During an interview, you will be asked numerous questions that will test your poise, ability, and most of all, your interest in the job. They are asked so the interviewer can make a decision on the following things: can you do the job; will you complement the team ethos and culture; are you willing to put in the extra effort; are you manageable, and is the salary right. Please note that only one is directed at your ability to do the job.
Interviews are not easy. You can get jittery and it’s natural to get butterflies, the secret is to get them to fly in formation. The following is no sure-fire way to getting that job offer, but they will enhance your chances.
Tip 1 – Preparation.
The most obvious, but it’s the one that is overlooked time and time again. More often than not, the job will normally go to the one who is the most prepared and has demonstrated first-hand knowledge of the job, industry, potential challenges and is able to clearly explain their key skills.
As the interview date approaches, immerse yourself in your own CV. Rehearse talking through your career, particularly any achievements and successes to date. You’d be surprised how many people stumble on the ‘talk me through your career’ question. Understanding and being able to confidently talk through your CV is a great chance to show the interviewer that your skills and expertise will add value to their business.
The quality of preparation can win or lose someone an interview. It can significantly increase your chances because your interviewer will consider it as a reflection of your enthusiasm, interest and commitment to the role. It shows you are up for the challenge, conscientious, genuine and competent. All employers love those traits.
Tip 2 – Willingness.
You won’t win over every heart and mind just based on your skills. As the competition for the best jobs increases, employers will compare more applicants and ask more questions.
You may find your interviewer asking questions about how you work, what your colleagues or friends would say about you, or your record of completing group or individual tasks. These questions are being asked more and more by potential employers to gauge willingness.
The issue isn’t whether you are prepared to carry out demeaning tasks, although making a great cuppa is an asset. It is aimed at whether you are prepared to help the team strive and prosper or take the rough with the smooth. In other words – will you go the extra mile and if you are, give examples of when you did. Most of all rehearse those stories and relate them to the nature of the role.
Tip 3 – Manageability.
There isn’t a boss in the world who enjoys a sleepless night over a difficult or unmanageable employee. Manageability can cover a multitude of disciplines but is mostly linked to the ability to work alone and with others, complete tasks without fuss, take direction, when it isn’t considerately given, due to a crisis or pressure. It’s also the willingness to work with a real range of people.
The rules here are simple. Do not be dismissive of past employers or bring up unrelated matters to the real reason you are there. No one is perfect but you do want to be someone who gels well with others and can tolerate different views and opinions. Keep the narrative positive and even if you’ve experienced a previous, poor employer, accentuate what you have learnt and how you’ve developed.
Tip 4 – Make the cultural connection.
A firm’s culture represents a system of shared meaning. It normally expresses the core values that are shared by the majority of the firm’s employees. For example, the culture at Ryanair may value a high level of competitiveness whereas The Coop may be one of trust, togetherness and loyalty. You will also want to join somewhere you belong and are in tune with a good proportion of those values.
It’s important to get a solid handle on your potential employers values and ethos and if you feel a strong connection, do amplify why you are attracted to the firm, and let them know that you view it as a strong match of shared interests and values.
Tip 5 – Answer the most common questions.
The style of interviews has not changed much which is quite bewildering, but a big advantage because you can pretty much guess what’s coming. It’s handy to get off to a great start because it creates a positive tone so before you go in, get some great answers down to the following questions – ‘What do you know about us/the role’, ‘Tell me about yourself’, ‘What interests you about the role?’,‘Why do you want to work here?’, ‘What are your biggest achievements?’, ‘Why should I employ you?’, ‘What are your strengths/weaknesses?’ and ‘What salary are you looking for?’.
You may be trying to land your first job or taking a step up the career ladder but providing natural and engaging answers will keep you a step ahead.
Tip 6 – Be a problem solver.
Nowadays, companies are doing more with less; they are leaner and have higher expectations of people. Being able to solve problems, add value or bring a skill which is in demand, is well worth amplifying. Companies prefer to employ people who understand what the business is about and have a good understanding of their goals.
I make no bones about this – companies are in business to make money and grow, and in some respects, you want the same thing. They make money by being innovative and efficient. A potential employer will always be interested in your accolades or achievements, so do not be shy about talking about things where you’ve made or saved your employer time and money. Be aware of exaggeration and if you were part of a team, identify your achievements as such. No one likes arrogance, so be humble.
Tip 7 – Make the experience connection.
A job will always have key and secondary responsibilities – some will be far more important than others. During the interview you will be asked to talk through your current and previous roles. The key to really opening the interviewer’s eyes and ears is to align your key experiences/skills to the most prominent parts of the job. By showing them how you can help and solve the dirtiest parts of the job, will tilt the conversation and odds your way.
To help get this right, you can ask in the course of conversation – what are the key aspects of the role and highlight what special knowledge you have that can solve their problem. People that can solve immediate, specific and short-term problems will reap the rewards.
The jobs market varies from year to year. Sometimes it’s candidate-driven and sometimes an employer can pick and choose. The fact remains that regardless of the economy, there will always be jobs out there for candidates that employ a well-rehearsed and comprehensive approach to interviews.