It is all well and good being able to write the perfect CV and cover letter, but how do you fair in a face-to-face interview situation? The purpose of an interview is to allow a potential employer to get to know you and evaluate whether you are suitable for the job in a more personal setting. You can therefore expect to be asked questions about why you should be hired for the role, but also be able to talk a little about yourself and your interests.
In a world where the email is king and one-to-one interactions are becoming few and far between (you can do your supermarket shopping without having to speak to a single member of staff), the art of conversation is dying. People have forgotten how to talk to each other, and this is a very important skill when it comes to the job interview.
A job interview is a two-way street. If a recruiter is asking you questions about yourself, you need to be able to respond accordingly. One-word answers won’t cut the mustard. This is the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful candidate. Successful candidates will be able to determine the correct length and required content of their answers in order to present themselves in the best possible light. And first impressions count. You only have a limited time in a job interview, so use it wisely.
So, what can you do to prepare for a conversation in a job interview setting? As they say, practice makes perfect, so why not try talking to a friend about yourself? What are your strengths? What do you like to do in your spare time? You could even practise at home in front of a mirror or ask someone to record you. You will soon learn what you need to work on!
A potential employer would be keen to learn about your recent charity work but does not want to know about what you had for breakfast! If you are nervous, you are more likely to go off topic, so it’s a good idea to have up your sleeve a few talking points to weave into the conversation. After all, there’s nothing worse than being asked an open-ended question and find you have absolutely nothing to say.
Also consider your tone. You don’t want to sound too familiar, unfriendly or abrupt. There is a fine line. If you take your interviewer’s lead, you will soon be able to establish whether they wish to conduct the interview in a formal manner, or whether humour may be permitted. The key is to maintain eye contact and don’t be afraid to smile and be yourself. The more relaxed you feel, the more confident you will appear. Admittedly, confidence is something that comes with the more interviews you do. However, in the same breath, you don’t want to seem over-confident.
If you are applying for a particular role, you need to know what the job entails, so do your homework and make sure that you have answers for all the usual questions you are likely to be asked. What made you apply for this job? What’s your skillset? Why are you suited to this role? As the interview conversation is a two-way exchange, you will also be expected to ask your potential employer questions. You will usually be given the opportunity at the end of the interview, so it’s wise to prepare a few questions about the job or the company. If you fail to ask any questions, you could come across as disinterested.
A recruiter is likely to be conducting a series of interviews for a single position, so it’s essential that you stand out from the crowd, not just in the interview conversation, but from the moment you walk into the room. Ensure you are dressed appropriately and standing with your shoulders back. Be prepared to introduce yourself and enter into a handshake. This is your first opportunity to make an impression, so make sure it counts! They say that people form an opinion about you within the first minute of meeting, so this is your chance to present yourself positively.
Finally, having made sure your shirt is ironed and done all your interview preparation, the best advice you will receive is to try and get a good night’s sleep. If you feel fresh and arrive at your interview with a few minutes to spare, you are more likely to impress. So, all that’s left for you is to secure your perfect job. Good luck!