Interview tips

You’ve passed the initial CV scanning, telephone and maybe even Skype interview and you’ve been called for a face-to-face interview.  Congratulations…  Now you just need to impress your interviewer and make it through to the second round to be in with a chance of securing the role.  But it is at this stage that many candidates who look amazing ‘on paper’, fail to impress on the day.

Here are our top interview tips to make sure you do your best on the day…

1. Do your preparation – failing to prepare is preparing to fail…  make sure you do the basic preparation before your interview.  Know who you’re meeting, where and when.  Research the company, check their website and social media activity. Read through your CV and the job description and ideally have both to hand.  Being late won’t make a good first impression – leave in plenty of time, ideally arrive 30-45 minutes beforehand and find a coffee shop or somewhere to sit and go through your notes. Read our guide to interview preparation.

2. Relax it’s an easy thing to say, but harder to do.  Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but try to relax and not let nerves get the better of you.   Take some deep breaths, try to think of it as an exciting experience, that could lead to a new job. Rather than something you must endure.

3. Be nice – It’s a simple thing but one that is easy to forget.  From the moment you walk in the door, your interview starts.  Be polite to the receptionist, don’t sit there discussing the antics of last weekend with your friend on the phone, sit nice and quietly and politely answer any questions you’re asked. Often another member of the team will collect you from reception, make small talk with them, as they may be a potential team member who is also assessing you.  While it is ultimately the interviewer you need to impress, they may well ask the opinion of others.  So, make sure they don’t have anything negative to say.

4. Be concise – while it’s never a good idea to answer a question with a simple yes or no, there is a fine line between a detailed answer and rambling on.  Try to keep your answers thorough without veering too far off the subject matter.  One trick is to try to structure your answers according to the STAR technique (Situation, Task, Analysis, Result). Practice doing this beforehand so you’ll be comfortable with the concept on the day and give clear and concise answers.

5. Be positive – Interviewers have many potentially tricky questions up their sleeve.  From the almost standard, ‘what is your biggest weakness?’ to ‘Why are do you want to leave your current role’ and ‘Tell me about a time you failed?’  Whatever your answer try to keep a positive spin on it.  While you may be leaving because your boss is a nightmare or you can’t stand your colleagues we wouldn’t suggest being that blunt.  Don’t lie but maybe focus on other aspects such as lack of progression or a desire to break into a new sector for example.

6. Sell yourself – an interview is basically a sales pitch and you’re the product.  So make sure every question you answer paints you in the best light possible.  For example, if answering a question involves discussing a team project, try not to start every sentence with ‘We…’.  It’s not a good idea to lie or take credit for something that isn’t your work but focus the answer on the role you played.  Where possible have facts and figures to hand to back up the examples you give.  If you increased sales by 50% or reduced costs by £50,000 then say so.  It makes the answer all the more believable and impressive.

7. Ask questions – Asking questions at the end shows interest, it’s a good idea to have a few potential ones lined up.  For example asking about the company culture, what the company’s plans are for the next 5 years, what training support there is etc. But make sure you don’t ask questions that have already been answered during the interview.

‘Interview tips’ was written by Lesley Colella Career Concierge, Chiumento Ltd. If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future careers advice and musings on the world of work.

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