Job interviews can make even the most experienced people nervous and unsure of themselves. You’re meeting a group of new people (or hoping to impress current colleagues) and you want to present your best self, after all. From advance preparation to projecting positive body language, we offer some top tips on preparing for interviews so you can land the dream role that you deserve.
Do your research on the company
There’s little more off-putting to a potential employer than a candidate not taking the time to get to know their business. It comes across as rude, unorganised and unprofessional. Make sure you study their website, social media and any other available information such as press articles and really get under the skin of their brands. What are their flagship products or services? What sets them apart from their competitors? Who are the founders and key people? Are there any recent developments in the company? What are their mission and values? How do they sell their services?
It’s also a great idea to take a peek at the LinkedIn profiles of the people who will be interviewing you, or that you will be working with. Understanding their backgrounds will give valuable insights into personnel structure, skills and strengths and they’ll doubtless notice you’ve been looking and be impressed at your research skills.
Get a good understanding of the market
As above, a lack of understanding of, or interest in the sector could seriously damage your prospects. Research the company’s competitors, industry journals, social media feeds and any other resources you can get your hands on. Note how the sector has changed over the years, what challenges it is facing, what its strengths are and - importantly - be clear on why it appeals to you.
Make a great impression right from the start
Studies show that interviewers make up their mind about a candidate within the first five minutes so make sure you dazzle them from the get-go. A firm, but not too firm, handshake, the all-important eye contact, a sincere thank you for the invitation to meet and an appropriate amount of enthusiasm, particularly for the company should start you on a high note.
Be clear about why you want the job and why it is right for you
Sounds obvious, but when you’re under pressure it’s often the things that are highest on your ‘selling points’ list that drift to the bottom. If you have a number of reasons you want to mention but are worried you’ll forget them, try picking three key attributes or skills and go from there. The chances are once you start talking about them, the others will fall into place. If you’re really worried you’ll forget them, make a few subtle notes on the CV that you bring along (note - always bring your CV!) to prompt you, if you struggle.
Always reinforce your statements with an example of how you put the skill into practice in a recent role to give it credibility and colour. Mention specifics about the company that attracted you to it rather than the sector in general, and extend your aforementioned selling points to how they will benefit the company. Don’t be afraid to tell your story, if appropriate. Interviewers get a lot of stock responses and adding character and a touch of gentle humour could help you stick in their minds.
Display positive body language at all times
Your interviewing panel will understand that you’re nervous but try to maintain control over your body language throughout the interview. Sit up straight in a confident and open manner, lean forward slightly when you are spoken to, maintain good eye contact, and try not to fidget.
Have a clear idea of questions you want to ask
It’s a good idea to have three or four questions to ask at the end of the interview to show your commitment and interest. Don’t mention remuneration or holidays unless absolutely necessary and vary the questions to include queries about your role; how you will complement the team and wider business and something that encourages the interviewer(s) to talk about their own experience at the company - what they like most about working there, for example. Showing empathy, alongside interest is a great way of winning people over and showing you have emotional intelligence.
Even if you have covered absolutely everything you wanted to know about the role and the company in your interview, try to ask at least one question at the end. If you really have gone over every last detail then mention what your questions had been, summarise the answers given and thank the interviewer for being so thorough.
Prepare for any tricky questions
Whilst preparing, take a critical look at your CV and identify any instances which might raise alarms for your potential employer. Are there gaps or changes in career path that may require an explanation? If you suspect you might not be the most experienced or skilled person in contention prepare some short statements reinforcing your ambition to upskill or embrace the challenges of a more senior role. Again, use evidence to support this.
Businesses are increasingly looking to alternative methods for recruiting the right candidates including psychometric and emotional intelligence testing. Be prepared for both skill-based and personality-based questions - and be honest. There’s little point in pretending you are someone you aren’t. You’re looking for the right cultural fit too, after all.
Practice as much as possible
There’s a fine line here between sounding like you’re prepared and know your stuff and that you’re reading off a notepad. Ask a friend to workshop some scenarios with you and, if you’re brave enough, film it to see how you come across. People often don’t realise when they are speaking too quickly or not clearly enough - or perhaps you seem overly self-deprecating, insincere or lacking confidence. Getting feedback from friends or from your watching yourself will help iron out any issues with articulation and presentation and will also help you prepare for unforeseen scenarios.
Leave on a high
Interviewing panels generally convene straight after to discuss your performance and revisit your CV so try to end your interview with a positive statement about the company, your ambition to work there, an appropriate reinforcement about your suitability and a show of gratitude for them taking the time to see you.
We hope these tips on preparing for interviews have been useful. If you would like to find out more about how Bramwith could help you find the role you’ve been looking for contact us today.
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