If you’ve moved past the application stage and landed yourself a job interview, well done. But if you’ve never had an interview before, you need us!
Your immediate thought upon being offered the opportunity to fight for the position you’ve applied for is likely to be: Okay, so how do I actually snap up this bad boy? I’m not a master recruiter, so I can’t tell you exactly what every company is looking for, but I can give you some generic interview tips that I’ve obtained over time that will help you out. I hope. Read on…
1. If you have any sort of social media profile, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc., then you’re probably Google-able.
What’s the visible content like on your page? How would you feel about a potential new boss seeing what you post in your spare time? Prior to the interview, the interviewer might search for your name and have a glance at what you’re like as a person – this might be absolutely fine – but if they were to bring something up in your interview that they’d seen on your profile, how would you handle it?
2. Make sure you do your research.
One of the questions in your interview could be: ‘Why do you want to work for this company?’ That isn’t ‘why do you want to work in this industry?’, so make sure you listen carefully to the question. Which one are they asking? You might well be passionate about publishing, or journalism, or television, or forensic science, but they want to know why you’ve chosen them. Find out things about the company, like who the CEO is, when it was founded, what its mission statement is – things like that – but don’t just reel off this information as though you’ve spent the entire night beforehand rehearsing it in your head, because this is what everybody will do. Why not check out their social media and see what they post on Twitter and Facebook? Perhaps they’ve retweeted a particular news article that you find interesting, or perhaps the person who writes tweets or Facebook statuses on their behalf has a particularly strong/funny tone that you think is cool. Bring it up! Praise them. Make them feel special. Take an interest in the little things they do, and not just the big things. Say you’d like to be a part of the company because you like what they put out there and you like what they stand for. In short, find yourself an angle that you don’t think many others will have used. But equally to this, you should also go to the heart of what the company is about – the sole purpose for that company existing – and state why it has made you want to work with them. Prepare yourself a nice, informal opening and closing statement that tells them why you want the job being advertised, and why absolutely nobody else deserves it but you. Don’t make yourself sound arrogant; make yourself sound confident and passionate – there’s a fine line between the two!
3) Don’t lie on your application form.
If the interviewer likes something specific that you’ve written, they might bring it up. Imagine this exchange:
Interviewer: So, it says in your application form that you’ve worked with data, interpreted data, and presented data. Tell me about a time that you had to convey this technical information to a nontechnical audience.
You: Um… well, there was this one time at band camp…
If you’ve lied and said that you’ve worked with data just because it’s one of the many job requirements, they’ll be able to tell. Don’t forget that they’ll have asked this question to the other hundred applicants, and if the other hundred applicants have indeed worked with data, they’ll answer the question better than you. If you haven’t worked with data – or you have worked with data but haven’t presented the information to a nontechnical audience – just say so, but to avoid confusion, don’t put it in your application at all. Your other (truthful) answers could be so impressive that they’ll hire you either way.
4) When the interview is coming to a close and they ask if you want to ask them anything, make sure you ask them something.
Whether it’s a question about the company or about the interviewer him/herself, just ask something. Again, this shows an interest. Maybe ask what their favourite part of the job is, or what the company does when a project it’s been focusing on goes exactly to plan – do they celebrate, or do they just move straight on to the next mission? And then before you say goodbye, ask them if there’s anything you’ve said during the interview that they’re not sure about that may have hindered your chances of a job offer. If there has been – and if he/she is a true professional – they’ll tell you. This is your chance to clear up any confusion, and to clarify that you are the only one for the job.
5) Finally, the generic tips:
I’m not going to say smart, just in case you’re going for a job for which smart clothes aren’t necessary. If you’re unsure, just ask, but it will usually be self-explanatory: if you’re going for an interview at a law firm, dress smart; if you’re going for a social media post, wear Converse. 😉
Keep eye contact.
Just be careful with it. Too little eye contact = rude; too much eye contact = weird.
Because maybe the person before you wore a poker face the entire time. It might even be that your interviewer is wearing a poker face too, but it doesn’t mean that you have to. I went for an interview once, and when I walked in, I smiled. The interviewer said: “Thank heavens – you have the ability to crack your face!” and then when he offered me the post, he told me on the phone that part of the reason he was offering it to me was because I smiled at him and nobody else did. Perhaps this was a bit of an insult; were my totes amazing qualities not enough on their own? Oh well – I got the job.
So, that’s it. A few interview tips for that position that you will get, if only you follow them. If you have any of your own to add, leave them in a comment below. Good luck!