You've crafted the perfect CV and cover letter and now you've managed to land a job interview. Congratulations!
But having got this far in the journey towards progressing your career, you're probably stressing about your upcoming interview and the kind of questions you might get asked.
Well, don't panic! Here are my top tips to nail it:
It sounds basic but being late for a job interview is often an instant fail. Plan your journey meticulously and aim to arrive 15 minutes before the interview is due to start so you'll have a chance to compose yourself, collect your thoughts and do a bit of deep breathing to calm down. If the gods of time and traffic still conspire against you, then call ahead to say that you may be late and explain why.
Look the part
Again this is basic, but very important. Generally speaking, unless you're applying for a job in tech or at a start-up where casual dress is de rigueur, it's a good idea to be as smart as possible. And even now, that means a suit and tie for men, and a business suit, skirt and blouse or smart dress for women. It's always better to be too smart than too casual.
Every interviewer will ask what you know about their company so hammer Google hard beforehand. In the weeks before, read publications relevant to the industry, as well as all the company's social media platforms. You need to be able to discuss the industry and job at hand with thought and depth so do as much research as is humanly possible. Take a deep breath and think before answering any question and don't waffle! Be precise, specific and use examples whenever you can. Make sure you sound intelligent, thoughtful and interested.
Nobody likes a bragger, but don't sell yourself short either. When talking about your accomplishments, be sure to mention the positive impact you have made in previous companies, particularly if you can detail any impact to the bottom line and use actual examples, but keep it relevant to the role.
Be sure that you are able to back up everything you say with an example - interviewers want hear about specific occasions when you used certain skills to overcome a challenge. Learn the STAR technique which I talk about here.
When asked about your previous positions, speak respectfully. You'll make a really bad impression if you bang on about how little you were appreciated, how everyone hated the boss and the company was rubbish.
Don't just say whatever it is you think the interviewer wants to hear. If they ask you where you see yourself in five years time for example, answer truthfully.
You'll most likely be asked to state your weaknesses as well as your strengths. If you have to talk about a negative area, put a positive spin on it, e.g. "I used to struggle with blank aspect of my work, but through recognising the issue and working to overcome it through training, focus and commitment, I feel confident that this is now becoming a strength."
Asking good questions at interview is a perfect opportunity for you to demonstrate your intelligence, ability to think strategically and show your enthusiasm for the role.
An interview is also your chance to find out about the company and whether it's the right fit for you. Remember interviews are a two-way process. If you ask the right questions you should know by the end of the interview if the role is what you're ideally looking for.
Focus your questions around areas that show you have a real interest in growing and progressing with the company. Ask the interviewer why the position has become available, how they think you'll add most value to the team and where they think you'll have most impact. It's also a good idea to show how interested you are in the role by asking them to detail what you'd be doing within the first couple of months in role, and how the company encourages employees to develop.
It is also the opportunity to demonstrate that you have done your homework, researched the company, looked into their market and the environment that they operate in.
Choose questions which will show you have initiative and highlight your understanding of the role, the industry and your passion for the job.
Don't ask about the salary, hours of work or benefits at the first interview, don't ask anything too personal and avoid asking any question that shows you haven't properly done your research about the company.
Try not to be nervous and allow your personality shine through. Tell the interviewer exactly why you are the right person for the job.
Wrap it up
It's a good idea to finish an interview by showing your keenness and asking: "Are you happy that I have covered everything? Can I provide any more detail?"
Then lastly, "If I'm successful today, what are the next steps?"
And finally, good luck!