What happens in an interview?
An interviewer's job is to test you to see if you are a good fit for their company. You will be critiqued, assessed and evaluated. It’s imperative to make sure you show them what makes you a strong candidate.
After a candidate exits the interview, they give the recruitment agency feedback. While we always hope for exceptional feedback, sometimes the news is not always good. Sometimes the candidate has said or done something that makes them question keeping this person in the running.
We have compiled a list of helpful interview tips and tricks to help you leave a lasting impression on the interviewers (in a good way).
Tips for Before the Interview
Research the Company & Role
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
You are certain to be asked specific questions about the company. Therefore, you need to do your homework before the interview. Research things like latest product launches or any noteworthy news stories. It would also be a good idea to look at the latest developments in the industry so you can converse with confidence. In general, just find out more. You can use resources like search engines to find out information about the investors/partners of the company or charities they may sponsor. Websites like Glassdoor can also be useful.
Practice Answers to Common Interview Questions
Practice makes perfect.
Although there is no set format every job interview follows, there are some questions you can almost guarantee will crop up. You should prepare your answers to some of the most common interview questions. These questions could include information about your personal strengths and weaknesses, as well as being able to explain why you would be the best person for the job. Expect questions about work experience, stressful moments, difficult decisions, where you see yourself in years to come etc.
You could even practice with friend or family member, but don’t become to rehearsed! Select key competency questions and note down your skills to match the job’s requirements e.g. leadership, teamwork problem-solving, conflict resolution. You don’t want to sound like you’ve pre-written a speech.
Plan What to Wear
Appearances shouldn't matter. But the plain fact is you are often judged before you've even uttered a word. Always ensure you dress professionally to a job interview. Make sure your shoes are polished, your clothes fit correctly and that your accessories are subtle. For a great first impression, follow their workplace dress code. Remember, dressing one level above the job you're applying for shows a desire to succeed.
Be Punctual, NOT Super Early
Everybody knows you're an idiot if you show up late for a job interview. It’s disrespectful to the interviewer. It doesn’t show you are dedicated to the job. It certainly doesn’t make them want to hire you.
Rushing into an interview can reflect negatively. If you know you are going to be late to the interview, call the business to advise them of the situation. Sometimes there is nothing you can do so letting them know will lessen the impact.
However, showing up early to an interview can also make you look bad. When you arrive more than five or ten minutes before your scheduled time, you put pressure on the interviewer. They must stop whatever they may be doing to meet with you. Or they may have to leave you waiting and will feeling guilty when interviewing you.
If you arrive early, relax in the car park or a nearby coffee shop until just a few minutes before your scheduled time.
Good preparation is the key to staying calm and collected. Here are a few key tips to remember:
- Plan your route and allow extra time for any unexpected delays
- Get everything you need to take with you ready the night before
- Stop at a restroom to wash your hands and have a mint to freshen your breath
- Remember to speak clearly and smile!
- Your interviewers are just normal people and they may be nervous too!
Tips for During the Interview
Be Authentic, NOT Robotic
As stated above, it’s important to practise your answers. However, remember that it is also possible to appear over-prepared. Although it’s good to know what you are going to answer to common interview questions, you don’t want it to sound too rehearsed. By learning an answer word for word, you put yourself at risk at sounding robotic or disinterested. Instead, note down some bullet points to establish a general answer. When you practise (either on your own or with a friend) don’t go over and over it until you’ve got it memorised. As long as you prepare enough to remember what you should include in your answer, you’re good to go.
Keep Answers Relevant & Concise
No matter what company you are interviewing for, it is essential you keep your answers relevant. The business may be a fun, casual organisation and the interviewer may try to engage you in friendly chit chat but try not to turn the conversation unprofessional. Avoid personal topics or giving too much information.
Be friendly and conversational because you want them to feel you are the right for the company. But don’t cross the TMI line. When in doubt, leave it out.
Be Interested, but NOT about benefits
An interview is a meeting where the interviewers ask questions to find out what you can do for them. What can you do to make that company money? What can you do to improve businesses processes? Can you help to grow the organization? Can you make their lives easier?
An interview is also a meeting where the interviewee can ask questions to find out what the company can do for them. You don’t want to immediately ask questions about ‘what’s in it for me?’ because you’ll looks arrogant and unappealing. However, we all know everyone wants to know what the benefits are e.g. how many holiday days you get, company car benefits or bonuses.
In the early interview stages try not to bring up salary or delve too deep into benefit packages. Show your willingness to learn and develop with the company first. If the interviewer brings up these expectations feel free to answer honestly.
You should always ask some questions to your interviewer to demonstrate your interest in the position. Prepare a minimum of five questions so you aren’t off guard. Thin of questions that will give you more information about the job. Also include a question that delves deeper into the culture and goals of the company. Examples include:
- What are some of the challenges facing the company?
- Where do you see the company in five to ten years?
- What does success mean to you and to the company?
- What have previous employees in this position gone on to do?
- I believe I’m a great fit for this company. Is there anything else I can do to dispel any doubts?
Tips for After the Interview
Before leaving the interview, make sure to genuinely thank the interviewer for their time. You may have only spent 30 minutes with them, or it may have been a couple of hours, but an enthusiastic thank you can show you are still focused even after the stress of an interview.
It is also a good idea to drop an after-interview thank you email as well. A simple "Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me — it was great to meet you" will go a long way.
Learn more about How to Impress at Interview.
Top 10 Interview Tips & Tricks
Interviewing can be one of the most stressful things we do as adults. By following these tips, you can ensure you are fully prepared for a common interview situation.
- Research the Company & Role
- Practice Answers to Common Interview Questions
- Plan What to Wear
- Be Punctual, NOT Super Early
- Be Authentic, NOT Robotic
- Keep Answers Relevant & Concise
- Be Interested, but NOT about benefits
- Ask Questions
- Thank Them