Firstly, an interview is a two way process. It is an opportunity for the candidate to see if they think they would fit in the role and organisation, as well as the organisation testing the candidate’s fit for the role.
You need to plan for your interview – 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, e.g. a presentation – prepare it, and have a fall back for if the technology lets you down. If you are asked for a 5 minute presentation, make it 5 minutes!
- think about likely 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 5 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?”
First impressions count. Turn up at the right place, and be on time (practically plan to be early!) If you are going to be late – let them know! Be appropriately dressed – research the organisation to get a feel for what appropriate is – and be a bit smarter than the average employee. Display confidence, and be polite and friendly to all the staff you meet. Make eye contact, and shake hands when offered.
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. Remember:
- listen carefully to questions and clarify if you are unsure.
- answer the question, but try not to wander too far off topic.
- be confident and enthusiastic.
- be clear in what you say.
- keep your body language in mind – don’t fidget, fiddle, look aggressive, look too relaxed or disinterested – remain more neutral.
- keep good eye contact with all interviewers if there is more than one.
- put a positive spin on past challenges – e.g. don’t be overly negative about past employers.
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 seeing you.
Reflect on the process:
- 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?
And finally, the waiting is over, and you are notified of the outcome:
- you are through to the next stage – either another interview or some further assessment activities – so again prepare as above.
- you are offered the role – you may have to negotiate salary, hours, start date etc. so be prepared to do so.
- you are not offered the position – ask for feedback as to why: how could you improve on your application and interview performance; are there shortfalls in your experience or skills you could work on? By being proactive here the interviewer might well consider you for future roles or refer you to others as you are demonstrating a willingness to learn and improve!
For more top tips go to: http://www.gradsouthwest.com/careers-advice/
Dr Deborah Watson, Director, Gradsouthwest Ltd.