How to perform at interviews
How to perform at interviews
Not many people like interviews. Many great candidates who would be ideal for a particular role find interviews difficult. They can be very enjoyable and rewarding experiences however, if the right approach is taken and you can overcome your nerves and prepare to give a good account of yourself.
Closing the deal
Interview technique includes first impressions, visual presentation, expression, tone of voice, body language, attitude, warmth of manner and building rapport during the interview.
It also includes the selection of content relevant to each answer, length and structure of your answers. As with a CV, the aim is not just to give objective, factual answers; it is much more than this – to perform a presentation demonstrating why you should be selected.
Skills that need to be developed are how to overcome nerves and stress (to perform well despite these), stay calm, keep your focus and think on your feet throughout your interview so that you look – and feel – confident.
- Know the job and why you are suitable for it (they make this easy for you by telling you what they are looking for)
- Know who is interviewing you, what their roles are and what they are about. Removing the mystery can go a long way towards controlling those nerves. Plus, you should be able to identify relevant things in common.
- Speak at a pace that allows the interviewers to understand everything (probably slightly slower than usual unless you are already an expert presenter).
- Elaborate on relevant examples, sticking closely to the things you know they are looking for.
- Speak for the right length of time. A minute per question might be a good time for your initial answer, with more if they ask follow-ups. If you think you are talking too much (usually fine as long as it’s relevant), just ask if they would like more detail, or mention an example and ask if they would like to know more…
- Simply stating that you have particular skills is not enough. You have to demonstrate that you have them. The ability to be able to do this on the spot when under pressure should be learned and developed.
Other things to remember
All communications with the potential employer should be taken equally seriously. People don’t turn off their perceptive abilities. The conversation in the lift or on the walk to and from the interview room should reinforce the impression that you are trying to give. Never behave with a sense of entitlement – they are the ones that are in control.
Once you have answered and the interviewer is silent, don’t panic and gabble on regardless. Simply wait for their response.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions as the interview proceeds, rather than waiting until the end. It will help you have some control of the interview and shows you’re paying attention and taking an interest.
If you don’t think it went well, try not to show this, as it may have gone better than you think. Go in with a smile and leave with a smile – first and last impressions are vital.
Need help with interview technique?
My interview preparation includes the identification of key evidence to be discussed, development of skills required to perform well and practice questions based on the kind of role you are seeking. It’s also good to have de-briefing sessions after an interview to analyse your performance and identify any weak points to improve before your next interview.