Job Interview Techniques
Few people who enjoy interviews and those who do can be in danger of appearing over-confident. However you feel about them remember that if you have been invited for an interview, the employer must think that you have the skills and experience for the job. All you have to do is make sure that you clearly communicate what you can do, how keen you are and that you would be an asset to the company.
An interview is a two way process, it gives you the opportunity to decide if you would like to do the job and if you would like to work for that particular company.
Interviews can take many different forms ranging from a one-to-one informal meeting, through to a panel of influencers and perhaps a final decision maker. Occasionally it’s a one-to-one with several people who are involved with the job role.
The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel. There are three key areas to consider:
1) The company
Find out as much as you can about the employer. Look at their information published on the web, and their company brochures. You may get some general information from the local Chamber of Commerce (www.northants-chamber.co.uk) if they are a member. If you’re applying for a role in a company, Companies House website (www.companieshouse.gov.uk) provides the accounting information including: annual returns, company records and directors' reports so that you can see how buoyant the company is.
2) The job
You need to analyse the job description carefully and consider what it would actually involve. How would you approach the position? What ideas do you have about how things could be done? Do you foresee any difficulties? Consider how your past experience will equip you for this.
3) Your skills and qualities
A common interviewing question is: What are your strengths and weaknesses? It’s amazing how many people never really give this any thought. Some people don’t like to blow their own trumpet, but if you don’t no-one else will
Draw up a list of your strengths, and think of examples of how you have demonstrated them in the past. As far as weaknesses go, be honest with yourself, but you don’t have to tell an employer your inner most thoughts!
Everyone has areas that need developing, but try and make these sound positive and don’t put yourself down. It’s okay to say that you plan to upgrade your computer skills on certain packages, but don’t say that your computer skills are weak.
Do’s and Don’ts
• Find out where you have to go, do a dummy run at the same time of day if you can
• Dress appropriately – clean and tidy, in a suit if appropriate (e.g. office job) – remember the impression you make in the first 30 seconds is vital!
• Walk into the room confidently and shake hands firmly
• Make good eye contact, but not too much to make the interviewers feel uncomfortable
• Listen carefully to the questions and ask if you don’t understand what they are getting at
• Try to back up your answers with examples
• Smile and sound enthusiastic – do you really want the job?!
• Prepare some questions to ask afterwards
• Wear too much jewellery, make-up, perfume or aftershave
• Wear too short a skirt or show too much cleavage
• Be over confident
• Argue with the interviewer
• Criticise previous employers, schools or colleges
• Give one word answers
• Bluff or tell lies
• Slouch or look too relaxed
• Be over familiar
• Ask about salary at the first interview
• Be polite and show respect to the interviewers
• Look interested and ask appropriate questions
• Thank the interviewer for their time at the end of the meeting and ask when you will be notified of the result if it hasn’t already been mentioned. Also impress on them that you are still interested in the job.
When we talk about communication we often think of the words we say, but research has shown that:
- 80% of communication comes from body language (posture, eye contact, gestures)
- 13% from tone of voice (how we say something)
- 7% is from the words
Remember that it’s not necessarily what you say, but the way you say it and the way you behave at an interview that creates the biggest impression.
After the interview
If you are offered the job, that’s the time to negotiate the salary. You know then that the employer wants you, so you are in a better bargaining position.
If you are not offered the job, ask the employer for feedback on how you performed at the interview. This can be a bit hard to take sometimes, but you can learn a lot from it which may help you at subsequent interviews.