News & Insights
Interview Tips & Pointers to Help you Stand Out
Interview tips and advice can be Googled with ease in today’s modern Internet rich world, where pretty much everyone has an Internet enabled Smartphone or Tablet. The downside to this however is that most searches will return the same regurgitated tips; “make sure you wear a smart suit and tie, skirt and blouse, ask plenty of questions, smile and make plenty of eye contact” etc. etc. As a Professional Services Recruiter for more years than I care to remember, I have developed the following points which may help you to set yourself apart from other candidates, when added to the usual interview tips.
Plan, Do, Check, Act
Most of you will know this as the Deming Cycle and in my experience a simplified variant of this is a valuable tool for mentally preparing yourself for interview, applying this structured approach will enable you to “take care of business” in a controlled manner. To prepare yourself, find an area where you can be on your own, where no one can see you or interrupt, and start Step 1 Plan.
Ask yourself pertinent questions you think could come up at the interview, “So why do you think you are suitable for this job?” etc. Answer each question out loud, as if you were sitting in front of the interviewer. You will initially, say something stupid, irrelevant or blank out completely. It doesn’t matter at this juncture; we are in the planning phase. When you fall down, start again, using answer components you thought sounded good and add to them.
As you move into Step 2 Do, you will generate more and more possible answers and ultimately you will select the best ones for each of the questions asked, you will be amazed at how much of this comes back to you at the appropriate time and the right words and phrases will seem more readily available.
Once satisfied with your answers it’s now time to move into Step 3 Check, do your well-constructed answers stack –up, do they completely answer the elements or sub elements of the question? If no, go back to Step 2, if yes then it’s time to move to Step 4 Act. In this instance it’s time to attend the interview fully prepared and armed with responses.
The enemy within, nerves – they can’t be gotten rid of, however the can be mitigated like any risk
It is only natural for your nerves to change how you think, act and speak during your interview, rather than just hoping it will be “alright on the day/night”, consider how your nerves affect you, recall previous interviews and draw from the experiences and decide how you can limit the negative effects of this. From a personal perspective, I tend to stumble over complex words and my hands can on occasions flap about like tennis rackets. I know this, because I’ve been nervous a myriad of times.
So when I anticipate nerves, I ensure that I take an extra second to consider my verbal response and make sure I keep my hands clasped, except when I make firm gestures. Now chances are none of these things hide my nerves from the interviewer or interview panel sat opposite me, however because I feel more in control, the nerves subside meaning I’m calmer, more confident, and can focus on the content of the matter at hand.
The subtle art of in interview communication
Establishing clear and good communication with the interviewer/s is obviously going to help you succeed in an interview, but does not come naturally to everybody. The key to success here is
(a) try and stay within a set of parameters
(b) be enthusiastic, but not over powering
(c) show you have a sense of humour, but that you are serious about the position
(d) divulge your knowledge accurately and concisely, do not go outside the boundaries of your experience
(e) Most importantly of all, be polite and smile. It is hard not to warm to somebody who is well mannered and friendly and in a competitive interview it could be the difference in winning over the hiring manager.
The end game, leaving on a positive note
Interviewers, whilst focusing on the answers and information provided by you the candidate, also rely on their gut feeling, so any unusual behavioural characteristics can have dire consequences. What constitutes “unusual”? Well, a candidate asking if their wife/girlfriend/boyfriend or mother can sit in on the interview is pretty unusual, or fielding a barrage of mobile calls or text messages that’s unusual too.
It can be something subtle though, such as the candidate choosing to sit overly recumbent on their chair or deciding it is appropriate to make use of colourful language or innuendo’s (As a recruiter, these have reared their ugly heads from post interview review meetings). It’s a safe assumption, that from the moment you enter the interview location to the moment you leave it again, you are being scrutinised, so it is imperative that you act accordingly.
In conclusion I hope the aforementioned provides another piece of the interview jigsaw and helps to fine tune your interview technique and ultimately enables that perfect role to be secured.