As usual, I have been keeping my ear to the ground to pick up any useful hints and tips for you to use to further your job hunt. This time, as the job hunt season starts to get into full swing once again, the buzz in the office has been on how to conduct the perfect interview. A terrifying prospect for some, and generally an aspect of the job hunt process which causes anxiety for most. Here are a few hints and tips which will hopefully make the process easier and calmer for you, and even nail you the perfect job. Some points may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how effective they can be!
1) Look the part
– If you turn up already looking your best, you’re off to a better start than a candidate turning up with an un-tucked shirt. Look sharp. The saying goes, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but until you start speaking, your appearance is the only thing an interviewer can see. It shows your dedication to the position and creates an impressive lasting impression. You want to be remembered in a good way, not because you turned up with scruffy shoes.
2) The 5 Ps: Proper planning prevents poor performance
– You are going to be asked difficult questions. This is the whole point of the interview stages of a job application. So make sure you’re prepared! You could role play questions and answers with a friend or colleague, even talk to yourself in the mirror or write down facts and figures on memo cards – whatever it takes. You don’t want to be caught off guard because you don’t know the answer.
3) Research, research, research
– Do you know enough about the company? I mean, do you really know enough? Do you know the interview location? Do you know if there are any issues with transport routes getting to your interview? Have you got the details of who’s interviewing you? These are all key areas to know before you leave your house on the day of an interview. If you don’t know these pieces of information, a quick Google search works wonders.
4) NEVER, EVER, EVER LIE
– It can be oh so tempting to nod along and be confident about an area which, in reality, leaves you bamboozled. Some people may think, ‘how will they ever find out that I’m not a technical wizard on Microsoft Excel?’ and some might think that a slight elaboration on experience or responsibility won’t ever come to light. Well, these people are wrong. Just plain wrong. An interviewer will see through a lie, can ask for referees who can definitely point out discrepancies and in general: would you feel comfortable going into a position where you aren’t 100% competent for the role? Probably not… So just avoid the little white lie here and there. Honesty is often the best policy. If unsure, just say, ‘I’m not sure but I am definitely willing to research into this area’, or something which shows commitment to further both your knowledge and their company.
5) Know your CV: back to front, inside out, upside down, like the back of your hand…
– Whatever saying you pick, just know your CV. It is the paper projection of you: your history, your skills, your professional (and some elements of personal) life. Gaps of knowledge you might have in your CV could be the difference between getting the job and being cast aside. Sit down and study it.
– Again, seemingly so obvious. You have to remember to not just parrot back the information on your CV. The interviewer has read your CV and cover letter, otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting in the hot seat. Really listen to the questions they ask. You’ll be surprised at how truly listening will make your answer much more proficient than another candidate who sits and relates every question back to their own supposed greatness and achievements.
7) Salary negotiations? Not in the interview!
– It is tempting to get carried away with the enthusiasm for a new job and want all the facts in front of you about the role – and this is great. However, salary is a touchy subject. Bring it in too soon, and it might appear you’re only interested in the pay and not the particulars that the role entails. I’m not saying sign up for a job blind to salary – that would be ridiculous. From what I’ve heard by industry experts, it is better to leave the salary negotiation until after you have an offer on the table. You’re in a stronger position.
8) Have a PMA: Positive Mental Attitude
– It is absolutely key to keep the smile on your face, the upbeat tone in your voice and the engaging questions at the ready. Can you imagine having a conversation with someone who was negative and thinking, ‘I must speak with them again’? No. If you keep upbeat in your interview, it will only leave a lasting impression of someone hungry for the role and a pleasure to work with – which are all plus points.
Scared of Skype? You’re going to have to overcome this fear if you’re applying for jobs internationally!
9) Treat it like any other interview.
– You are face to face with a potential employer, the only difference is the computer screen between you. So make sure you follow all of the above recommendations just as thoroughly. Look smart, be positive and be prepared. And maintain eye contact – which means looking down your camera lens, not at your own image on the screen.
10) Clear the clutter, delay the distractions, activate the audio
– Instead of a nice, professional, office environment, a Skype interview means you’re more likely to be at home. So make sure you haven’t got your cereal bowl from the morning in view of the camera. Shut the door and inform everyone in your household that you are having this meeting – you don’t want the family pet or your children running in whilst you’re talking about crucial aspects of the position. Test your Skype! You can perform an audio test on your own Skype account, so make sure you test it before you spend the next hour battling a poor connection.
These are just a few of the basic areas I have picked up on which most people can apply easily. The Career Coaches at Career Intelligence offer coaching for interviews, including role playing scenarios. Career Intelligence can also offer bespoke research offering names and numbers of interviewers, headhunters and recruiters. Please get in contact if this might be of interest to you and call our London office on +44 203 6276124 to find out more.