Interviews are both an art and a science.
Success boils down to:
Preparation, first impressions, Q&A and finishing strong.
Let's look into part 3 of 4 Q&A and top tips for proactive job seekers.
Ask questions about the opportunity and what the person or panel are looking for in terms of skills and experience. The more you understand about the needs of your interviewer/s the easier it becomes to select the right examples and responses from your experience. The Q&A is all about them understanding you, you understanding them and how well everything fits together. It's a small window and performing well is a skill in itself. Read on for more support but remember two very important things 1) interviewers want to like the people they hire so be genuine and build rapport 2) bring your best self to each and every interview regardless of whatever else might be going on, be mindful about it.
- If you're offered water at the start of the interview, accept it. Taking a sip is a great way to press pause if you need a few extra seconds to think of an answer.
- Have a notepad and pen with you but avoid breaking eye contact with your interviewer/s to write unnecessarily. When you're writing you're not listening and that's a problem.
- Only look at your CV if you need to refer to something directly, you shouldn't need it to explain your work history.
Top Tip: Take minimal notes but go straight to a coffee shop immediately after to put pen to paper. It's more important to be present and connected with your interviewer/s but the notes will come in handy if you're invited to the next stage.
- Be prepared for a competency based interview, I've written a separate guide for you which covers this specific style in much more detail.
- Informal interviews are great, when you're more relaxed your true colours shine through, just don't relax too much! It's always an interview even if it's in an informal setting and feels less Q&A more chit chat.
- Hybrid interviews are very common. Often with a series of open, general questions to get the conversation started and allowing for more fluid natural dialogue. Moving on to some more direct and carefully selected competency questions to assess specific areas.
Top tip: pay attention to the interview style and adapt accordingly. Listen and look for clues from your interviewer as to their expectations, be aware they might speed up or slow down at different points in the allocated time so stay with them.
- If you find yourself under performing; waffling, going off track or feel incredibly nervous don't just keep going. Honestly, the best thing to do is to stop, breath and explain. Interviewers expect some nerves, it's all perfectly normal and you won't be judged for it but they will be interested in how you manage it.
- If you respond to a question and realise later what you said totally missed the point, don't panic or assume the worst. If the interview has moved on don't worry, it's perfectly fine to address this at the very end, self awareness is a positive attribute.
Top tip: if you mess up a good trusty old remedy is to laugh at yourself, diffuse the weird funky tension and then have another stab at answering the question.
Interview like a pro
- Don't expect your interviewer to accept you at face value, be prepared to back everything up with evidence and specific details.
- Answer each question to the best of your ability but don't get hung up at any point. It's imperative that you listen. Keep the inner chatter at bay and pay close attention to what's happening in the room.
- Keep your energy consistent throughout, long interviews can feel draining so consciously keep your energy levels up. Don't be a rocket at the start and a fizzled fire cracker at the end.
Top tip: how you show up, what you say and how you say it sends a strong message. Either, interested, disinterested or half hearted. This is just as important as your carefully constructed answers.
- I know right.....urgh! But they happen so let's deal with that and move on.
- I've written a separate guide with 6 challenging questions and how best to answer them. This guide will give you a feel for the methodology that can be applied to most difficult questions.
- Sometimes it's the answer that's important, other times the focus might be on how you perform under pressure.
Top top: it's OK to take a little thinking time. This is when that glass of water really comes in handy. Take a slow sip and look away while you're thinking to create a little space.
- The secret to handling objections at interview is to anticipate them in the first place, you've already covered this during Interview Alchemy: Preparation.
- It's far better to expect objections and acknowledge that it's just another phase in the process than to try to dodge them or put your head in the sand.
- An objection isn't a challenge or rejection, be mindful that you don't come across as defensive or aggressive.
- If there's a question you're hoping doesn't come up at interview avoidance can potentially have a negative impact. Unspoken objections are way more damaging than the ones raised during your conversation. Simply because you can't do anything to address it.
- If there's an elephant in the room, take a pro-active approach, name it and address it.
Top Tip: If you choose to view objections as a request for more information it feels less confrontational. See it as an opportunity to expand on your answers and sell yourself all over again.
Do you have any questions?
- If you didn't answer 'yes' then we've got a problem!
- An interview is a two way street. This is your opportunity to get a better understanding and feel for the position. If you're listening and asking qualifying questions you should come away able to assess if it's right for you.
- Prepare thoughtful questions in advance for the end of the interview.
- Ask questions about the role and organisation, the negotiation and practicalities can all be worked out at a later stage. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your interest and professionalism.
Top tip: prepare a long list of questions and write them out in order of importance. You'll get lots of answers during the interview so you want to ensure that you still have valuable questions when you get to this point.
The good news is the finishing line is in sight, yippee! The bad news is, you can still potentially stick a pin in and burst the success bubble. Let's not do that, you've come too far. Let's head over to Interview Alchemy: Finishing Strong and bring this thing home.