With most challenges in life, the more you prepare, the easier they become. Interviews are no exception to this golden rule, and if you take all the necessary steps before the big day comes you should be well on your way to securing the job. There are many different types of interviews which differ from sector to sector, but they all follow a general two-way process where the interviewer will ask you questions and you can ask them questions.
So you've got an interview. Congrats, the easy part is over. Now you've got to prove to that employer you're the best person for the job. Prior to the interview, remember to consider the following:
- Make sure to double check the time and date of your interview so you don't turn up late or at the wrong place. That would be really really bad.
- Determine how far away the interview location is and how long it would take you to get there. Figure out what time you would need to leave to reach the interview a tad early, and then subtract 10 or so minutes to cover any unforeseen circumstances which may arise such as heavy traffic or alien invasion.
- Read the job vacancy you're applying for over and over to make sure you fully grasp what you're getting yourself into as the employer will often ask you questions such as "What is it about our vacancy that caught your eye?" and "Do you think you meet the skill requirements listed in our vacancy?".
- Check out the company's website before you go to the interview, so if/when the interviewer asks you what you know about them then you're geared up to impress.
- Make sure to get a decent night's sleep. If you're falling asleep in the middle of the interview then you aren't going to please anybody other than the next applicant in line.
- Dress to impress. You're not going out on the lash, you're going to a job interview. You only get one shot so you need to be aiming to make the most out of it.
When the big moment arises, it can be very hard not to feel nervous. This is pretty normal. Nobody likes interviews. The best you can do to minimise this fear is to read up on what questions you should expect from the employer. Expect the employer to ask questions along the lines of:
- What skills have you gained at school/college/university?
- What have you learned from work experience?
- What achievements are you most proud of in your life?
- What are your key strengths?
- What are your weaknesses? (Whatever you do, don't say "I work too hard")
- What attracts you to our organisation?
- What challenges do you see our organisation facing in the future?
The best way to answer questions which require you to prove your general competency is to use the STAR technique:
- Situation - Briefly describe the where/when/who.
- Task - Outline the task or objective and what you hoped to achieve.
- Action - Say what you did – it's all about outlining your role and input.
- Result - Tell the interviewer what the outcome was, and what skills you developed.
In an interview, it can very often seem like every minute is taking an hour to pass. To give yourself the best possible chances of impressing your interviewer, take note of the following:
- Shake your employer's hand firmly at both the beginning and end of the interview
- Try not to answer questions with a simple "yes" or "no". Always expand your answers when possible
- Try to look relaxed in your chair, but not so much that you're slouching. It's all about finding a good posture balance between looking engaged yet relaxed.