The interview situation – after public speaking, it’s probably one of the experiences a lot of us fear most. I have a suspicion that some people might even put off job hunting for fear of the ‘interview’. Sound familiar? With good advance preparation and practice, you can turn it into a positive experience. The following top tips will help you be prepared, realaxed and confident and ensure you that you will bring out the best you have to offer. Here are 10 things to remember whilst preparing for your interview (and even your job hunt):
1. Reciprocal situation Remember that it’s as much about you interviewing them as your potential employers as it is about them interviewing you as a potential employee. You spend a good 20% of your week working – make sure it’s spent wisely in a place where you want to be!
2. Be prepared This is a time for you to excel. If your CV is shabby, you’re unlikely to get an interview. The perception is that it is the one document you’re likely to spend a lot of time on - and if you can’t get that right, then what does that tell your potential employer about the quality of any other work you might do? Similarly, if you don’t prepare for an interview, what does that say about how you are likely to prepare for presentations, reports, whatever it is that the job entails. There are added advantages to preparing. It calms nerves.
Important details to remember: know where you are going, how you are getting there, how long it will take you, what time you will leave, what you need to bring with you and find out what will be expected of you and what resources you will have at your disposal. And read a newspaper that week (if you don’t already do so), so you know what are the main issues in the outside world!
3. Do your research Find out as much as you can about the company/organisation, the industry and the role you are applying for. Other good things to research include competitors (and their strategies), any related industries that are likely to have an effect on this one, etc. This is all good background information to have and to use in grounding your answers.
4. Know why you want this particular job in this particular organisation Think about it, if a soap salesman doesn’t know what’s great about his soap and why a customer should buy it, they are unlikely to sell it to anybody. With that in mind, know what’s great about you, why you want to work for the organisation in question and why they should hire you. If you know the answers to these questions, then the organisation doesn’t have to guess, and you can help them be clearer as to why they should hire you!
5. Have questions prepared Lack of questions can often be interpreted as laziness or lack of interest in the role in question – and you don’t want that. A good way to prepare is to have an idea of what you really want from your work, your working environment, etc. - compare this to what you know and have researched about the company/organisation – and make questions out of the bits you still want clarified.
6. Know your strengths, be aware of your weaknesses Although it’s being used less, it’s still a popular question: What are your strengths and weaknesses? Make sure you know what these are, that you can articulate them, and that you know how to see your weaknesses as potential strengths. And be aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are in an interview situation as well – and use these to your advantage as much as possible.
7. Have a plan for recentering Some questions may throw you off guard – either because you are nervous or you get a question you weren’t expecting. Have a plan ready for what you do to regroup yourself before you answer from a place that is not going to present the best you.
8. Don’t assume your interviewers have read your CV Reiterate what you’ve already written in your application to ensure that all your interviewers knows what you are referring to (they may have either not read your CV or gone through so many that they won’t necessarily remember the details in yours). This is an excellent place to add new information in as well.
9. Your best you First impressions count – a lot! Make sure you are presenting the best you: good quality and appropriate clothes, groomed appearance, enough sleep and sufficient energy.
10. Enjoy! A lot of us could do with not taking things so seriously – loosen up and have fun: you’ll be far more likely to come across confident and as somebody that would be fun to work with!
Satu Kreula, professional coach, publishes Escape Stories, a monthly newsletter with loads of tips like the one above, and real-life stories of people who've made the leap to happy working lives. Sign up now at www.escape-club.org!
(c) 2004 Satu Kreula