Whether this is your first job interview or one of many, the preparation should be the same. Maybe you are a person that breezes into an interview, confident and self-assured or someone that has to do battle with nerves. Either way, by following a set process you are far more likely going to make the most of your time with a prospective employer. Like many things in life, planning helps to avoid last-minute hiccups or making a mess of something that should have gone smoothly.
“Knowing that forewarned is forearmed.” – Abraham Tucker, ‘The Light of Nature Pursued’, 1768
Being an interview detective means finding out as much as you can about the company, its products or services and recent history. Has it been in the news due to some wonderful accomplishments or is it struggling to deal with a recent negative hit upon its brand? If you are given the name of the person who will be interviewing you, check them out on LinkedIn. This immediately provides you with a positive as when you walk through the door, you should recognise the person in front of you and know a little about their background. You are being interviewed for a specific position so read the job specification carefully, clarifying in your head how you would be a good fit. If the post isn’t advertised with an idea of salary, Google other similar positions to check whether or not it is suitable for your needs.
Job interviews can only progress well when the interviewer has prepared suitable questions. If this is the case, it bodes well for a well-organised and professional company. Do beware if the interview process is a shambles, darting from one topic to another and following no set path; this could be a pointer that the company operates in the same way, so beware. Many job candidates think of the interview as being a one-way affair, with themselves in the hot seat and the interviewer in control. But there is a better way of thinking about the interview process. Instead, concentrate on the fact that you are two people looking to find a solution – the interviewer wants the best person for the job and you want the best job. By seeing it as a two-way procedure, your nerves should lessen and you should be more able to answer questions impressively whilst asking some of your own.
When answering questions at a job interview, keep the following tips in mind:
The three-second interview rule
The interviewer will determine whether they like you and want to employ you within three seconds of you entering their office. An incredible fact but true. Their brain will go into auto-pilot mode, assessing how trustworthy and professional you are. Once made, these judgements are hard to shift. Maybe it goes back to the caveman in all of us when we had to assess people that we met quickly, putting them into the friend or foe category. Wherever it comes from, you need to take advantage of this rather than letting it work against you. Make a great impression, not only from the way you look but by having a smile on your face when you enter the room. Make eye contact and be confident without any arrogance. Give a firm handshake and focus on the fact that you are pleased to meet the interviewer. They will pick this up and feel positive about you. Body language is really important also. Avoid crossed arms and legs and sit on the chair in a relaxed yet poised position. If you act and look professional, you will be giving off the right vibes. Steer clear of being too laissez-faire though – leaning back with legs stretched out and arm on the back of the chair might result in the interview being cut short!
It’s okay to use your hands to emphasise things when you are talking as long as you don’t overdo it. Talk clearly and at a measured pace, avoiding speeding up if you get excited about something. Never get into negative waters. For example, if you are asked why you left a job and you know it was because you didn’t get on with your boss, don’t say this. Talk about the positives of the position and infer that you wanted to move on to experience new challenges. Prevent yourself from interrupting the interviewer or talking over them, no matter how enthusiastic you are about the role.
Once the interview is over, it’s fairly sure that the person sitting behind the desk will ask you if you have any questions. Even if you don’t, never say no. This might make it appear that you are slightly disinterested or haven’t done any homework. Don’t immediately zone in on asking how much the salary is but show your interest; even if you only ask one question, make it a good one, such as, “How would you describe the company culture?” or “What would a typical day be like in this role?”
If you do well and get through to the final interview, you may want to ask if you can see the office and some of the people you would be working with. This is when salary and any benefits should be discussed so if the employer doesn’t mention it, it is acceptable for you to do so. Be tactful, beginning by showing your interest in the position and talking about the strengths that you would contribute and the specifics that you could bring to the table. The employer needs to understand that you are interested in much more than the money.
No matter the type of job interview that you have coming up, stay calm. You can talk to the team at CMD Recruitment if you need specific assistance. Whilst this job interview is important, don’t let the value of it weigh you down. Try and approach it as a win-win experience where you have as much to give as the employer. We have helped plenty of job hunters in the past with interviews, so always feel free to get in touch. We’re here to help.