Search Magnifying Glass

Interview Tips

Three Vital Steps for a Successful Interview

As a recruitment business owner with over thirty years’ experience, I see interviewees make the same mistakes again and again. I have used my expertise to compile  these three steps which will ensure any interview goes well. Some of these points may seem obvious, but whilst reading do an honest critique of your own interview preparation, performance and technique.

With each stage of the interview the employer is trying to answer one key question:

“Why should I hire this person?”

During the interview you want to present yourself in the best possible light. To do this you need to use research and preparation to develop a strong interview message which will clearly show the interviewer how you would complement their business. It is important to leave a good impression with those you spoke to, you want to appear confident, relaxed, and knowledgeable.

Throughout the interview decision-makers are looking to determine:

  • If you can do the job.
  • How well you interact with others.
  • If you will complement the department.
  • The clarity of your answers.
  • If you ask relevant questions.
  • Your confidence.
  • Your listening skills.
  • How manageable you are.

Here are three steps to ensure you effectively present yourself in any job interview:

Step One: Do Your Homework

Before your interview you must obtain information about the employer from as many sources as possible. Research the company website, LinkedIn page, and other relevant sources. Ensure you read profiles of your interviewer and potential colleagues where possible. The company Facebook page should also give you an insight into the culture. The more information you have before the interview, the better you’ll be able to make a convincing connection between your skills and the employer’s needs. Make sure that have a genuine understanding for the business; do not simply quote what is written on their website!

The interview is a conversation, there should be interaction. But beware; you don’t want to waste valuable time in the interview asking questions that can be easily answered by some simple research. Use your research to ask prepared questions which demonstrate your knowledge of the field and to show that you’re already looking for solutions to the employer’s problems. Do NOT ask about benefits, vacations, pensions, and hours until you know you have an offer. Questions can also give a less experienced interviewer an opportunity to relax by talking about something with which they are familiar.

You can ask questions like:

  • What do you see as the growth areas of the organisation?
  • What are the most important things you’d like to see me accomplish in the first two months?
  • What do you like most about this project/department/company?

Step Two: Develop Your Interview Message

Your primary objective in the interview is to clearly translate your skills and attributes into benefits for the employer. You must verbalise why your strengths are of value to them. Don’t expect your past experience to speak for itself. Be prepared to state the obvious and tell them why they should hire you.

Preparation is vital when it comes to effectively conveying your skills to the interviewer. Think of at least three main points you want to highlight and use clear examples to demonstrate these. Be sure to focus on your most marketable skills, talents, and attributes which relate to the job. Use the interviewer’s questions to introduce these points, but make sure your answer is relevant to the question. At the end of the interview, summarise your key skills related to the key requirements and articulate your interest and enthusiasm for the job.

Try to anticipate the types of questions you’ll be asked and prepare responses that highlight your skills in advance. Use the key requirements listed in the job description to come up with an example which demonstrates your abilities in each area. Write out your answers, review and edit them, say them out loud. Be certain that your examples highlight your abilities, demonstrate your expertise, and reflect your personality. Think about what question you’re most afraid of being asked and develop a strong answer to use should they actually ask it. Being prepared will increase your chances of success and minimise stress.

In the interview itself, try to hear the question behind the question and respond to the interviewer’s concerns. Get the interviewer to talk about the position, to uncover exactly what’s being sought. This will enable you to illustrate how you can fill such needs.

While interviewers usually try to avoid asking personal questions, most want to know all they can about the applicants. Help them by providing information that you’re comfortable with discussing and would like the interviewer to know. The information you volunteer about yourself will be different from what every other applicant offers and will help you stand out from the crowd.  Try to keep the information you provide job related. For example, show you are a team player by mentioning team related hobbies if this is relevant to the job. A word of caution: don’t allow yourself to be lured into intimate chit-chat. Regardless of the kindness of the interviewer, nothing is ‘off the record’.

Step 3: Leave a good impression

You only have 7 seconds to make a good first impression, and 5 minutes to cement it. When entering an interview your handshake must be firm, your gaze steady, your appearance impeccable, and your confidence apparent. If the interviewer’s assessment of you in this time is negative, you will have to work twice as hard to change their mind. And remember, the impression as you leave is just as important as the impression as you arrive. Make sure you are as confident in your goodbye as you were in your greeting.

It is common practice now for a telephone call to be the first interview especially on the international job market; you still need to make a good impression.  Ensure you are in a quiet comfortable place with a notepad and pen to hand. Do not talk at the speed you would talk to a friend or colleague over the telephone, just slow your speech slightly and speak clearly.   Listen carefully to the questions, take notes if you can, and then answer concisely.  Your main aim from a telephone interview is to be invited to a face to face interview.  The main aim of the interviewer is to ascertain if you can do the job.

During the interview you want to be as positive as possible; rephrase your answers to exclude negative speech forms. When you practice answering interview questions eliminate words such as no, can’t, and didn’t from your speech. It’s not always what you say that counts but how you say it. This will prepare you to speak about yourself in a positive light. Don’t be apologetic about anything; handle your ‘Achilles’ Heel’ factually and non-defensively. The interviewer is there to access what you have to offer, not to hear explanations about what you don’t have.

In addition to tangible things, such as your handshake, there are other tactics which help to leave the interviewer with a strong and positive impression of you as a person. These include friendliness and sincere interest, as well as warmth and responsiveness to the interviewer. You must be aware of body language and be sensitive to cues of boredom. If the interviewer keeps looking down at your resume or out the window, bring the statement you’re making to a close.

By following these steps you will maximise your chances of success in any interview situation. Presenting yourself clearly, confidently, and effectively will demonstrate to the interviewers how you would be an asset to their business. Remember, you were called for the interview because the employers felt you are one of the best people for the job. Show them that they are right!

This guide was provided by Karen Silk, Managing Director of Capital International Staffing.