When you have secured an interview, the work is far from over. In this climate, there might be one position and 100 applicants in the interview stage. In most cases, you all have similar backgrounds and education levels so you need to find a way to stick out, in a good way! Interviews can be over the phone, on video chat using Skype, in person, one on one, in groups, based on trials, during a whole day or just 15 minutes. Whatever the format of your interview, these top ten tips apply to every situation and will help increases your chances of standing out from the crowd.
You should prepare for your interview in advance, at least a week, but if you don’t have that spend a good day on research. When preparing for your interview, look the company up online or ask them to send you out some information. The company doesn’t expect you to know everything about them, but you should be familiar with their products or services and company policy.
ICanWork4U TIP: To stay up to date with relevant news set up Google Alerts. This application will inform you of any pertinent news about the industry and the company.
2. Practice Makes Perfect
Get a list of commonly asked interview questions from your college career guidance service or online on websites such as RecruitIreland.com and write out your answers to 15-20 sample questions. Note, you don’t have to memorise the answer, actually its best not to, but writing down your answer will get you thinking about the answer and you won’t be caught off guard if they ask a similar question in the interview.
ICanWork4U TIP: With questions such as “What are your weaknesses?” Try an answer rather than “I guess I’m a perfectionist,” as the interviewers won’t believe you, have heard the same answer all day and are looking for something innovative and truthful. Whatever the weakness is, turn the negative into a positive. “I used to be late all the time, but I pushed myself to be early for everything. I put my clock 20 minutes faster, I got up earlier, I made being on time my priority and now I am on time for everything, but I continuously work on improving.” Also, do not say elements which you can’t really turn around such as you’re a gossip, I’m always negative, I hate working with people, etc.
3. Dress to Impress
You always rather be overdressed than under dressed. The best advice is to dress more formal and conservative than normal as you want then to judge you for what you have to say rather than what you look like. Even if the latest trend is shorts and see through tops or runners with skinny jeans, dress appropriately for the industry and the position. If you are going for a nursing interview, excessive makeup jewellery and hair in your face will not go down well on the job, so why dress like that in the interview. However, if you are going for a stylist or graphic designer, you should let your personality through, but still keep it professional.
ICanWork4U TIP: Check out Job Search on About.com for great tips on how to dress and what to bring to an interview.
4. Be Early Not Just On Time!
For any interview be at least a half hour early and know where you are going. There is nothing worse than being late for an interview or getting lost. The panic from rushing around looking for the interview room will only distract you from the interview and add to the nerves.
ICanWork4U TIP: If possible, visit the place of the interview before the date. This way, you will know exactly where you are going and can plan appropriately. However, you should still show up early as there may be a room change or cancelation.
5. Speak Clear and Confidently with Eye Contact
You have made it to the interview stage, this indicates you have the skills and capabilities the employer is looking for, BE CONFIDENT IN YOURSELF. When you are meeting the interviewer, shake their hand and introduce yourself with eye contact, taking note of their name. When answering questions, breath, think about the question and then start to answer it. There is no need to rush as the interviewer would rather you answer the question rather than race into it and ramble! Also, if you don’t fully understand what they are asking, ask the interviewer to clarify or elaborate on the question.
ICanWork4U TIP: To allude confidence, Keep your hands on your lap or by your side when you are being interviewed and when leaving thank the interviewer by name if you can.
6. Try not to Ramble when Answering Questions
Although you may be nervous, try to breath and keep calm when answering questions. The additional adrenaline pumping through your body will make you want to keep going on and on about this one great group project you did, but once you have answered the question and gave an example, pause and look for body language or cues to go on or stop.
ICanWork4U TIP: The interviewer will probe you if they want more and they will stop you if you keep going on so keep your answer to an answer and example then pause for a cue.
7. Give Examples to Back Up your Answers
Interviewers love real life examples of situations such as teamwork, leadership, self-initiative, conflict resolution and successful outcomes. Most questions asked will probably include “Go through an example of a time where you…” “Was there a time when you…” “Have you experienced…give details…”. Have a handful of similar situations and examples of teamwork, leadership, self-initiative, conflict resolution and successful outcomes as these will come up and one topic may appear in many questions which will need a different example for each. If you don’t have that much life experience relating to the topics listed above, when practicing prior to an interview come up with scenarios that are easy to remember and which express leadership, responsibility, teamwork, self-initiative and a successful outcome.
ICanWork4U TIP: If you can’t think of an example appropriate to the question, say so as if you make one up on the spot you will start to ramble, make up ridiculous details and then will have to answer questions about a random example.
8. Be Honest
Interviewers have been meeting people all day and listening to similar answers, they will see through any lie or altered truth you present them with. Try not to waffle or make up a lot of additional details as it will not reflect well if you are questioned on it and can’t back it up. The same goes for extending your capabilities when you can’t deliver on them in the role. For example claiming you are fluent in German when you can just scrape by or you are competent on a programme that you have used once.
ICanWork4U TIP: If a job role requires certain capabilities or experience which you do not hold, answer expressing you are eager and willing to acquire the skills and present an example of a large task you accomplished to show you are capable of learning.
- Always ask the interviewer a question when prompted “do you have any questions?”
You may know everything you need to know or you just want to get out of the hot chair, you should have two questions to ask at the end to show you are interested in the role, inquisitive and proactive. Ask questions which reflect an interest in becoming a part of the company long term. Ask about future opportunities to progress in the role, what the training consists of, what programmes do they work on, what a day in the role is like etc.
ICanWork4U TIP: Try to avoid asking how much does the role pay or what hours do I have to work as it shows you are interested in doing minimum hours and getting your money.
10. Don’t over think the situation
Once the interview is over and you have left the building, try not to over think things that went wrong or right. The interviewer will contact you when they know and that’s all you can do. Take the interview as a learning experience and keep all the information they have sent you. If you haven’t heard after the time period they set out, call or e-mail them for more information.
ICanWork4U TIP:E-mail the interviewer if you have access to their e-mail thanking them for the opportunity to interview and gain excellent experience.