Employment expert and author Oni Bhattacharya gives us his top tips to help you stand out during the interview process. According to Oni, preparation is key.
For candidates looking for work, the interview process is seen as a daunting prospect. People fear and loathe them instead of embracing and celebrating them as a positive experience.
If you’ve made it through to the interview the employer thinks you can do the job based on what you’ve told them in your cover letter, CV or application form. So you have done something right and have persuaded them that you are worth seeing.
Your job now is to convince them you are the right candidate. They’re looking for someone who will fit into their organisation and add value to it. So you need to be well prepared before the interview.
As soon as you walk into the building where the interview is taking place you are being judged. Be aware staff may be looking at you and might have a say on your employment prospects.
When you go in for the interview, first impressions count. You have just three seconds. So go in smiling, shake hands confidently and make good eye contact with the interviewer(s).
Body language is also something you need to get right. Make sure when you sit down your feet are shoulder width apart your back is straight and you can use your hands to gesture. This is a power position that will help you be more confident when answering questions.
The first thing you will probably be asked is to tell them about yourself. You need to start at your most recent job and work backwards explaining what you did and your role.
They’re only really interested in the last 6-10 years. If it’s your first real job you need to highlight your skills and what you can offer the organisation.
Make sure you have researched the company and know something about them and what they do. You don’t need to know everything, but enough to answer a question lasting 40-50 seconds.
The employer has only seen your CV or application form and wants to know more about you and what you’ve done. If you said you were good at something back it up with real examples from your working or student life.
When answering questions speak slowly and clearly. If you don’t understand a question repeat it back and buy yourself a little time. If you still don’t understand ask the question to be asked another way.
One area you might be asked about is about your weaknesses. You must have an answer to this. It doesn’t have to be major. Choose something that you are working on to improve.
During interviews there is currently a vogue to ask random questions such as ‘if you were a colour what would you be and why?’ These test your ability to think on your feet so be ready for this.
The key question or one you need may need to answer is, ‘Give me a reason to employ you? What sets you apart from other candidates?’ This is a make or break question that could determine if you get the job or not.
The aim is to be memorable. Your answer has to reflect you and also strike a chord with the interviewer(s) so that they remember you after you’ve left the room and they’re reviewing other candidates.
Being likeable is also a key factor. Employers aren’t just looking for qualifications. They want people they like and can work with. They have to see you in the organisation as part of their team, so sharing things in common with them is very important.
You also need to know what type of interview you are going into. If it’s one-to-one, do all the above. If there’s more than one interviewer, you need to make eye contact and address them all.
You do this by looking at each one between the eyes for ten seconds and then moving on as you speak.
If it’s a competency based interview they are looking for specific skills and you will need to answer questions with real examples.
The best way is using the STAR technique. That’s the Situation you were in, the Task you undertook, the Action taken and the Result highlighting your role in it.
Group interviews are popular now and put you together with other candidates. You may be asked to complete tasks or come up with ideas. You’ll be observed throughout and they are looking for the ability to work as part of a team and getting your ideas across.
Near the end make sure you have a few questions to ask. They should veer away from holidays, pensions and salary. Focus more on training, prospects and promotion.
On a final note, make sure you rehearse and practice what you will say. Interviews are a performance, you need to get it right.
You wouldn’t go into an exam without revision, so ensure you have the answers ready in your head before being asked and be able to deliver them when needed.
Putting all this together gives you a blueprint for interview success and to get that all important job.
Oni Bhattacharya is a leading UK Employability Trainer and the author of the book ‘The Jobhunting Toolkit’ How to Find The Perfect Job in Tough Times: http://amzn.to/1ENyl64