It is very typical for many of us, especially those who are more introverted, to feel uncomfortable or challenged in various settings and circumstances, especially in interviews.
There is no doubt that knowing you have done your “homework” goes in some way to easing your nerves and improving your self-confidence.
Following are some practical tips to ensure that you put your best foot forward!
Research on the Organisation – Many interviews often start with the question “What do you know about us?” so if you can’t answer that very well then you may as well walk out then and there so ensure you research the basics such as, What are the organisation’s main products / services? How big is the company? How old is the company? What are their values? Who are their main competitors? etc
Prepare Answers to Key Questions – there are many resources available to assist with the typical questions you may encounter. Try online or via the assistance of an outplacement provider.
In particular, ensure you practice answers to behavioural questions as they are very common.
Using the SAO (situation-action-outcome) or STAR (situation-task-action-result) techniques are effective in ensuring that you don’t “waffle” or have those uncomfortable silences. Make sure you have some clear and specific practical examples as to how you have previously displayed some of the personal capabilities they are seeking in their position description.
Checking in with previous colleagues regarding some of these examples can be effective as well.
Have Some Questions for End of Interview – make sure you have 3-4 good questions “up your sleeve” that you can ask the interviewers at conclusion of interview. The last impression is vital and some well-crafted questions that are about the organization as well as the actual role go a long way in showing that you are genuinely interested in the opportunity. They can also assist in developing rapport with the interviewers.
Feel free to take a professional looking folder to the interview that includes a copy of the Position Description, your resume and some dot points or notes of key things you want to convey during the interview.
Notes could simply be cue words regarding your capabilities or questions for the interviewers at the end of interview as just discussed.
Obviously avoid reading out prepared answers to questions but interviewers shouldn’t have an issue if you look down every now and then to ensure you cover all your important points.
Interviews are not necessarily memory tests – they are about identifying who is the best person for the job.
Having a folder with some notes just shows that you are prepared, thorough and detailed. These traits could actually be important personal capabilities for the role so having your folder and notes in front of you provides a visual example that you have these capabilities!
Familiarise Yourself with the Interviewers
One of the more daunting aspects of interviews is that you are going to be “interrogated” by 1-4 people who you are not overly familiar with.
This is where LinkedIn can come in handy – ideally, you have been provided with the names of the people who will be on the interview panel so look up these people on LinkedIn.
If they have a LinkedIn profile, then you will see their photo and get an understanding of their background.
This will give you the feeling of knowing them to a small extent even though you won’t physically meet until interview day.
They will more than likely see that you have looked at their profile but once again this is just showing them that you are thorough with your preparation.
Avoid connecting with them prior to the interview however as this may come across as a bit to presumptuous!
Plan Your Travel
Very important that you plan your travel route to the interview location, especially if utilizing public transport.
Give yourself plenty of time to get there – if you are too early then maybe you can find a nearby café to have a coffee and relax.
Don’t get to the interview reception area more than 10 or so minutes before scheduled time as too much time waiting may heighten your nerves.
Dress for Success
Make sure that your clothing fits you well and that you are comfortable. Also ensure that what you wear is suitable for the environment, eg a suit and tie would probable not be necessary for an industrial or blue collar interview – check this out prior if need be!
The Night Before
Ideally all of this preparation has not been left to the night before!
You may need to look over some of your key notes and rehearse some of your answers one last time but above all else, ensure a good night’s sleep and be ready to attack the next day with positivity and enthusiasm.
Paul Bell, Principal Consultant - Hender Careers