Does anyone like going for an interview? I have a couple of friends who absolutely dread them. They are always uncertain as to what they should or should not say and feel like they are not prepared enough. Interviews can be tricky, and if you have been looking for a job for a while, they can also be very demoralizing. It is hard to keep the enthusiasm levels up after a few rejections. You can feel like one wrong word and you have blown your chances. So, let me share some simple tips to help you to increase your chances of making a good impression.
Research the company and interviewer
Let’s start at the beginning. Research the company you are going to interview with. This may seem obvious, but you will be amazed at how few people do this properly. Go on to their website and look at their “about us” section. Companies want to feel that you really want to work there. They don’t want to hire someone who is just looking for a job. They want to feel like the person they hire, is driven to work for the firm, because they feel it’s a great place to be. They worry that if you don’t show a high level of interest, you may not stay with them for the long term. Do not just focus on the area of the business you will be working in either, look at the whole group and prepare some questions around how the division you would be working in, ties into the bigger picture.
The second piece of research you need to do, is on the interviewer. This can feel a little creepy to some, but hey you want that job, right?! Go on to LinkedIn and have a look at their profile. See if you have any mutual connections that you could then reach out to and gather some intel. Maybe you went to the same university or worked at the same company but at different times. The more you know, the quicker you can build rapport with them. If you want to go to the next level, see if you can find them on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook (do not send them a request or follow them on those platforms). If you know your interviewer is a big fan of a sport, or likes baking or certain types of food, or some other interest, you have a perfect icebreaker to work in to a conversation – without letting them know you stalked them online obviously!
Do you know where the office or interview is due to take place? I am not joking, have you looked this up in advance? How long is the commute to the location? Have you been to that part of town before? Do you have any idea if there is traffic at that time of day? If it’s a meeting at an external venue like a coffee shop in a mall, do you know which floor the coffee shop is on? These may all seem basic but not being able to find the place (even if it is hard to find!) does not provide an interviewer with a good impression. It makes you seem unorganized.
Be on time!
When it comes to the actual interview, make sure you are on time. Being on time, means getting there early. You should arrive at the venue at least 10-15 mins before the interview starts. This is important for two reasons. The first, is that it shows you are punctual and organized. The second is that it gives you time to compose yourself. If you are in a rush, and flustered as a result, you are not going to come across as well as you could. By getting there early, having time to sit down and compose yourself, you are going to be a lot calmer in the interview and make a better impression.
Assume the interviewer knows nothing
You should also assume that the interviewer knows absolutely nothing about you or your experience. Over the course of my career, I have lost count of how many interviewers I know that have gone into an interview having never read the CV of the person. Even worse some have gone in without knowing the name of the person they were meeting. Walk the interviewer through everything in as much detail as possible. It is better to over explain and talk too much, than provide short answers and miss out some details. You may assume that something is so obvious, you do not need to explain it. Do not make that mistake. If you do not explain that you have done something, the interviewer will likely assume you have not done it.
Provide specific examples
Finally, always make sure that you provide full examples when you answer questions. If they ask you typical interview questions like “How do you deal with pressure?”, provide a specific example of when you dealt with pressure. Providing specific examples gives the interviewer comfort that you have done this before. Without a specific example, they will always wonder how accurate or truthful your answer is.