How do you come across at interview? If you haven’t yet secured the job of your dreams, the chances are that your interview technique could use a little work. Some elements of your interview will be specific to the industry you work within, but many factors are common to interviews in all sectors. Knowing how to prepare yourself and make the most of the opportunity can make all the difference.
Here at CareerWise, we work hard to ensure that our clients know exactly what to expect at interview and are equipped to excel every time. Read on for our guide to maximising your chances of success at interview with some simple tips.
An interview can feel overwhelming, but it’s really a great opportunity to present yourself and demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the job in question. If you believe this role is ideal for you, this is your chance to prove it! And here’s how:
The number one rule if you want to impress at interview is to know your stuff. You should take the opportunity to learn everything you can about the company you are interviewing with, and familiarise yourself with their ethos and impartial reviews by others. Think about how your methods and goals align with those of the company, and show how well you will fit in there. Research also applies to the people who will be interviewing you, and if you can find out what they do within the company you will be able to tailor your presentation to include aspects that are of specific interest to them.
It’s not hard to find lists of common interview questions, and you can reasonably assume that at least some of these will come up for you. Take the chance to think about your responses and consider the best examples from your previous roles to demonstrate the skills and experience that the interviewers will be looking for. You don’t need to rehearse word-perfect answers for common questions you may be asked, and it won’t look natural or spontaneous if you do, but having a general idea of the examples you may discuss will be very useful and save you succumbing to stress when you are under pressure.
Being specific and keeping your responses relevant to the job you are interviewing for is very important, so it is vital to have the key facts and figures you need at hand. If you are trying to show that you have added value to your last department, but you cannot remember the percentage increase in output that you need to demonstrate this, these will be empty words. Refer to instances in which you have influenced the outcome of a project or job, and explain how this has helped you to develop the skills you will need for the role you want.
Although you don’t want to be learning responses by rote, you should take every opportunity to practise your interview technique with a trusted friend or family member. Give them a list of common interview questions to ask you, and request constructive feedback on the way in which you respond. If you have to give a presentation as part of the interview, this should be slick and well prepared. Don’t miss the chance to prepare for this, and use honest, constructive comments to help you to hone your performance and make your presentation as effective as possible. You can also practise in the mirror, especially if you do not feel confident about speaking in public, and work on your posture and presentation.
Don’t risk missing the chance to stand out from the crowd: if you get the opportunity to ask questions of your interviewers, have some prepared that will be useful and memorable. Anything that demonstrates your high level of research and understanding about the company, or your exceptional interpersonal skills, will be a positive in the eyes of your interviewers and will give them a good reason to remember you when they begin the selection process.
Whether your potential employer has a strict dress code or a casual approach, you should present yourself as professionally as you can to make a good first impression. Check that your clothes are clean and tidy, and don’t forget to file your nails and polish your shoes. Looking your best will help you to feel more confident, so take the time to prepare in advance. Take emergency plasters, a comb and some mints with you, just in case you need them at the last minute!
Ensure that everything you need for your interview is close at hand, and take a file or bag that makes any information you require more accessible. Don’t think that a crumpled CV or a bag filled with clutter will go unnoticed, as it could undo your hard work and suggest that you are not the reliable and efficient professional your interviewer is looking for.
It’s very important not to rush into an interview when you are ill prepared, so give yourself time to get into the right head space before you begin. Think hard before you answer each question, and if you are concerned that long pauses make you look unprofessional, perfect the art of repeating the question before you answer, or using an introductory phrase such as, ‘That question is really interesting. I think I would say that…’
When you have an interview to attend in the morning, it can be tempting to stay up all night preparing. This won’t give you the best chance of success, however, and you should concentrate on preparing yourself to give the best performance possible. Try to eat your dinner before 8pm the night before an interview and take one last look over your notes. Then take some time to relax and unwind, and get an early night to give you the very best chance of success the following day.
The most important thing to remember when you are seeking a new job is that you do not have to do it all on your own. Here at CareerWise, we spend time getting to know our clients and can help you to perfect your interview technique so that you have the best possible chance of beating the competition to the top spot.
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CareerWise is Ireland’s leading specialist Technical and Executive Recruitment firm, and our team can help you to find the best positions in the Medical Device, Sciences/Pharma and ICT industries.
Joe Robbins is co-founder of CareerWise Recruitment. A graduate of the University of Limerick (Degree in Business Studies, 1985), Joe worked in the UK for five years where he specialised in materials management, production management and plant management for a number of companies.
He returned to Ireland in 1992 to become Operations Manager for a Cork-based start-up, FMC Automotive Division which was subsequently taken over by Snap-on Equipment. Joe managed the business re-location of this company to Shannon in 1997 before setting up CareerWise Recruitment in 1999.
He is a committee member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Mid-West region, and a former Director and Vice President of the Shannon Chamber of Commerce. Joe is former Chairperson of the Sixmilebridge Camogie Club and current Chairperson of the Clare County Camogie Board.
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