How to Ace an Interview
First impression – let’s start the interview in good stead. Dress smart, give a strong handshake, introduce yourself clearly and make eye contact. It’s crucial to show confidence, your enthusiasm for the job prospect and that you are here to mean business.
RESEARCH THE COMPANY!
It sounds simple but so many people fail to do it. Why wouldn’t you want to be clued up on the business you’re applying to join? It’s just as important for you to know everything that the company is about, and more importantly that it’s going somewhere and the right fit for you. The ‘What do you know about us?’ is the easiest question of the whole interview to pass and impress with is. Instantly from your answer to this question I can tell whether this is a job you actually want, or if it’s just another one off a long-list you have applied for on the internet, so SWOT UP.
Once your interview has been confirmed, you need to be asking for a job description and person specification. And there you go – the test answers given to you on a plate. The purpose of the job description is to outline the exact candidate qualities they need to successfully fulfill the duties of the job – so you’d be a fool not to use this! Prepare some interview answers to include experiences that match the specification to a tee. Want to go one step further? Prepare some questions specific to the role, and this will go a million miles in showing your enthusiasm and knowledge.
‘Tell me about yourself’
Sounds like an easy question. It’s open-ended Your chance to talk through all your main highlights since birth, right? Wrong. Although winning the sack race in year 6 might be a major achievement for you – they’re not after your life story. What the hiring manager wants, is a quick two-minute snapshot of who you are and why you’re the best candidate for this position.
All interview questions are usually open questions. There is no place for one-word answers here. Having to prompt you for more information is painful for both of sides of the table and gives the impression you aren’t prepared and your knowledge is limited. Use each question as the opportunity to tell even more about your skills and experiences. The internet is full of example interview questions for every role imaginable – so get online, and get practicing and preparing some answers. This way you won’t be on the spot and anything they throw at you will be a breeze.
You must know your strengths
So, pick your 3 best skills, then prepare three DIFFERENT experiences from previous employment to illustrate and back it up. Tell a story of how you were hard working, instead of just saying it. Don’t leave it up to the imagination of the interviewer. You’ll look like you’re quick on your feet and you will display a confidence in your capabilities. Try to give different situational WORK examples each time, don’t keep going back to that one story when you bartered that guy down a few euros in turkey to get that fake England shirt for a fiver to demonstrate your negotiation, persistence and communication skills.
You must also know your weaknesses
It’s the modern day favourite question. Whatever you do, don’t say ‘nothing’. That is the wrong answer. No hiring manager is going to believe that. Everyone has areas for improvement; you wouldn’t be sitting that side of the desk if you didn’t. Although, be careful what you do choose to say here, don’t give them any cause for concern on your abilities. Discuss non-essential skills, or talk about a previous weakness and what you have done since to improve it. Another trick is to choose a negative that’s a positive, for example, – you get frustrated if meetings don’t start on time, (highlighting your good time keeping skills)- you’re a bit OCD with filing organisation, (highlighting your organisational skills)- you find it hard to leave a job unfinished (highlighting your work ethic)
No matter what the situation, start bad mouthing your previous boss. Sitting in front of you is potentially your new boss – is this how you will be speaking about them a few months down the line? It reflects the opposite way on you as an employee, first thing that springs to my mind – are you a difficult employee? And there you just were saying how well you get on with everyone.
Always have two or three questions for them at the end, perhaps around career development, upcoming projects or something you spotted during your company research, or as simple as what makes them such a great company to work for. Don’t ask questions like how many hours, start and finish times or even money (especially in first stage interviews) unless they’ve asked you. They don’t need to know about your limited availability on a Friday afternoon due to ‘happy hour’ commitments down the local pub just yet.
Always finish the interview by asking what the next step is. Declare your keen interest in the role and thank them for their time and for the opportunity. If you want it – show it!
Now go ace that interview!