The Interview: What Should You Do?
Well done. You've got yourself an interview. You're so close to getting a job, you can just smell it, and all you have to do now is not screw it up!
Luckily, we can help. To make sure you ace your interview here's a few hints and tips.
Not too early, not to late
Arriving late to an interview is obviously a no no. Time management and punctuality are what every employer wants. So make sure you've got those in the bag. You want to allow for enough time for the bus, which is always late, the amount of traffic on the motorway or even in case you get lost! You don't want to be running into reception red faced and sweaty. Trust me it's not a good look.
On the other hand, you don't want to arrive too early. Employers don't want you turning up half an hour early and loitering around the office. If you find yourself outside with half an hour to spare, go get yourself a sandwich or a bottle of water. Arriving 5 minutes before your meeting is perfect.
It's not a picnic
Don't bring the Starbucks coffee and chocolate bar you bought on the way into the interview. You're not here to eat. It's not professional and will probably make your interviewer jealous, he hasn't eaten since breakfast!
Eat some brain food. Whole grains are good, so is oily fish. Every little helps.
This is easier said that done. But seriously. Relax. Don't twiddle with your hair or touch your face a lot, it makes you look nervous and uncomfortable. You want to seem cool and collected, you're the man… or woman!
Everyone gets nervous before an interview, trying to calm yourself with a cigarette is not a good plan. For a start, it doesn't actually work. Secondly, the smell could be very off putting if your interviewer is a non-smoker. Covering yourself with perfume and chewing gum is even worse. You're not fooling anyone. Besides, it's time you quit anyway.
Knowledge is power
Do your research! This cannot be over stated, and it's a bit of a cliché but you'd be surprised at how many people don't! Have a clear understanding of what the company does, its social channels and any relevant news articles. The more you know the better. Be prepared to answer the question "What can you tell me about this company?" If you're stuck for words, you're probably not going to get the job.
Many employers now use something they call competency based interviews, Nationwide certainly do. So instead of asking questions around your behaviour it's more around what you did.
To answer these kinds of questions it can be useful to use a structure. One of the more recognised ones is called the STAR technique: Situation, Task, Action, Result.
Situation: Describe a recent challenge/situation in which you found yourself.
Task: What you were trying to achieve from the situation.
Action: What did you do? Why you did it and what the alternatives were.
Result: What did you achieve through your actions and did you meet your objectives? What did you learn from this experience and have you used this learning since?
It can be a lot to remember, but STAR is fairly simple, and will really help structure your answer for maximum impact. BOOM! Whatever approach you use, the key thing is to listen really carefully to the question and make sure you give a full answer to it.
Think about some of the best work you've done, and the most challenging projects you've been involved with. This will allow you to showcase your best work.
Then think about how to translate this to someone who doesn't know the project. Make sure you explain the key skills and personal qualities that you used in the work you did, and how this made the project a success. Describe your work in a way that will help the interviewers see how these skills can be used in their team and the work that you'd be doing in that job.
"Do you have any questions?"
You better have at least one. It shows that you're genuinely interested in the position. Don't ask something that has already been covered in the interview, you should've been listening!
The questions you should ask depend on how well the interview went. It's down to you to make a judgement call. Use your initiative!
Some questions you could ask are:
"What projects are coming up?"
"What sort of training opportunities do you offer?"
And the rather risky - "Do you have any doubts about whether I am suited to this position?"
Only ask the latter if the interview has gone well!
Let's face it; interviews are tricky, especially if your heart's set on the job. As much as you want it though, if you don't practice the STAR technique, the people who have stand a better chance of landing your dream job.
Put simply; fail to prepare, prepare to fail.