Make the Most of Interviews
Interviews give both you and an organisation a chance to discover your suitability for their vacancy. For employers they can find out more about your skills, experience, personality and drivers, in addition to giving them an opportunity to compare each applicant and their responses to a similar set of questions. This is the time when you can find out more detail on the role, the people you will be working with and the culture of the organisation too.
Most importantly, an interview is the time to really sell yourself and convince the interviewer you are the person they are looking for. To give the most positive impression you can:
- Prepare well, find out all you can about the organisation – and bring that new found knowledge into your interview answers if and when it is relevant and appropriate.
- Check the format of the interview and find out who’ll be interviewing you
- Prepare your answers to some standard interview questions, such as:
- Why do you want this job?
- Where does it fit in with your career plans?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What’s been your most significant success at work?
- What is the biggest mistake you ever made?
- What is the greatest challenge you have ever faced?
- How do you cope with difficult colleagues?
- What do you do outside of work?
- What’s your current salary?
- Why have you changed jobs frequently?
- Make sure you have some well thought out questions ready for your interviewer, perhaps based on your knowledge of the organisation. And remember to ask what the next steps in the process are and why you can expect to hear back.
- Plan how you are going to get to the company and allow plenty of time, check traffic/transport reports to avoid any delays.
- Take a copy of your CV with you
- Research shows that people form an impression of you in the first 3-4 minutes of meeting. In an interview situation remember that what you say contributes to less than 10% of the overall impression your interviewer will gain during your meeting!
- Dress smart, keep it plain and simple.
- Walk with purpose and shake hands firmly – both give the impression of confidence.
- Be positive and confident, speak clearly and assertively. Take a breath if you feel you are speaking too quickly.
- Maintain eye contact with your interviewer, especially when you’re being asked and answering questions.
- Look attentive by sitting up straight.
- Smile when appropriate – it helps you relax and appear approachable.
- Remember to switch off your mobile phone beforehand
Types of interview to expect
Telephone or Initial interview: Some organisations use these to decide which applicants to invite for an initial interview, or to quickly assess interpersonal skills and background. An alternative is an initial interview that may be quite short, 30 minutes or so usually one on one.
Formal interview: This is the most common type and will be structured so that each applicant is evaluated against the same criteria. This more formal interview may be held with more than one person representing the organisation, for example an HR representative with your prospective line manager and/or colleagues too.
Group interview: A group meeting where the company can present the business and highlight the benefits of working for it to a number of applicants at the same time. You should be able to ask questions and may have an opportunity for one to one discussion, but bear in mind that you will be assessed during this process. This type of interview is followed by a more formal one at a later date.
Panel or board interview: Some organisations will interview with a panel or board of people present, a very formal situation. Don’t be intimidated – answer each question directly to the person who posed it.
Assessment centre: Larger companies use these, often if they are recruiting for a range of roles – perhaps for a new department or team. They normally consist of a presentation by the company and then a series of exercises for the applicants, such as prepared and unprepared presentations, group tests, role plays, informal or formal interviews and psychometric tests.