Coping With Interviews
You have an interview lined up for your ideal job, so what should you do next? Katie Williams suggests a number of important points to remember for when that all-important day arrives…
Is it what you really want?
Judith Verity, author of "Succeeding at Interviews", states that "a successful interview for the wrong job will lower your morale and waste everybody’s time in the long run". Therefore, before you even apply for an interview, make sure that it is the job you really want and that you’re going to enjoy. There is no point in turning up to an interview half-heartedly and cursing your parents because they are making you get off the couch and earn a living. Bridget Millmore, a careers adviser at Sussex University, says that researching the company is very important. "You have to know about the company so you are able to make connections with what you can offer that particular company. You must be able to project yourself into a role that shows enthusiasm for the company." Millmore recalls past interviews that she conducted to hire more careers advisers. She says that those who performed best were the candidates that did a mock presentation, as though they were talking to a number of students, and the way they dealt with a hypothetical question from one of the students. Being able to handle a practical element like that requires research into the particular company you are applying for so you are prepared.
Give a good first impression
You need to be enthusiastic and confident that you are the best person for the job. How you communicate is just as important as what you actually say. You need to make a positive impact so that you are remembered and compare favourably with other candidates. Dressing smartly, demonstrating positive body language, including open gestures and eye contact, and acting friendly by using a confident, clear voice, all immediately give a good impression to the employee before you even start speaking. Turning up promptly is another important issue surrounding interviews. Try to turn up 15 minutes before the interview is due to start and make sure you are wide-awake and prepared. Have a decent sleep the night before; don’t spend the night worrying about the outcome or about the interview itself.
Make sure you are prepared, have covered any practice questions that might come up, and stay calm. Typical questions that may arise include, "What do you want out of this job?" and "What do you have to offer?". By covering these either with friends and family, or perhaps in workshops that your university may offer, you will feel relaxed and more confident about the interview. Millmore thinks, when practising, it is always better if you say things out loud as it may sound different in your head. Read over your CV before attending the interview so you are able to expand on any points you have made, highlighting what you feel your strengths are and how you could apply these strengths to the job. BBC Radio One’s ‘One Life’ advises you to be prepared and suggests thinking of some good examples of your communication, decision making, customer service, planning and organisational skills. These could include how you are able to work in a group or what you would do if a difficult situation arose. Examples to show how you have dealt with a negative situation before can be positive as they highlight the fact that you have used that initiative previously and would not hesitate to use it again. Obviously, do not focus on negative aspects about yourself, but Millmore advises: "If you are able to learn from previous negative aspects and have done something to change them for the better then it is worth mentioning them."
Keep to the point
Interviews do not last all day, so make sure you are precise in your answers. There may be someone who is taking notes throughout your interview, but do not let this unnerve you. Simply make your answers brief, yet interesting, including the correct information, and use short, punchy statements. Also, avoid the temptation to talk too much. Even if there are a couple of awkward silences, don’t fill them with nervous chatter, as this is exactly how you will appear: nervous. It is also not advisable to lie or exaggerate in an interview, as Julie-Ann Amos, author of ‘Handling Tough Job Interviews’, says. "If you get the job, you then have to work at this particular organisation for some time. So lying, or trying to appear like someone other than yourself, is never a good idea".
Now it’s your turn
One Life believes that your interview is your one chance to shine and sell yourself, so you should not waste the opportunity. If you are not asked about something that you find important, raise the subject yourself. This will show you are conscientious and willing to offer even more to the job. At the end of the interview there is usually a chance to ask questions of your own, and this is not the time to say: "No it’s alright, I think we’ve covered everything". Jump in there with questions such as "What training do you offer?" and "What kind of opportunities are there for growth in this company?". However, there are some questions that are off limits, and these include queries about holidays, pay and benefits.