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Interviews: How to sail through your interview...

Congratulations, because if you are reading this, chances are you have been invited to an interview, perhaps with an employer, a recruiter or with an education or training provider.


Whatever the occasion for your interview, sometimes, excitement can get the better of us. That's when nerves kick in, we forget our words, our voice becomes shaky, legs are trembling, believe me, we have all been there! However giving yourself time to prepare ahead of the big day, will make the process an enjoyable experience, yes, enjoyable, I promise...



Whether your interview is in person (yes these do still happen lol) or video interview here's my top tips to help you sail through your interview with flying colours...


1: Research the company / organisation


What do you know about us? Why do you want to work here? Are just a couple of the questions you may be asked which will highlight if you are the right fit for the company, not just for the employer, but for you too.


By reading the company's website, social media channels, checking out the companies' reviews (Glassdoor has reviews on hundreds of companies), their news stories (type company name into google, then hit news instead of all), and if you want even more brownie points, check out their competitors to show you have a firm understanding of the sector they are operating in.


What did you learn about he company values, culture, plans for the future? By understanding these key areas you will get a real understanding of the company / organisation and this will also help you plan what questions you will ask during your interview too.


2: Dress to impress


So, this doesn't mean brushing down your tux or popping on that slinky number you rocked last weekend. Did you know it it takes 100 milliseconds, or a tenth of a second, for someone to judge you, according to one of the world's leading universities.


Decide what first impression you want to make and plan your outfit accordingly. Do some research about the company’s dress code. Once you figure out what it is, choose an outfit to complement this, but with a professional edge. For example; if most employees wear business casual, go for business formal. Or if the vibe is very relaxed and casual, opt for business casual for the interview.


This shows you are taking the job seriously and see the meeting as a professional discussion, even if this is a video interview.


3: Understand the type of interview


Most employers want to set their interviewees up for success and will tell you in advance what to expect and the type of interview they will undertake. Whether this is a traditional interview in person, a telephone interview, via video, panel interview or an informal lunch meeting. Understanding the format too, is important for preparation. Do they want you to present something, prepare a business case, undertake an in-tray exercise or perhaps a working interview where you are observed on the job.


And if they don't offer this information, it's okay to ask the recruiter or HR contact about the interview format. Understanding what to expect will allow to your prepare in advance and feel more confident about the experience - not to mention, knowing how long you might be in case you need to pop some money in the parking machine!


4: Read up about your interviewers (without being creepy!)


Some people have mixed views about this, however I like to hear genuine questions that show you care about who you will be working with. Now there is a very fine line, between professional questions and just plain creepy, so keep to areas within their job role function, understand what that is and ask questions about their career. Or perhaps reading the interviewer's bio on the company website or LinkedIn will highlight some questions you might like to ask them.


Interviews should be impartial and show no commonality bias, however by doing a little research on your interviewer it's also an opportunity to showcase you share common values and culture fit too. And again, if they don't tell you who is interviewing, just ask.


5: Practice your Answers to Common Interview Questions


We are seeing a trend with some employers leading the way and sharing interview questions ahead of the interviews, which is amazing! However, it's not yet common practice. So, in order to prepare, I would encourage you to go over the job description and highlight those key areas they have indicated are essential to be successful in the post. Now, write a short story against each criteria to showcase "how" you do this. By using a model such as S.T.A.R. which will help you keep the story relevant and succinct and guide the interviewer along your story so they can understand how you operate.

So, what does S.T.A.R. stand for;

  • Situation: Briefly give a description of the scenario using just enough detail that the interviewer will understand the stakes and everything else in your answer.

  • Task: Talk about what your role in the situation was.

  • Action: Discuss what you did and why.

  • Result: Tell your interviewer about the outcome and what you learned.



By using the S.T.A.R. method it will ensure your stories always have a beginning, middle, and end. If you want some tools to help you prepare, there are paid platforms such as Interview Gold or for free video links just head to YouTube, and if your interview is through Recruitment Bee, I am more than happy to provide some coaching sessions ahead of your interview.


6: Getting there & Tech Testing


Seems an obvious one, but understanding how to get to your interview and on time, you may wish to consider where the best places to park are, reading traffic reports before heading out, are there any public transport strikes? Last thing you want is to feel rushed, and arrive late for the interview. So with a little prior planning you will easily reach your destination with ease in a calm and relaxed state.


And if that interview is on video, do test the link beforehand to ensure you can login ahead of the scheduled interview time. Check your space is suitable, blur your background or put an appropriate background image up. Check the lighting, I have a light facing me on my desk, so people can easily see me no matter the weather outside.


Print out copies of your CV and have all your ID and any other documentation you have been asked to take along to the interview, even on a video or telephone interview you may be asked to refer to your CV or show your ID. Some people prefer to have an interview prep sheet which highlights, what questions you wanted to ask, names and job titles of who you are meeting, some research you want to discuss, key achievements and why you want to work for the company.


7: Say thank you


It always amazes me how many people don't take the time to say thank you after the interview. Ensure you thank the interviewers at the end of the meeting, for taking the time to see you today and then follow up once you get home with an email to the interviewers or company afterwards. This simple gesture can help you stand out from your competition and further demonstrates your interest in the role and the organisation. It's only two little words, however the power can be mighty big!


Conclusion


If you keep these interview tips in mind while you prepare for the interview, you’re going to be in great shape when the big day comes. Taking some extra time to get things right will make the experience effortless for both you and the interviewer, and give you a greater chance of getting hired.

 


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