There are different types of interviews – phone interviews, video or zoom interviews, one on one interviews (ranging from a casual conversation to a formal interview), behavioural interviews, panel interviews. Often multiple interviews and sometimes a combination of all the above occur before an offer is ultimately made. The better prepared you are for an interview the more confident you will be and the more likely you are to successfully secure the job you desire. Interviewing is both a science and an art – you must convey the right image, impression, motivations, skills and experience, ensuring multiple people agree you are the right person for the role and for the organization.
There are some simple ways to prepare for all interviews and then some specifics for the different forms.
Preparation for your interview
- Research the company, the industry, the people, the culture – look at their Annual Report, website, social media, articles. Talk to people you may know who work or have worked there.
- Learn as much as you can prior to the interview, so you have a good idea of whether this really is a role and organization that you are suited for and interested in, and so you can demonstrate that level of interest in the interview.
- Find out as much about the role as you can so that you can ensure you know the strengths and weaknesses of your background relating to the role, and also so you can prepare good questions for them.
- Have some strong answers as to why you want the role and why you want to work for that specific company.
First Impressions at your interview
- First impressions count! It can be hard to come back from a negative first impression and research indicates that interviewers are easier on those they like.
- Know the location of the interview, arrive early, be organised, ensure your phone is turned off. Be exceptionally well-groomed, and formally or slightly overdressed for the role you have applied for.
- Take a hard copy of your resume, just in case it is needed but don’t bring it out unless required. It is also useful to have a notepad and pen. You may have a computer with you but I recommend not setting it up to take notes as it can distance you from the interviewer.
- Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and a smile. They will often make some initial small talk to try put you (and themselves) at ease – use that time and chat back as it really does help break the ice. If they offer you a drink then it’s a good idea to accept – it can help you feel more comfortable and is very useful if you get a dry throat during the meeting, or need a moment to gather your thoughts.
- Sit up straight during the interview, lean forward slightly in the chair, maintain eye contact and let the interviewer lead the meeting. Don’t ever get too relaxed during an interview even if it all seems to be going really well and you have great rapport.
- Preparation is the key to performing well in an interview. You need to know your background really well, have identified and thought about the key projects and achievements you want to discuss, and know your strengths and weaknesses generally and relating to the role you are applying for.
- Approach the interview as you would a two-way conversation where you are sharing information with the interviewer.
- Interviewers often ask a range of questions that are more general and also specific to the role. Listen really well to the questions and try to understand what information they are trying to learn from you. If a question is unclear then ask the interviewer to clarify or rephrase it.
- Answer questions directly, honestly, without industry or company jargon and don’t evade a question if you don’t know the answer. Be very careful using humor or sarcasm as this can be misconstrued or offensive, and be positive in your answers not negative, even if you are describing a negative situation.
- Your answers should be between 1-2 minutes long. Start with a high-level answer and then ask the interviewer if they would like you to go into more detail. Practice your answers and time yourself so you know how long 2 minutes feels like (it’s quite long when you are speaking) – do some mock interviews.
- The interview may be a behavioural based interview where you have to give specific examples of how you managed a particular situation so become familiar with answering questions using the CAR method:
- Briefly describe the Circumstance – the event, project or challenge;
- Explain the Actions you took;
- Discuss the Result that occurred.
- It is often a good idea to use the CAR method to answer questions even in a normal interview.
- Sometimes you may be asked to discuss a situation where you did not deliver what was expected, or a strategy you applied did not succeed so it is a good idea to prepared answers for these as well.
Concluding the interview
- Prepare some good questions to ask the interviewer at the end of the meeting. This is an opportunity to show you have done your research, understand some of the challenges and are interested in the role – as well as gaining specific information that you need to make your decision.
- These questions can also be an opportunity to demonstrate some particular skills or achievements you have that you believe to be relevant but has not been discussed during the interview.
- Let the interviewer know you are interested in the role, ask if they need any more information from you and if appropriate ask about the next steps in the process.
- Ensure you thank the interviewer before you leave.