Top Interview Tips – an honest perspective from a hiring Manager
Across two decades of interviewing candidates for roles, I’ve seen some pretty interesting, and sometimes worrying, approaches to the way people approach the process.
In many respects, a job interview is the equivalent of going on a date for the very first time. Both parties have agreed that they like what is on offer, but it is only during a first, or sometimes second meeting that both the employer and the candidate really get a sense as to whether a long-term relationship lies ahead.
After all, you’ve probably been on a restaurant date in the past where things didn’t match expectations and one party ended up making the decision not to take things further. On the occasions where you feel that you’ve missed out on something great, you start to ask yourself what it was that you did or said that didn’t resonate with the person across the other side of the table.
So, what can we learn from this and how do you stack the odds in your favour?
Here are 7 great interview tips that can help increase your chances of securing a job that you’re really passionate about:
Be polite and affable
In short, be friendly, easy to talk to and someone who the hiring panel want to engage with. It starts with the very first communication you have after being invited for an interview and extends right the way through the process. It seems obvious that you must do this but unfortunately not everyone takes the same approach.
It won’t come as a surprise that the way we communicate is not just down to the words that come out of our mouth. Our body language is by the far the most important medium we communicate with face-to-face. If you come across as unengaged or sullen (even if that was not your intention), you might as well get your coat. Remember to smile and maintain eye contact with the interviewing team. Any bad habits you have (I did an interview with someone who spent the who time slouched across the table – they didn’t get invited back) should be addressed beforehand and you certainly should not give out any signals that could be perceived as negative or demonstrate a disinterest in the process.
Dress sharply, but not overboard
An easy win, right? You will be surprised how people get this wrong. If in doubt as to how you should approach it, err on the side of caution and be slightly more conservative. Whatever you choose to wear, make sure it is well pressed, clean and not looking in any way tired. You’d probably wear your smartest/newest clothes on a first date, so take the same approach to an interview.
Research, research, research
Once you’re invited to an interview, you need to spend some time finding out about the company. There is a huge amount of information in the public domain and don’t just focus on their website or Facebook account to gather your intel. If you can, reach out to employees who currently work there (LinkedIn is a great place to start) and ask them about any top tips they can give before they interview. You’ll be surprised how much people like talking about themselves when asked!
If you know who is going to be on the interview panel, do some research on them and see if there is some common ground between you. However, don’t be a suck-up, they will spot it a mile off.
Don’t worry about memorising answers to every single question you might be asked. Chances are that no matter how hard you try, they’ll have some questions that you never expected.
This is often a mistake made by others and you can gain an advantage by taking a more considered approach. Learn your CV inside out and write down all the skills, achievements and qualifications that you think match the job description. Then think about the ways you used those to help the company you were previously employed by. When asked questions such as ‘how does your experience as a junior manager make you suitable for this role’, you have a bank of knowledge stored in your head which you can recall and tailor to their question.
Always have questions to ask at the end
The interview is a two-way process. I know that seems really strange but honestly, it is. You need to know whether you want to work for them as much as they want to know if you are a good fit for the role.
Always have a good bank of questions (I think 5 is a good number) which you are ready to ask at the end of the interview. Out of those 5 questions, 2 are likely to have been covered during the interview, which leaves you with 3 questions ready to go. It’s good to ask for further details into the culture of the company, what learning and development opportunities there are, and what they feel are the most important achievements that the successful candidate needs to achieve in their first 6 months. The last question is a great one to ask if you want to leave telling the interview panel how you hit those achievement goals in your last role!
Being true to yourself is a great way of letting your personality, skills and qualities shine. You may think you need to behave or act like someone else, but it is unlikely to pay dividends in the long run. If you are concerned about how you come across in an interview, your focus should be on getting help from a trusted friend or a professional who can help point you in the right direction
If you are in the process of looking for your next job, take heart from the fact that as you’re already doing your research, you’re already on the path to improving your chances of success. Investing time in yourself now will make a real difference when it comes to an interview for your dream job.
If you would like to talk to someone about how to have the best chance of success throughout the application and interview process, please get in touch, we’d be happy to help. Visit https://winninginterviews.co.uk or drop us an email at [email protected]
About the author
Iain Beaumont founded Winning Interviews to help people excel when it comes to pitching themselves for a job. He has conducted over 200 job interviews and read over 1,000 CVs throughout his career, so know how to spot talent when it comes along. By passing on that experience and knowledge, Iain hopes to help others succeed where others fail.