For many of us, job interviews just don’t get easier, no matter how many times we go through the process. Working in recruitment and HR, I’ve seen my fair share of candidates who struggle in interviews because they’re apprehensive, poorly prepared, or even over-confident. On the other hand, I’ve observed what works for people who go on to win the job.
Make like a scout and be prepared
It’s perfectly normal to find interviews nerve racking and challenging, but there are things you can do before you even set foot in the interview room that will help position you as an outstanding candidate and give you the outcome you want: a job you love!
Research the company
This cannot be overstated. Set aside time to thoroughly research the company you are aiming to work for and make notes of things that you can ask questions about or mention in your interview. This shows your potential employer that you’re keen to work with them, and also that you’re diligent and motivated.
Match your skills to the job description
You’ve already done this in your written application, but it helps to go over it again before your interview so that it’s fresh in your mind. You want to be able to be able to show yourself in the best light, with concise, relevant answers that showcase your experience.
Demonstrating how you as a person reflect and endorse the company’s values is also important. If teamwork is central to their ethos, for instance, then tell them about the amazing teams you’ve been on in past roles.
Practice answering questions
Practise answering common questions out loud, either in the mirror or with a trusted friend, so that you get used to verbally articulating your ideas. This will be enormously helpful to you in the interview when your nerves kick in.
And remember: once you’re in your interview, really listen to each question! It can be easy to miss the point or lose direction halfway through your answer if you haven’t listened properly. Pause and absorb the question – and ask for it to be repeated or clarified if you’re unsure.
Choose your outfit
This may sound superficial, but it’s important for a few reasons. Firstly, how you’re dressed will make an immediate impression on the people interviewing you, so ensure that you look well-groomed and professional. Secondly, it helps to feel comfortable in what you’re wearing, so choose something that isn’t ill-fitting or itchy or hot, so that you aren’t distracted. And thirdly, picking out your clothes well ahead of time will minimise potential panic and indecision on the day!
Be on time
Actually, be early. Plan to arrive at least 10 minutes ahead of your interview, and consider a practice run to avoid being late. If you’re taking public transport, pre-plan an alternative route in case there are any delays.
Arriving early shows that you’re punctual (obviously!) and also gives you time to pop to the bathroom and check yourself in the mirror if necessary; observe workplace dynamics while you’re waiting; and calm down and focus on what’s ahead.
Take some deep breaths
It’s easy for nerves to get the better of you but remind yourself that you’ve come this far and you’ve prepared – all that’s left to do now is listen and do your best.
At the end of the day, people want to work with people they like. So, be likeable: smile, present yourself with confidence, and focus on building a rapport with your interviewer, not just impressing them with your skills.