So, you’ve secured an interview to your dream job. It’s make or break time. Whether or not you perform at your best over the course of an hour can be the difference between successfully landing the job or massive disappointment. Sounds stressful, right? It doesn’t have to be. Firstly, remember that the interview is a two-way process. If you’re meeting with a company then they’re interested in hiring you, just like you’re interested in joining them. The balance of power does not sit entirely with the employer. You may also be afraid of your competition, thinking there are a host of better-experienced, more highly-skilled, super-polished candidates all vying for the job. This is highly unlikely. Talented candidates are not easy to come by. If you have the skills and experience to do the job and can demonstrate both this and that you’re a cultural fit in the interview, you’re in with a very good chance of landing the job. It’s as simple as checking off every item on the below list:
Learn about Competency or Behavioral-based interviewing (these are the same thing) and learn to use the STAR (situation, task, action and result) methodology for answering these questions.
Ask for a copy of the Position Description. Understand what key competencies are required for the role (e.g. organisational skills, relationship building, leadership). Be prepared to answer competency/behavioral-based questions on this role. Have examples ready of specific times in your career that you’ve demonstrated the required competencies. Ensure that you also know what the company values are. Have some good questions ready to ask about the company.
Where possible, talk to people who have worked for, or had dealings with, the business you’re applying to. See if you know anyone in common on LinkedIn and reach out to them. Ask them about the company culture. You’ll want to demonstrate that you’re a cultural fit in the interview.
Go to Google Maps and Trip Planner and make sure you know exactly where you’re going, the best way to get there/park and ensure you have ample time.
If you’re in a conservative industry then a good suit is the way to go (suit for a guy, suit set for a woman). However, if you’re not in Law, Finance or Banking, its a little trickier. If you’re in a creative industry then you’ll be out of place in a suit. For guys generally nice business trousers and a smart shirt do the trick or a stylish suit without the tie. For women, think stylish, leaning towards conservative. Even in creative industries, research has shown looking overly “trendy” can work against you. Go with simple lines and nothing too short or tight.
This isn’t as difficult as it seems. Power Posing works a treat here. Just prior to your interview, go into a private space, car, cab or toilet cubicle, and hold an expansive stance like Wonder Woman. Research has shown that by doing this you elevate the levels of cortisol and testosterone in your body and feel more relaxed. When you’re in the waiting room prior to the interview, just focus on your breathing. By slowing down your breath you’ll slow your heartbeat.
All professional athletes and performers visualize their success at an event prior to the event itself. Picture yourself enjoying your interview, answering questions brilliantly and imagine how fantastic you’ll feel when you complete the interview, knowing you performed your best.
Be very conscious of your body language. In order to appear (and make yourself feel) in control and not nervous, don’t fidget, ensure not to speak too quickly and maintain a level voice pitch (don’t go too high). Shake hands firmly (not too tightly) and look the interviewer/s in the eye. Maintain eye contact for a minimum of 60% of the time (otherwise you’ll look shifty) and smile! If you are happy and warm, others in your presence will feel the same.
Take your time
If you’re not sure about a question, or need more time, ask for the question to be repeated. This few extra seconds may be enough to give your brain time to power up and come up with a great response.
Thank the interviewer/s.
At the conclusion of the interview thank the interviewer/s for their time. Follow up the next day with a short email thanking them again and expressing your interest for the role.
Ok, so there you have it, a simple guide to a successful interview. Now you’re all ready for interview one. What about potential interviews two and three? The first interview is almost always the most challenging. Subsequent interviews are generally to assess cultural and team fit or for the “rubber stamp” of senior management. For second and third interviews you simply need to be yourself, a professional and charming version of yourself, that is!