You get the call for an interview and jump for joy, but then your nerves take over and you start to fret over every possible aspect of the new role. Are you qualified for the role? Will your experience be enough? What if you mumble your way through the interview?
Yes, we’ve all been there.
Even though the recruiter you spoke with is highly unlikely to have chosen you if you’re underqualified, that doesn’t stop you from thinking all those negative thoughts.
That’s why we recommend taking the time to hone your interview skills through proven techniques. These techniques will not only help you present yourself in the best possible light during an interview but will also help to boost your confidence overall.
So let’s get to it.
Do your homework first
No matter what role you are applying for, it always pays to do your research first.
You’ll want to learn all that you can about your potential employer and not just the role you’re up for. Check their background, how the business was founded, and who the main players are within the company hierarchy.
You might also want to check out any recent wins they have had in the industry and any future plans that they have already gone public with.
While this isn’t necessarily an interview practice tip, making yourself familiar with the company and even the department that you could be joining will make you feel more at ease about the whole process. It will also help you answer the inevitable question ‘so what do you know about the company?’
And on the subject of questions...
Practice answering general questions
You know the sort we mean. The chit chat that interviewers use to get you feeling comfortable at the start of the interview.
Now, it might feel a little silly to practice answering mundane questions, but doing so can calm those nerves and help you relax as you prepare for the interview. If you can, ask a friend or family member to help you out here and play the role of the interviewer. But don’t give them a script. Let them surprise you with general questions of their own.
Believe it or not, making you feel at ease isn’t the only benefit of this chit chat. Research has shown that interviewers who build up a quick rapport with candidates through small talk can have a better overall perception of the candidate.
So practicing that small talk doesn’t seem so silly after all, does it?
Practice answering specific questions
Okay, so it might be quite difficult to nail down exactly what the interviewer is going to ask you as they may throw you the odd curveball. That said, you should be able to take a rough guess at what work-related questions they may ask.
Think about your skills, your experience, your qualifications, and any major projects you have worked on. Write all of these down and then try to think about 3-5 questions for each one.
Once you have those questions, it’s time to start thinking about your answers. While you’ll want to answer to the best of your ability each and every time, it’s important that you don’t script your answers and learn them off by heart. Your interviewer wants to get to know you and if you start rhyming off a scripted answer, you won’t be able to show them your individuality.
The reason you are practicing answering these questions is so that you can have a rough idea of the most important points to cover during your interview. Believe us, there’s nothing worse than replaying an interview in your mind and realising you left out some crucial aspect of your experience when answering a question.
Think about your weakness
It’s the most common question asked by interviewers all over the world, but it still throws us each time we hear it — what’s your biggest weakness?
Although it may be tempting to say that you work too hard or that you spend too much time in the office, these are not weaknesses at all and an interviewer will see right through them
So be prepared for this by thinking about an aspect of your professional life that you are genuinely struggling with. However, you’ll also want to show the interviewer what you’re currently doing to rectify the situation. For example, if you struggle with a certain aspect of your skill set, you could be taking an online class or going to night school to catch up.
Just remember that admitting that you struggle with something doesn’t mean that you’re not suitable for the role once it’s not necessarily integral to the job. In fact, being upfront about your shortcomings and showing an initiative to address them can be seen in quite a positive light.
Rehearse your interview
You will certainly need to enlist the help of a friend for this one. You’ll want to give them some rough guidelines for interview questions, but it’s important that you don’t ask them to read directly from a script because your interviewer certainly won’t be reading from the same one.
Try and treat the rehearsal just as you would a genuine interview. That means dressing accordingly and creating an interview-like environment. And ask your friend to take notes and give you some constructive feedback after the interview.
Of course, you’ll need to think carefully about who you ask to help you out here as it would be hugely beneficial if they had actual interviewing experience or have worked in leadership roles.
If this isn’t possible, then you might want to set up a mock interview with a career guidance counsellor or a career coach. This might sound like an expensive undertaking, but local authorities usually offer these kinds of services for free to job seekers who are currently out of work.
There are also quite a few private agencies that offer similar services at a set rate. If you’re serious about improving your interviewing skills, then this could be a wise investment. Not only will you get real practice with an experienced interviewer but they will also give you precise feedback on a variety of aspects of the interview.
And there you have it — 5 tips that will certainly help you boost your chances at an interview. We’d advise you to pay particular attention to the tip on specific questions. Like we said, you don’t want to leave out some important aspect of your experience that could be just what the interviewer is looking for.
Remember that if you’re looking for a new challenge, we’d be more than happy to help. Go ahead and get in touch — we’ll be only too happy to give you some tips and advice on acing your next interview.