In this section
Seven Brilliant Interview Tips
1. Plan Your 'Small Talk' for an interview
Prepare beforehand the small talk that you will use to get though that initial ‘sounding each other out’ stage. Talk about (non contentious) current affairs, how nice the offices are, how friendly the receptionist is, how easy to find the offices were, how good the tea is. If all else fails talk about the weather – but whatever small talk you make ensure that it’s positive – they want to hire a winner not a whiner! Maintain solid, but natural eye contact, nod in agreement, use open handed hand gestures.
2. Take a notepad into every interview and use it!
Taking a notepad will make you come across more professional and interested in the role (and help you remember what was discussed in order to prepare for the second interview!). Ask to take down notes – you’ll get a ‘brownie point’ for being polite, let them subtly see the research that you have undertaken in preparation for the meeting. Invest in a document case where you can have your pad on the right side and your interview questions and even a list of your strengths and aspirations to the left side. When you get that tough question – a quick dart down to your left and you’ll be back on track.
3. Build Rapport and Mirror the Interviewer
Mirror the style of the interviewer. Subtly mirror their body language – if they lean back, lean back yourself, if they use expressive hand movements do so yourself, try and talk at the same pace in the same range of tones. If you breathe at the same pace as the interviewer you will find yourself communicating at a similar pace. BUT be natural, don’t try to be someone that you are not and use natural body language. Over-emphasised body language is very easy to spot, makes you comes across as staged and contrived. I have even had interviewees come across as ‘weird’ or ‘intense’ because they took this mirroring advice far too literally so beware!
We’ve all heard the cliché two ears and one mouth – but it is imperative at interview. Listen to what’s not being said as much as what is! Observe body language, eye movement and ensure the interviewer is engaged by what you have to say. Don’t monopolise the conversation, be succinct in your answers and don’t waffle. Ask acknowledgement questions i.e. ‘did that answer your question’ to ensure that the interviewer is engaged. Don’t tell anecdotes unless they are highly relevant to the question and are backing up your case. If asked questions such as ‘give an example of a risk that you have taken’, ‘what’s the biggest regret of your life’ always answer them in a way that will show you in the best positive light. Skilled interviewers will lull you into a ‘false sense of security’ and before you know it you’re telling them that your idea of a perfect holiday is drinking twenty pints of lager a night!
First interviews tend to be a test of personality, character and basic fit i.e. could they see you working with the existing team, fitting in with the corporate culture, team dynamics, etc.
5. Ask Questions throughout the interview
The best interviews are a two way process - where the balance of conversation is equal. In fact top books for interviewers say that the perfect balance should be 60/40 (60% Interviewee and 40% interviewer). Prepare questions beforehand and ask them at natural points throughout the meeting.
There is nothing worse for an interviewer who asks ‘Any questions?’ (as an invitation to close) and in reply gets a list of questions at the end – what are the hours, why do you work here, etc. - it’s very unnatural!
6. Know your facts in an interview
Know your CV inside out. Ensure that you are able to back up, substantiate and elaborate on any claim that you have made on your CV. Know your clients, your targets, your processes. Take along testimonials, sales league tables, certificates of achievement/training, etc.
7. Take your time
If you are unsure of the question or its’ relevance, ask for clarification. Don’t be afraid to take a few seconds to compose your succinct answer to the question (3-4 seconds goes unnoticed, shows you’re composed and gives you the thinking time to construct that killer-answer!)
Date published: 24th November 2022
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