Get interview ready

You’re ambitious.  You’re ABE qualified.  But in a competitive job market, how do you stand out from the crowd and turn that all important job interview into a job offer?

As someone whose career spans over 30 years, I have had a fair bit of experience as both interviewee and interviewer.  When it comes to being interviewed, remember the Benjamin Franklin quote:  “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”   He probably wasn’t thinking about job interviews at the time, but no saying could be more apt.

Before your interview

  • Re-read the job description and research the company.
  • Think about the questions you are likely to be asked.  Prepare your answers in a way that highlights your skills and personality, and then apply these to the role. For example, most employers like to see that you are ambitious, but don’t give the impression that you’ll leave if not made a promoted in the first month! Talk about your ambition to take ownership of the role and make a difference in the department.
  • Get a friend to give you a mock interview, or practice in front of a mirror. Make sure your answers aren’t just about you, but about how you can apply your skills to the job.  

Some advice about good answers to typical interview questions can be found on YouTube and various recruitment websites so have a look at these but use your thoughts as well.

On the day

  • Turn up on time. Apart from giving a bad impression, if you’re late to an interview, it can make you feel flustered and gets the whole thing off to a bad start.  Allow an extra half or so and, if you’re there early, it gives you some extra time to think about what you want to say
  • Dress appropriately.
  • Make sure you sure you have the name of the person you need to ask for when you get there. This sounds obvious, but it’s a surprisingly easy mistake to make.

The interviewer

This is the unknown element of any interview.  Here’s a lowdown on the types you might encounter and how best to handle them: 

Friendly

Luckily, most people want to put you at your ease, and recognise this is the best way to get to know a candidate. Most interviewers you meet should, hopefully, be friendly. 

Tip: there is a danger you can get side-tracked by pleasant chat and lose focus.  If you find you are talking about things unrelated to work, steer the conversation back to the role and your suitability for it.

Unenthusiastic

Unlike Friendly, this type has no interest in creating a connection with you. They just want get through the interview and fill the vacancy. Expect less casual talk and more focus on business.

Tip: don’t waste time trying to get this type of interviewer to like you. Be pleasant but simply convey your work ethic and your professionalism.  Build their respect by making your answers as clear and concise as possible. But be careful not to let their attitude stop you from showing enthusiasm for the role, or rush you into finishing without providing a full account of your skills.

Intimidating

Sometimes, an employer will want to see how you react under pressure, which gives rise to this type of interviewer. They may try to put you off by telling you you’re got your facts wrong or grilling you for details you may not have to hand.    

Tip: be honest about what you don’t know, and be very clear and detailed with the answers that you do know.  Above all, keep calm and don’t let them scare you into giving rushed, un-thought-out answers.

Inexperienced know-nothings

Though unusual, this type of interviewer can frustrate you by asking naive questions or demonstrating a lack of understanding of the role. 

Tip: the trick with these types is to make sure you cover all relevant areas, even if they are not asked about, but without sounding condescending.  You will also need be patient and answer questions that you may know are not directly relevant to the role.

Finally

Try not to view a job interview as an ordeal. Instead, try to see it as a challenge, and a chance to shine and show what you know.  Keep calm: if you are prepared and professional, the only other thing to remember is to be yourself.  Good luck.

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