The last time I got a job via interview was in 2004, and I’ve only had one formal interview since then, so I suppose I’m not really qualified to give advice from the side of the interviewee. However, in the last year I’ve interviewed people for five separate positions and I thought it might be useful to jot down some of the easy things to do that can really make a difference.
1. Be prepared
I know this seems obvious but it’s incredible how many people haven’t done their research on the company, interviewer and type of role. You will undoubtedly be asked about your opinion – make sure it’s clearly well informed.
2. Body language
Eye contact, a firm handshake, sitting up straight, and a ready, confident smile… those are my top four, and possibly all you can focus on at one time. Of course there are hundreds of incredibly useful articles on this subject from Forbes to Mashable – check them out and don’t underestimate how much of a difference it makes to get it right.
3. Take a notepad
The best interview tip I had from anyone, ever, was to take a notepad into interviews. Not only did it make me look super organised and prepared (I had written my notes and questions in it), but it calmed me down by giving me something to focus on and a confident way to start the interview. Thanks to my great friend and sometime mentor Victoria Ribbans.
4. Deep breaths
Everyone expects a little nervousness from an interviewee but when it becomes awkward and difficult for both sides of the table, it can be hard to come back from. Take 10 long deep breaths before you go in to the interview, and try to speak on the exhale, matching your interviewers pace and pitch.
5. Stop talking
When you’ve made your point and answered the question, stop. Smile if appropriate and lean forward slightly, but don’t be afraid of silence. If you find yourself rambling, try to bring yourself back to your original point and end on something sharp and snappy, otherwise both you and the interviewer will have forgotten the good bit of your answer – you’ll be on the back foot, and they won’t have heard your best answer.
Finally, try to enjoy it! Even if you don’t get the job, there are so many good things about an interview – it’s a chance to find out more about a new role and organisation, a practice ground to hone your communications and presentations skills, and a new contact made.