You spent hours trawling through job listings, drafted and re-drafted the perfect application, and crossed all your fingers and toes as you clicked ‘send’. And now, the invitation you’ve been waiting for has landed in your inbox. You have an interview. Whether you’re entering the workplace for the first time following graduation, or going for a new challenge after years of experience, reminding yourself or those all-important interview preparation tips is essential.
First impressions count
It’s an old cliché, but this couldn’t be truer when it comes to interviews. Before the big day, research the company’s culture to find clues as to how you should dress. If in doubt, it’s better to be slightly too formal than to go in looking scruffy. If it’s a hot day, take a moment to cool down and freshen up before you step inside. When you’re called through, think about your nonverbal communication. Stand up straight, make eye contact, and connect with a firm handshake and warm smile.
Actively listen and answer the right questions!
In a stressful situation it’s very easy to start second-guessing your interviewer. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself jumping in to answer questions you haven’t even been asked! Active listening involves listening carefully to everything your interviewer says – concentrate on listening rather than formulating your answer before the interviewer has finished asking. It’s an all too common error for interviewees to jump in with an answer that doesn’t directly relate to what is being asked. Listen, think, clarify if you need to, and then answer. Be specific and use examples from your own experience.
Know the difference between talk and chat!
Even the friendliest of interviewers is there for only one reason – business. Careful and thorough preparation will help you to avoid falling into the trap of turning your answers into chit-chat. Poor preparation will have you flustered and talking for the sake of filling a silence. It’s important to come across as energetic, enthusiastic and easy to get along with, but take care not to overstep the mark by being too familiar with your interviewer. It goes without saying that you should never bad-mouth previous employers or colleagues, and steer clear of conversations that might stir emotions, such as religion or politics.
Get the confidence balance right
Of course, you want to show your interviewer that you’re confident in your abilities, skills and experience. But take care not to come across as arrogant. There are always new things to learn when you take on a new role or join a new company, so showing a little humility and an eagerness to learn will help you to strike a balance between confidence, professionalism and modesty.
Prepare your own questions
When an interviewer asks if you have any questions, he/she isn’t just being polite! Responding with ‘no’ can put a real dampener on the end of an otherwise good interview. Prepare some questions before the interview; make sure you have more than you think you’ll need – chances are many of them will be answered during the course of the interview, before you have the opportunity to ask. As well as your pre-prepped questions, try to ask at least one that is based on something you discussed during the interview.
Don’t take it too personally if you don’t get the job. If you have the chance, ask for some feedback so you can learn from your experience. Keep trying, and one day you will land that dream job!
If you’d like to learn about improving your communication skills, talk to us.