Research the Organisation
You need to know the company you’re seeking to work with so do your research beforehand, either directly or indirectly. Preparation demonstrates interest and keenness.
Research the Job
Be clear about the duties and responsibilities of the job you’re interviewing for. You should be able to match your competencies as closely as possible to the ideal candidate profile.
Relate your career goals to the job
One of the most effective ways of reassuring an interviewer is to clearly demonstrate how the job you’re interviewing for is an important step towards your own career goal aspirations. This demonstrates motivation.
Unique Selling Points
Prepare a list of seven or eight key attributes that you want the interviewer to remember about you after you’ve left the room. These are your selling points. They must be relevant. Include one or more of your personal strengths, skills, experience achievements, or obstacles that you’ve overcome. Include your qualifications and out-of-work interests and activities. This list represents your own personal agenda for the interview.
Review CV/Application Form
Don’t let your own CV surprise you. Don’t attend an interview without a copy or a copy of any form you’ve had to submit with the application. Bring a few extra copies too in case one of your interviewers has forgotten theirs: shows initiative.
Be totally familiar with the job description/specification. These documents are critical as they give you a lot of information about how the company regards the job and the prospective candidate. You need to see how you can best match yourself to this job specification.
Your main objective from the interview should be that the interviewer knows and understands your key selling points. It’s up to you to clearly relate them, not vice versa. Make them specific to the job on offer. If you’ve done this, you can do no more. You’ll have done a good interview.
The interview has already begun
Be aware that the interview begins the moment you come into contact with anyone from the prospecting company, and in any circumstance, socially or work-related. It does not commence when you enter the interview room. Be mindful that opinions about you can be formed or transmitted in any circumstantial contact with prospective future work colleagues or company representatives. They may form part of the interview panel or be forming and transmitting opinions about you, your character and behaviours, which may be used to influence or direct the interview. Be wary of how you present yourself while in job-seeking mode.
The old marketing adage: ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’ is particularly relevant to the first thirty seconds of any interview situation. You can destroy your chances – or at least spend the whole interview catching up – if you make a poor first impression. Whether we are aware of it or not, we all make quick judgements of people we meet for the first time, and generally within the first 15 seconds of the first encounter. These first impressions set up immediate feelings of warmth or antipathy in people. It’s prudent to be conscious of every aspect of that first communication – verbal and non-verbal.
Walk into the interview room positively and assertively. Shake the hand or hands of your interviewer(s); look them in the eye and use their names. When shown your seat, sit with a straight back, looking alert and interested. Folded arms, hands in front of the face, or head propped up by your hand all give inappropriate messages. All gestures should be closed: no pointed fingers or chopped hands. Try not to fiddle with pencils, ear lobes, chins or lock of hair. No finger drumming or brushing imaginary specks from jacket or trousers.
Eye contact is critical. As a rule of thumb, try to maintain eye contact for about two-thirds of any interaction with someone but don’t stare. We all know how difficult it is to assess someone who rarely looks at us. We share the same discomfort at being eyeballed almost constantly by someone who is talking with us. Strive for a happy medium.
Remember to smile during the interview session but don’t overdo it otherwise you’re in danger of seeming inane. Show that you are at ease. Leave the interview as positively as you arrived. Avoid the tendency to bow and scrape your way to the door, fearful of turning your back on the interviewer. Depart with the same assertive handshake as used on arrival. Smile and with a brief thank-you statement, exit elegantly. Avoid clumsiness.
Brevity and relevance count when answering questions at an interview. Two or three concise sentences are usually enough to answer most questions and is sufficiently brief to hold the interviewer’s interest and attention. If interviewers want more information, let then ask for it.
Don’t be negative
Be positive in your responses. Negative comments about other people or organisations will reflect negatively upon you. Be equally positive about yourself. Do not freely volunteer aspects of your life or experience that could show you in a negative light. Always try and put a positive spin on these elements. No matter how much you may want to right a glaring wrong, never argue with an interviewer. You will flag yourself as a potentially difficult future employee. If you don’t know the answer to a question, you have two options: you can either prove you don’t know, through waffle, or say you don’t know. It’s very important that you are frank and honest throughout the interview. If you’re not, you will certainly emit uncomfortable non-verbal signals that will be picked up consciously or unconsciously by the interviewer.