Love them or hate them, interviews are an unavoidable experience for anyone starting out in their career, or looking to develop it further.
Whatever stage you’re at, and however you feel about them, making a strong impression on the hiring team is key to landing your next big role.
Pre-interview nerves may be par for the course, but the best way to overcome them is by making sure you’re fully prepared, and that you’ve done all you possibly can to stand out from the crowd. The following tips will help you do just that.
1. Know the company inside out
When you walk into the interview room, you should be armed with as much information about the company as possible – its culture and values, business objectives, key competitors, major achievements – any and all details you can find.
Don’t just memorise headlines from its website. Read blogs, follow social media pages, and look for any appearances in industry publications. The more clued up you are, the more you’ll prove you have a vested interest in the opportunity before you.
2. Practice interview questions
You can never predict what you’ll be asked in an interview, but you can prepare answers to some of the most commonly asked questions. When you start pulling these together, you’ll find you can use a lot of the same material for questions that come at you from a slightly different angle.
You can also research the employer on sites like Glassdoor, where you’ll find questions faced by previous candidates. This should give you a pretty good idea of the kind of areas you’ll be probed on.
3. Revisit the job description
It may have been a while since you first applied, and it may not have been your only application, so go back and thoroughly read over the job description.
This will ensure you’re clear on what your role would be within the organisation. When you combine this with your company research, you’ll be able to better articulate how you can contribute to growth.
4. Review your application thoroughly
As well as the job description, it’s also beneficial to revisit your application. This is what got you to this stage after all, so it’s worth a reminder of what you said initially that made you stand out as a candidate.
You also don’t want any inconsistencies between what you say at the interview, and what’s been said prior. Of course, if you were honest with your application this shouldn’t be an issue, but it’s always worth double-checking.
For example, you may have used certain facts and figures in your CV; if these come up, you want to be exact with any information you repeat.
5. Use the STAR technique
When formulating your answers, the STAR technique is a useful way of adding structure. In discussing a situation, task, action and result, you add real depth and context to your experience.
This gives the interview panel greater insight into your skills and your ability to use them effectively to achieve a desired outcome.
6. Give specific examples
For any claim you make, it’s important to back it up with demonstrable proof. For instance, it’s not enough to simply say that you’re an effective problem solver; you need to add gravity to the statement by evidencing the fact.
Make a list of all the key skills required for the role, and think of occasions where you’ve shown them in action. They might not all come up, but at least you’ll have the material in your head for the ones that do.
7. Make a good first impression
You only get one shot at it, so the right first impression is key. Not just with the interview panel either. You should be looking to impress everyone you meet on the day.
Be polite and engaging, and make sure you’re dressed the part. From your company research you should have a good idea of its culture and what constitutes appropriate attire, but it’s always best to choose a conservative outfit.
8. Arrive early
There’s a fine balance to be struck here. You don’t want a last minute rush, and you certainly don’t want to be late, but you also don’t want to arrive so early that you’re waiting around for too long, as it’ll give your nerves a chance to take hold.
Aim for around 10 to 15 minutes before your interview slot. This should give you enough time to check your appearance, gather your thoughts, and get comfortable with your surroundings.
9. Practice non-verbal communication
In an interview, your body language speaks just as loudly as your voice, so spend time working on non-verbal skills.
Looking directly at the person speaking to you and maintaining eye contact shows you’re listening attentively, whilst a strong handshake and good posture project confidence. These might not be things that come naturally to you under pressure, but a bit of practice goes a long way.
10. Be enthusiastic
This is your chance to show just how much this role means to you. Make sure that this comes across in the way you talk about both the company, and the opportunity within it.
A good way to do this is to ask questions of your own, such as what development opportunities exist, and what goals you’ll be working towards within your first few weeks of employment. In doing so, you’ll present yourself as a candidate that wants to hit the ground running, and leave a lasting impression on the hiring team.