Interviews can be uncomfortable situations for many of us. Some people hate the idea of having to boast about all their qualities and achievements, for others, it’s the thought of not knowing how to answer the interviewer’s questions that get them sweating. Whilst most of us will have to go through the interview process at some point in our lives, there are a few things that we can do to make the process less daunting. To help you in your job search, we’ve gathered together some helpful tips so you are able to tackle the interview process with confidence.
Take time to prepare for your interview a few days beforehand. Last minute preparation will most likely increase your stress levels!
Research the company who have invited you to interview by thoroughly reading their website and thinking about why you want to work there - what you like about the them and why you think you will be a good fit for their job.
Read over your CV and think about how you might answer questions about it. Think about how your experience, skills and qualifications prove that you will be the right person for the job.
Prepare to answer questions about your strengths and weaknesses, past achievements, your approach to problems and how you solve them and about how you manage your time.
Think of some questions to ask the interviewer so that you can fully understand what it might be like to work there and to show that you are carefully considering the job. Some questions you might want to ask include: What does a typical day in this job look like?, Is support available for employees that want to gain extra skills? What would you describe as the best part about working for this company?
Prepare your interview outfit the night before the interview so that you are not rushed on the day. Remember to dress appropriately for the workplace where you are being interviewed. If you are not sure what to wear you could ask the company who are interviewing you what would be best.
Take time to plan your journey to the place where your interview will happen. It will help to calm your nerves if you can picture exactly where it is you have to go and how long it is going to take you to get there.
On the day
Arrive a little early (usually 10-15 minutes) so that you have some time to catch your breath before you head into the interview.
Accept a glass of water if you are offered it, or politely ask for one, as this can help with any dry-mouth moments if you are particularly nervous.
Try not to let your nerves get the better of you when answering questions. Take a deep breath before starting to speak, don’t go too quickly, and if you need a moment to think before answering then do so. It is often much better to take a short time to think about an answer than to say the first thing that pops into your head!
Give full answers when responding to questions - don’t just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Try to give examples, where appropriate, and think clearly about the points you are trying to put across.
Don’t be afraid to ask for the interviewer to explain the question again in a different way if you don’t understand what they are asking the first time around.
The STAR technique can be helpful when answering questions about your experience.
STAR stands for:
- S - the situation you were in e.g. A customer complained about the service they received
- T - the task that you had to do - e.g. Investigate and resolve their complaint
- A - the action you took - e.g. Calmed the customer, followed the complaints procedure and notified the relevant person
- R - the result of your action - e.g. Customer was happy that they felt listened to and continued to use the service
You can use this approach to structure your answers and help you to explain your previous experience more clearly.
Remember to answer questions positively - avoid negativity about yourself or any previous workplaces or jobs.
If you lack a skill that the interviewer is questioning you about you could use examples from your personal life of a similar skill you use instead, and then let them know that you are willing to learn new things to progress your experience and understanding.
Usually, the interviewer will give you a chance to ask questions at the end of the interview. It is also helpful to ask at this point when you are likely to hear from them with the news of whether you got the job.
Don’t assume that you have the job - always put in your best effort and avoid talking about wage at the interview stage as this discussion will usually come later on in the recruitment process.