So, you’ve found the dream job, sent in a stand out CV and cover letter and now you’ve been invited for an interview. Now it gets tough! Are your interview techniques up to scratch? Read on for my top tips and advice.
Firstly, don’t view the interview as a negative thing. It isn’t – it’s a chance to show the recruiters that you are the right person for the role, that you are confident and that you have a good personality.
The most important thing is to be yourself. Everyone says that, and no one believes it. But it’s true. If you are yourself and don’t get the job, then it’s not the end of the world. You probably wouldn’t have liked working there anyway. Why? Because good recruiters want more than just skills and experience – they want someone whose personality will fit with their existing team.
Interview Techniques – Being Invited For An Interview
Your phone rings, and it’s the call you’ve been waiting for – you are being offered an interview slot! What should you do?
- Be enthusiastic. Playing it cool will not help your chances. Recruiters want someone who wants to work for them.
- Make certain you have the correct date, time and location of the interview. If you didn’t catch something, ask!
- Unless there is a good reason to end all good reasons, don’t say you can’t make the time offered. Recruiters will have more than you to see, and if they want the position filling fast, they may have a very small time frame to conduct the interviews. They are probably busy and don’t want to organise their day around your manicure!
- Remember to thank them before you hang up.
Interview Techniques – A Telephone Interview
Some companies will conduct a preliminary interview over the phone. Treat it with the same amount of seriousness you would with a face to face interview.
- When you are talking, sit up straight and smile. It might feel weird, but you will sound much more enthusiastic.
- Make sure you are in a room, alone, where you won’t be disturbed. Turn off any TVs, radios, computers, and any other phones. You don’t want any distractions.
- If you want to make some notes so you don’t forget anything, this is fine, but make sure they are printed out (you can hear someone typing/clicking around on a computer). Have them on one side of paper so the recruiter can’t hear pages rustling.
Interview Techniques – A Face-To-Face Interview
A face-to-face interview is a good way for recruiters to find out more about you and why they would want to hire you. It’s a two way street – it’s also a good way for you to get to know a bit more about the company/role and whether or not you would want to take it if it’s offered to you.
Before you arrive
- Choose an outfit that is professional, even if the company don’t specify this. Make sure it is clean and pressed and that you are comfortable in it. Ladies: No cleavage on show and skirts just above the knee or longer! Keep accessories to a minimum. Make sure your shoes are clean and unscuffed. Remember, the recruiter has formed an impression of you based on your appearance within about 20 seconds of you entering the room.
- Research the company. Have they just branched out into something new? Had their best financial year? Won some sort of award?
- Make sure you know your elevator pitch inside out and back to front (come back tomorrow for tips on how to create the perfect elevator pitch).
- Have a copy of your CV ready to take with you. Even if they haven’t requested it, some recruiters will ask for it on the day.
- Double check you know exactly where the interview location is, that you know how to get there, and that you know the journey time. Allow a little extra time, if you are late, you pretty much kiss the job goodbye.
- Try to arrive approximately ten minutes before the interview is due to start. As I mentioned above, being late is not an option. Being too early can also make things awkward, especially if it’s a small firm and they don’t have a lot of space to have people waiting around in.
- Before you enter the building, switch your phone off!
- Announce yourself to reception, or wherever you have been told to go. Be friendly, no one wants to employ someone who was rude to their receptionist!
- If you are asked to sit and wait somewhere, sit up straight and look alive. Resist the urge to glance down at your watch. Looking impatient will be seen as rude.
When You Are Called To The Interview Room
- Be aware that there may be more than one person conducting, or at least sitting in on, the interview. Try not to look too terrified. Smile at them!
- Greet each person with a firm handshake.
When You Are Seated
Confidence is often the key to landing a new role. Even if you are terrified, try to look and act confident. A bit of nervousness is forgivable, but try to keep in mind it’s an interview, not an interrogation.
Body language often speaks louder than your words. try to be mindful of the following:
- Sit up straight.
- Don’t cross your legs under the table – if you can’t resist doing this, cross them at the ankles, keeping your knees at a right angle. This will help you to not slouch.
- Don’t fidget. No playing with your hair, picking at your nails, or picking at imaginary fluff on your clothes.
- Don’t cross your arms, as this makes you look defensive.
- If you talk with your hands, a few hand gestures are fine but try not to overdo it, it will be seen as distracting.
When you are answering the questions, remember:
- It’s ok to pause and think about your answer. Don’t just blurt out whatever comes into your head.
- If you are being interviewed by more than one person, make eye contact with whoever is talking at any given time. Begin your answer still looking at that person, but don’t forget to look along at the other people too so they all feel included in your answers.
- Use your normal speaking volume. Don’t shout and don’t whisper.
Leaving The Interview
As you leave the room, remember to thank everyone present for their time, and again, a nice firm handshake for everyone present. Tell them you look forward to hearing from them. Smile.
Once you are out of the building, resist the urge to have a cigarette or get your mobile phone out until you are out of sight. It’s probably best to avoid cheering or bursting into tears (depending on how you think it went) until you are out of sight too!
After The Interview
If you know the recruiters email address, there is nothing wrong with sending them an email thanking them again for their time. It keeps you fresh in their mind and makes you look enthusiastic without being pushy.
Interview Techniques – The Dreaded Group Interview
I use the term dreaded group interview as I really hate this type of interview. I can see the benefit from the company’s point of view – it’s an excellent way to spot natural leaders, followers, creatives and people who are over whelmed. It can also be a good indicator of how well someone works as part of a team.
I personally hate them because it feels kind of forced, and there’s always that one person who thinks this is their stage!
A group interview is a balancing act. You need to find the line between being strong and having a voice which is heard, but not being so assertive that no one else can contribute. You also need to find a balance between not been seen as someone who holds back, and not going in half cocked and making a mess of something.
If you are a naturally confident leader, take charge. Lead the discussion but ensure everyone is getting a fair chance at inputting their ideas.
If you are not confident leading, you can still shine. Not trying to take charge if it’s not your thing shows self awareness which is important. Let someone else take charge, but make sure you are putting your ideas forward and voicing your opinions.
No matter how ridiculous a suggestion, don’t be negative. Say something like “Good idea, but have you considered trying…”.
A group interview is a good way to let your personality show and really show a recruiter what you are like under pressure. Make sure you stand out from the crowd for the right reasons.
I hope these tips on interview techniques have helped you. Check back tomorrow for tips on how to perfect your elevator pitch, and Friday for some likely interview questions and how to respond to them, plus some questions your recruiter is not allowed to ask you!
Do you have any tips to share on interview techniques? Let me know in the comments 🙂