidence and be polite and friendly to everyone you you meet. While shaking hands is not expected at the moment, do make eye contact and smile.
Most interviews are now taking place online. Set your laptop up with your eyes at camera level and avoid backlighting. Use the widely available settings to minimise background noise and select a neutral backdrop or use the 'blur background' function. Warn your housemates that you are online, mute your phone and make sure your laptop is fully charged. Have a glass of water to hand, but be careful not to tip it on your laptop!
Once the interview has started take your lead from the interviewer(s). Hopefully you will establish a rapport and the interview will flow with both sides able to ask questions.
- Listen carefully to questions and clarify if you are unsure.
- Take your time to consider your answers before launching in.
- Answer the question, giving examples where possible and try not to wander too far off topic.
- Be confident, pleasant and enthusiastic.
- Be clear in what you say.
- Keep your body language in mind - don't fidget, fiddle or look bored. Smile!
- Keep good eye contact with all interviewers if there is more than one.
- Put a positive spin on past challenges. Don't ever be negative about past employers or colleagues.
- Ask questions when invited.
As the interview concludes, remember to:
- Ask what the next steps are in the process, and when you are likely to hear the outcome.
- Restate your desire for the role.
- Thank the interviewer(s) for their time.
- What were your impressions of the organisation and people you met?
- What about the role? Does it meet your expectations now and as a career choice?
- What could you have done better at the interview?
Finally, the waiting is over.
If you are offered the role, show your delight (within reason). There is nothing worse than offering a job to a seemingly disinterested candidate. You may have to negotiate hours, salary, start date etc and it's fine to take a little time to consider the final offer.
If there are several stages to the process, start preparing for the next step and remember that you will be expected to know more about at the company at each stage.
If you aren't offered the job, always ask for feedback and reflect on what you can learn from it. It's not uncommon for unsuccessful candidates who conduct themselves well to be invited to consider a different position.
Want some more guidance?
The directors of Gradsouthwest now offer an interview coaching service.