Top tips for a successful interview

If you are looking for a career change, interviewing well is an essential skill. But what kind of preparation should you do before the big day? And how do you ensure that your nerves don’t get in the way of your perfect job? Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Successful interview

Research the company and industry

There is no better way to show a keen interest in a company than gaining lots of relevant industry knowledge. Visit the company’s website for an overall understanding of the heritage, structure, and current press releases. You can also look at news websites for an overview of any exciting developments that are in the pipeline for that particular industry. But beware of ‘fake news’ and only use reliable sources; you won’t make a great impression but quoting the latest gossip about the company’s CEO.

Practice your answers

There are common interview questions that you should prepare for (see Monster job site article ).

Give yourself plenty of time in the week before the interview to familiarise yourself with your answers to these questions. Also spend time looking at the job description and matching it to your existing skills you have gained from your employment history. Linking back an experience of doing a part of the job sounds far more credible than just saying that you have the skills.

Dress the part

Back when I worked for a top recruitment agency, we would advise all candidates to go to job interviews ‘suited and booted’, but times have changed. Dressing the part for an interview depends on the role and environment you will be working in. The trick to decide on what to wear to interview is to use your common sense. What would you be required to wear on a daily basis in that role? Have a look on the company’s about page, or the employees LinkedIn profiles. If undecided aim for smart and sophisticated. Always ensure that clothes are clean and tidy, and the same with hair and nails.

Staying calm

An essential part of keeping the nerves at bay is allowing yourself plenty of time to arrive at the interview. If it’s a route you are unfamiliar with, a visit beforehand may well be advantageous. At a stressful time the body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode, and whilst this stress can be seriously damaging to your body on a long term basis, it can be beneficial during an interview. Extra oxygen sent to the brain makes you more alert and your senses sharper, as well as experiencing the ‘flow’ a state of consciousness discovered by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly in which those under stress become “strong, alert, in effortless control, not self-conscious, and at the peak of their abilities." So practice the confidence power poses (watch Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talks for more details) , use breathing to keep in the moment, and ask if you don’t understand a question. All should help portray the in control persona that you need for your new role.

Anticipate objections from your employer

Skills and experience are usually categorised into two lists on a job specification, essential and desirable. Having all the necessary skills can be the difference between getting the job and not getting it, but if you not have all the experience you feel you should, bring it into the open during your chance to ask questions. Tactfully pointing out that you may not have that qualification, but you are currently looking to enrol on a course to gain it, could give you additional brownie points when it comes to the decision time. Likewise explaining work relevant experience that would be covered by a specific qualification, can give you the edge over an inexperienced but qualified competitor.

The interview process hasn’t quite finished at the end of the interview. Finish by thanking the interviewer, and use this opportunity to reiterate your interest in the position. Follow up with a thank you email, and use this to include any details you forgot to mention in the interview.

Remember that practice makes perfect, so if you didn’t get this job, consider the process a learning experience. Every interview you have creates more experience and prepares you for success.

Lucie Cullen Success Coach

Based in North Devon, covering the UK via Skype and Zoom, I am an experienced coach who specialises in assisting career changes, CV makeovers and the creator of Goal Mapping for Life, a workshop designed to discover and harness people's aspirations and plan a pathway to success.

To book a 20 minute FREE Discovery call contact me.