How to Succeed at Job Interviews
How to succeed at job interviews
Job interviews can be stressful, nerve-racking and difficult so it is important to carry out appropriate preparation.
Everybody experiences some level of nervousness at job interviews, and the interview panel will be aware of this.
Performance and preparation have long been the key to successful interview techniques. Ian Housley, Chair of the IEMA, explains why prospective employees should invest their time in planning:
"Once one reaches a certain point in one’s career it becomes necessary to conduct more job interviews than attend them. However, based on several years of experience of both, I’ve built up a sound understanding of what employers are looking for from the successful candidate."
"My main gripe would have to be at the base of it, with the universities for not preparing new graduates for interviews and entering the real world of work. However, as the first of this newly formed column is aimed at helping graduates and other job seekers to get the best out of the interview process, that will be the focus of my advice."
The initial stages
- make sure the Curriculum Vitae (CV) is clear, relevant and uncluttered;
- never send a generic CV out for a number of jobs – always adjust it to suit the role being applied for, even if this is time consuming;
- order the CV logically with the most recent experience first; and
- use a sensible sized font and keep the additional information relevant and timely – potential employers don’t need to know about swimming badges!
Before the interview
Once an interview is secured, preparation is crucial. Take some time to conduct some research into the company using the internet, company literature, local knowledge, press cuttings etc. Below are some of the areas to investigate:
- the company size, age, geographical location, what the company does and how that will relate to the job being applied for;
- pay close attention to the instructions for the interview – if asked to prepare a ten minute presentation on a given topic make sure it is done in the given timeframe;
- ensure the job is the right one – it is a waste of everyone’s time to apply simply to gain interview experience – the last thing anyone wants is bad a experience!;
- try to anticipate some of the questions that might be asked and prepare answers for them; and
- an individual should think about what their strengths are and explain how they could benefit the organisation.
During the interview
During an interview, and individual should:
- dress appropriately and be presentable;
- aim to be one hour early rather than one minute late;
- sit upright, pay attention and portray positive body language;
- if the answer to a question is not know, say so and don’t waffle;
- prepare sensible questions to ask and don’t ask them simply for the sake of it;
- use every opportunity to talk about key strengths - don’t leave the room thinking ‘if only they’d asked me...’; and
- at the end of the interview, thank the panel for the opportunity and their time – manners maketh the man (and woman)!
Finally, speak clearly and smile every now and then. Every interview panel understands that interviews are a nerve-wracking process – they will be nervous too! The panel is under a lot of pressure to find the right person for the job so the easier the interview is, the more favourably they will look on an application.