As we leave winter behind and spring surfaces, anyone ready to move on from a role that they have outgrown, may now need to start interviewing for a new role to challenge them. If so, the following top 10 tips for interviews should help.
1. Research and prepare well
Do your research about the organisation. Look up the company’s website and learn about what it does and what its goals are. Identify its vision, values and mission if it has them. Check out any people that you’ve been told you are going to meet. Linkedin is very useful for this.
2. Create the best possible ‘First impressions’
First impressions always count – research indicates that approximately 92% of a judgment about a person is made within the first minute and a half of meeting them for the first time. It has also been estimated that it takes on average 21 subsequent meetings to overcome a poor first impression and if you’re unsuccessful in this interview, you won’t get another chance.
- In order to give your potential new company the best impression of you, arrive early, having allowed for contingencies.
- Wear what you are comfortable in but also be smart. Contrary to most other people’s advice, always over-dress against the dress code of the organisation you are looking to join. It is an interview and employers want to see you at your best.
- On first meeting people, smile, give a firm handshake and establish eye contact
3. Smile! Relax…
Be confident. Remember, it is possible that the interview panel may also be nervous. As much as they will want to put you at your ease, you can also help them relax. Interviews are not meant to be confrontational and both parties are at a neutral point waiting to see whether there’s a fit and a possible win-win opportunity.
4. Engage with all those interviewing you
Address your points to all members who may be interviewing you, rather than focus on the panel member who has asked the question you are answering. Establish and maintain eye contact with each member of the interview panel. Smile. Engage all members. Be honest. Never lie, as it’s so very easy to get caught out.
5. Match mission, purpose and skills
If you’ve identified the organisation’s purpose or mission, be prepared to talk about why it is important to you. If it isn’t important to you – you shouldn’t be in that interview! Make sure you mention the skills and strengths that they’re looking for (having read the job description carefully) and explain how your personal qualities match with the company’s needs.
6. Be aware of your body language.
Sit up and lean forward a little. If you want to convey that you’re enthusiastic, positive and energetic, don’t slouch in the chair looking demoralised even if you think the interview isn’t going according to plan!
7. Be positive about your accomplishments
Be positive about yourself and your achievements, the position you’re going for and highlight all your experience. There are probably many people going for the job with similar work experience and qualifications to you, so identify your personal accomplishments. Where possible, give real examples of ‘how’ you have achieved a positive outcome, specify what these were and the benefits. Be clear about what was your personal contribution. Use ‘I’ rather than ‘we’.
8. Emphasise your talents
Highlight the talents and capabilities that are natural to you, such as being a strong communicator, persistent and hard-working, detail or people oriented. Let your interviewer know. If you’re not sure what your strengths and talents are, take the Talent Dynamics profile test. Email us to take the test firstname.lastname@example.org
9. Listen and ask questions
Listen carefully to what they say and wait until they have finished, before formulating your answer and then speak. Ask questions to clarify anything you’re unsure of, but also to demonstrate your enquiring mind and that you are genuinely interested in the job.
10. Give real examples and use stories.
Be ready to talk about your experience, achievements and qualifications. Don’t assume that those interviewing you know the detail of what is on your application form or CV. Do not assume they know what your previous experience has entailed. (For example, if you have had line management experience, how many staff did you manage? How did you appraise them? How did you set performance targets? How did you promote their professional development?) Go into detail. Think of several examples of times when you accomplished something important. Be specific about what the task was, how you went about it, any problems you faced and what skills or strengths you used to succeed.