Interviews are pretty nerve-wracking. They almost feel like exams sometimes, and naturally you’ll want to do your absolute best. Follow Career Camel’s top tips for succeeding at interviews.
Have a read of the typical interview questions you might be asked (coming in two pages time). Once you’ve got the basics ironed out, make sure you take care of the other essentials. So read through the job description and person specification, and pick out your experiences which match the skills they’re looking for and write down a list of the things that match. Get someone to give you a mock interview so you can practise using these examples in your answers.
Next thing: do your research. First of all find out the format of your interview if you haven’t been told in the invitation, just so you know what to expect. Then start researching the company intensively. Make sure you find out about their past, present and future – look at their website and strategic plans, and search for news stories about what they’ve got coming up. After all, if you’re to take a part in their future, you have to take an interest in it! See if you can find a connection who works there or who has worked there before, to get the perspective of an insider.
You also should check out Interview Bull who can really help you prepare for your interview. They can provide you with an interview question bank, which is a database of recent interview questions asked by some of the biggest companies in the world, and they further provide interview coaching sessions with a graduate recruiter at an affordable cost. All coaches have experience of working for major blue-chip companies, you can practise in a simulated interview environment (and on Skype, so it’s at your convenience), and you’ll receive verbal feedback and CV advice.
Before the interview
Get your interview outfit sorted – get a haircut, iron your shirt and if you’re a guy, be clean-shaven. This will give you a more professional image and could even boost your chances of being given the job. Then work out where the interview actually is, and organise your timings and transport. If you’re concerned about getting there on time, you can always go extra early and grab a coffee nearby. Have a portfolio case with you which contains a copy of the job description, person specification, your CV and cover letter, and read them through before you head in. Remember that your interview technically begins as soon as you step through the door too, so be kind to the receptionist and for goodness’ sake don’t sit around and pick your nose.
During the interview
Never forget that as well as the company interviewing you for the position, you are also interviewing them to see if you would like to work for them. You can always turn down a position if it is offered to you! When you’re asked questions, don’t be scared to sit and think about it before answering, as your answers will likely be of better quality. Deliberately speak slowly – if you’re nervous you’ll probably speak too quickly without realising.
Things not to do in an interview include (and most of these should go without saying) being late, and taking a phone call in the middle of the interview. Put it on silent or turn it off. Try and keep things positive, so don’t swear or slag off your previous employers. Don’t ask about leave and if you’re asked about what you expect to enjoy about the job, don’t say the pay or the holidays!
Once the interview is over, know what the next steps are. When can you expect to hear back from them, and when can you (politely) bug them if they haven’t contacted you?
After the interview
After you’ve left your interview, as soon as you can try and write down the questions you were asked. Then evaluate and rate how good you thought your responses were from best to worst. That way if you didn’t get the job, you know how to improve. If you are unsuccessful try and ask for feedback – you may not get it – so then, again, you can use this to perform better in your next interview. Sometimes you’re just not a fit for the company or the interviewer didn’t have the right gut reaction about you, and that’s fine. Continue the job search and don’t give up.
And if you are successful, congratulations! You’re on your way to a sparkling career.