The 10 secrets of interview success

Fear of interviews is common, especially when you’re facing your first ever interview, your first after a knock like redundancy, or if it’s for a job or promotion you really want.

However, you can help reduce that fear, stand out from the crowd and increase your chance of success by practising these ten tips.

Apply for the right job

You have to be able to do the job after all – and demonstrate that in your interview. Almost as important is that it’s a job you want to do.

Think in advance about what you’ll enjoy about it, how it will benefit you, and why you’re interested in working for this company. Thinking ahead about all this will give you a positive outlook on your interview and the preparation for it, and should generate the enthusiasm that your potential employer is looking for. It will also help take you into work you love!

So before applying, take some time out to analyse yourself, your aspirations and your skills – and don’t assume they haven’t changed over the years.

Prepare before you arrive

Read the job description carefully and match what you have to offer with the qualities it mentions. Have some examples ready – interviewers will usually want to hear about a situation you were in, the task you undertook, how you successfully completed it, and the result.

Make sure you talk about what you personally contributed, even as part of a team. Remember to focus on the successful outcomes, or if something failed, it’s fine to talk about what you learned. This is the STAR approach: Situation, Task, Action, Result.

Have examples ready for questions covering likely areas, such as teamwork, communication, influencing and organisation skills. Use all areas of your work and life experience including school, work and hobbies.

Research the organisation

Look at their website, social media activities and the news. You’re looking for lots of information about their way of working, what’s important to them, and the services and products they offer. This research helps you understand their overall purpose – a must – but you’ll also be able to show genuine interest and ask appropriate questions in your interview. Take a look at our blog from September 2016 on researching a prospective employer for more tips on this topic.

Make a good first impression

Plan your outfit carefully, bearing in mind the type of company and the job you’re applying for. You’ll generally be expected to be smart, neat and tidy. Have a good introduction ready, with a smile, eye contact and a good handshake to build rapport with your interviewer. Get comfortable by practising on your family and friends!

Finally, make sure you know exactly where you’re going – scout it out with a trial run a day or two before if you’re unsure to make sure you arrive punctually. All that’s left to do then is get a good night’s sleep, so you’re looking and feeling fresh and alert for your interview.

Ask for a drink of water

Drinking water will help to keep you calm and control your nerves. Taking small sips of water during the interview helps you keep a clear voice, concentrate and buys you valuable thinking time. It also helps you to relax, especially if nerves are making you feel hot. Don’t be afraid to take your jacket off if you are really hot.

Be yourself

No acting and no performing. Give your interviewer what they want – as good an understanding of the real you as possible in the short space of time they have, so they can see how you would fit into your business or team. If you are relaxed and confident you are more likely to put across a positive view of your personality. It also puts the interviewer at ease, so you both enjoy the experience.

Be honest

Don’t make things up or embellish the things you have done. Most experienced interviewers are excellent questioners and will probe for further information along with asking you to illustrate your part in a given task, project or event. If you make something up you will get caught out! It’s not worth the stress or the risk.

Listen carefully to the questions

Make sure you have understood the question and don’t be scared to clarify what they are actually asking you. Ensure the answer you give really does answer the specific question they are asking.

Ask your own questions

Find out more information about the role and the company – the interview is your opportunity to discover more about the organisation and the team you could be working with.

Examples of good questions include:

  • What will the average day or week involve?
  • How would current employees describe them as an employer?
  • How many training and development opportunities are there?
  • What future promotion opportunities are available?

This will help you to decide whether they are the right company for you, if you like working with them, whether you will enjoy the job and whether it will take your career in the direction you want it go. It’s fine to let your interviewer see you’re thinking about these things.

10. Get some feedback

If you don’t get the job, ring up and ask for some feedback. This will help you to understand why you weren’t successful and identify what, if anything, you can do differently next time. It will also help you identify if there is an extra skill you could work on, or something in your interview technique that needs polishing, ready for next time.

By putting these tips into action you are more likely to stand out from the crowd and be memorable.  Let me know how they work for you or any other tips you have used that work.

If you want to practise beforehand why not book a coaching session with me? Give me a call for an introductory chat on 07765 894040.

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