Interview Tips and Techniques
Preparation is the key to success in any interview. Do some background research on the company, the role, and about the kind of issues that are likely to be discussed. Remember, most interviewers are looking to see if you have any interest in the company besides the job, just finding out about any policies they participate in like fair trade for example, will show that you have interest in the company.
Prepare a short response to the question “what do you know about us?” You should be able to use your background research to help show that you have taken the time to find out about the company.
Anticipate some likely interview questions
On the basis of your CV and the job description, you can probably anticipate many of the questions the interviewer is likely to ask. Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer. What will he or she be looking for?
Typical questions might include:
- Why do you want to work here and what interests you the most about this job?
- What qualifications or experience do you have that would make you a success in this company?
- What positions have you enjoyed most? The least? Why?
- What would you like to be doing five years from now?
- Describe a project that you are proud of?
- What’s your greatest strength/weakness?
- What interests you most about this position?
- What’s important to you in the work that you do?
You may be asked “What single project or task would you consider the most significant accomplishment in your career so far?”
This question has many follow up questions to try and pull out as much information about what you were able to accomplish compared to what you will need to accomplish in the job.
Before you answer this question, think about the possible questions to follow, and if your selected accomplishment can answer these questions.
What to take with you
You should take a copy of your CV, certificates and any references or referrals. Carry everything in just one file, bag or briefcase, this way you will prevent yourself from giving an impression of being disorganised, if you are seen carrying multiple loose sheets of paper.
Making a good ‘first impression’
Your appearance can influence the interviewer’s assessment of your suitability for the job. Being smart, clean and well groomed is a good start. But there are numerous other factors to take into account regarding personal dress and presentation.
Make sure you leave for the interview 15-20 minutes before you normally would, by leaving that early you will be able to avoid time loss due to slow public transport or traffic. Arriving 15 minutes before the interview, you will be able to calm yourself and gather your thoughts. It will also enable you to read any company literature available, and gain insights to the company to better prepare yourself. Also remember to be pleasant to receptionists and other staff you meet as they will often be asked for their impressions of you.
At the interview
Bear in mind that the interviewer may be just as nervous as you. Your objective is to impress the interviewer by projecting a professional image and demonstrating your suitability for the job.
Greet the interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake and wait until you are offered a chair before sitting.
Be aware of your body language as it can be up to 90% of what the interviewer is using to find out if you will be a good candidate for the role. Sit up straight, maintain eye contact and avoid fidgeting. According to research, the interviewer will decide within just four to nine minutes whether to consider you seriously for the job. So making a good first impression is vital.
Show a real interest in the job. Speak clearly and confidently and make sure that everything you say is factual and sincere. During the interview, bear the following guidelines in mind:
Concentrate and listen carefully to the questions. If you are not sure exactly what is being asked, don’t say “Could you repeat the question?” This could make the interviewer feel that you haven’t been paying attention. Rather, rephrase the key words and ask the interviewer to clarify: “Do you mean…”
- Avoid answering with a simple yes or no. Support your answer with relevant information from your experience and relate everything you say to the job you are applying for.
- Do not speak negatively of other people or companies you have worked for. It makes you look unprofessional.
- Stay calm. Maintain a positive attitude throughout the interview, speak with energy and enthusiasm, and feel free to pause when you are thinking of appropriate replies.
- Keep your answers relevant and to the point.
A good interviewer will do more than just establish your competence: he will explore your compatibility with the company – your attitudes, beliefs, personality, response to pressure and so on.
Do some research on the company prior to the interview, this will show the employer you have spent time preparing before the interview.
Usually the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions. The worst response is to say you have no questions. Be specific and ask questions that have not already been answered in the job description. For instance:
- Why has the job become available?
- What would my initial assignments here be?
- What are the greatest challenges of this role?
- Could you describe a typical day/week?
- What training and promotional opportunities are there?
- Who will I report to and will I get to meet them during the interview process?
If in the interview all of your questions have been answered, respond with something along the lines of “I was going to ask about XX and that you have already answered my question”. XX represents the question you were going to ask the interviewer.
At the very least, ask the interviewer when he will be making a final decision and whether he needs any further clarification about your experience.
Leaving the interview
Don’t let your guard down yet. You want the interviewer to remember you positively, so thank them for their time and consideration and tell them how much you enjoyed discussing the job with them.
It’s important to convey that you really are interested in working for the company, because – all other things being equal – the job is likely to go to the more interested candidate.
Tell the interviewer that you look forward to seeing him or her again, shake his hand and leave.