There are countless books, websites and how-to guides that cover best practices, tutorials and mock interview scenarios in detail, and there are just too many variables to offer comprehensive notes on how to respond to specific interview questions. Instead, I thought I’d provide my top 5 tips for how to conduct a winning interview:
- Perhaps an obvious one, but be sure to do your homework. Spend enough time researching and reading-up about the company so you can reference specific pieces of information uncovered during the interview. The company press pages, social media channels and their YouTube videos are great resources for better understanding what’s happening with the business.
- Think about why you want the job, what interests you about the company and what value you can add if you were appointed in to the role? The hiring manager wants to know how you’re going to make their life easier, so help them better assess the contribution you could make to the team. Remember it’s not just about you, it’s about what’s in it for them.
- Be enthusiastic, show genuine interest in the person interviewing you and demonstrate your skills and knowledge with narrative examples that will make you memorable. Show the quality of your ideas and the thinking behind them. Listen carefully to what they say, as many interviewers inadvertently give away clues that you can then mimic in your answers.
- Have some questions prepared to ask the interviewer, as this shows interest and intent. If you run out of time, ask if you can do a follow-up over email, which offers another opportunity to better connect with your potential employer. Seize any chance you can get to be the candidate that is top of mind.
- Be yourself. Anything else is just false economy, and you’ll eventually be exposed anyway. Relax, take plenty of time to prepare, and travel in good time for face-to-face meetings. Don’t forget to smile. Even during phone interviews, it’s amazing the difference a friendly disposition can make on lasting impressions.
As with most things in life, the hiring process is all about survival of the fittest, and there can only be one winner. Optimism aside, my advice is to always be prepared for rejection as it can be a really bitter pill to swallow – if and when it happens. You can be on top form, nail every single interview question, have glowing references and still walk away without an offer. The more you interview, the more adept you’ll become at reading the signs, gauging your chances of success as the process develops.
I wish there was some magic formula that could give you an indication of the odds, but the reality is, for every instance where you triumph, the chances are you’ll have applied for dozens of similar vacancies. The healthiest approach you can take is not to dwell on it too much, as contrary to what you may have been told on the day, hiring managers rarely divulge the real reasons for your rejection.
Buried amidst all that disappointment however, is always a lesson to be learnt. Identify what that is, reconcile how you’d deal with the situation under different circumstances, and then bounce back from the experience with renewed enthusiasm and confidence. Good luck, and see you on the other side.