How to Excel at Interview

Friday, October 30, 2020

Everyone gets nervous before an interview, its entirely natural and some would say essential if that nervous energy is used to help you perform at your best. The key to preventing your nerves from undermining you is preparation. Here are a few tips to help you prepare to support your performance at interview;

1. Research: the company, the role, the hiring manager, other interviewers, the industry. Information is power and doing your research beforehand helps to fill in the blanks. Use Google, LinkedIn, Glassdoor etc. to inform yourself on what you can expect at interview, what the company is like to work in, hiring manager career history and any company or industry relevant news stories that might be top of mind for your interviewer.

2. Get in role; be sure you are interview-ready from the time you arrive in the building for the interview, including sitting in reception. Avoid sitting hunched over your phone, make eye contact and be approachable to those in the arrival area - people are watching.

3. Dress code; always dress a level up from the standard of the company you are interviewing with. Do not dress down and no not assume anything, check beforehand. If it is telephone-based, dressing as though it is in-person helps to ensure a professional mindset and tone.

4. Questions; the interview is to assess if a candidate can do the job. The questions they use to test your abilities can be competency based such as ‘tell me about a time when you dealt effectively with ambiguity’ or behavioural based ‘what would you do if’ scenario type questions. Be sure to have enough examples ready from your previous roles to evidence your experience. Prepare these in line with the role expectations (i.e. the skills and competencies specified in the job description). Ensure your example covers the situation, the action you took and the result that action achieved. These examples will serve to evidence your abilities.

5. Prepare questions of your own; have two questions prepared for the end of the interview. Relating them to something topical in the industry or company is useful and shows you have done your research. Or ask about what success looks like in the role or the career progression opportunities for this role.

6. Thank you note; send a follow up email to the interviewer(s), reinforcing your interest in the role, the key reasons you qualify for it and what you are most interested in or excited by the discussion. These notes do make an impact.

7. Breathe; take some deep breaths before entering the building or grounding exercises or see Amy Cuddy’s TED talk. These physical tricks can help calm nerves which helps our ability to listen and therefore answer effectively.