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Interview Tips and Advice

The interviewer is looking to resolve a problem and thus, is in a purchasing mode. The interviewer needs to acquire the services of someone that is going to resolve that need. For you, this is a sales process; you have to know what the buying signals are and satisfy these by providing the product; you!

1) Researching the company

More than ever, clients will expect you to have researched the company prior to interview. Do more than just look at their website; use the major search engines.

This effort will prepare you for questions and help you to formulate your own, enable you to be aware of external industry issues and get a feeling for the culture of the company and industry. The more you know about the job and company prior to the interview the bigger your impact. The interviewer will be impressed with your diligence and enthusiasm, and naturally it reflects the thoroughness of your work. When possible mention that you have researched the company during interview by phrasing “when I was researching the company…”

2) Talking through your CV

During interview you must be able to précis and present your CV (and therefore your skills) to the interviewer in a concise, positive and comprehensive manner. Whilst doing this it is important to bear in mind that most interviewers will not have absorbed your skills entirely and that they are not always skilled interviewers. Accordingly the “standard interview” will involve a walk-through of your CV to date.

When you write something down and vocalise it you create a memory, albeit a small one. The more you say it the more you consolidate the memory pathway in your brain. When it comes to retrieval of that memory, you will be able to tap straight into that memory and repeat it. You will make fewer mistakes; you will make clearer statements and therefore appear more confident. You will lessen the amount of “ummm” or “eeerr” stalling interruptions and the “tip of the tongue” loss of words effect that always happens when you least need it!

3) Managing the Interview

The interview itself can be broken down into 4 key areas. You are being assessed in each.

Personal Presentation

Always check the dress code. Overdressing is forgivable, under presentation is much harder to recover from.

Introductions

Ensure a firm handshake and maintain positive eye contact again practice if need be. Make small talk on the way to the interview room, engage with the interviewer. Although there will be time to recover, first impressions still count for a lot.

During the interview

This is your chance to sell yourself, remember the interviewer wants to buy.

Maintain positive eye contact and body language. Eye contact and body language are important in helping to win the “emotional sale” and the ability to concentrate on presentation rather than content will help you. Although most of us are not aware of non-verbal indicators, interviewers will pick up on these when behaviours do not “feel right”. They are a subliminal message and if you have to think hard on formulating a response you may inadvertently be sending out the wrong signals to the interviewer, this will often distract from what you are saying.

Having pre-formed a series of answers and examples, you will reduce eye reflexes. To your interviewer this will make you seem more alert, quicker and more focused. It will also help keep them “involved” by being able to present more normal “conversational” body language

Closing the Interview

This can be hard, so take control:

If the interviewer has covered your prepared questions state that the interview was so comprehensive that it covered the questions you prepared previously. However, if there are more thoughts that come to light later can you call the interviewer. Ask “as I am here are there any areas that you still have concerns about that relate specifically to the role? Can we cover them now?” This gives you another chance to sell.

If the issue of salary arises it is always best to qualify that you are first and foremost looking for a position that satisfies your needs. You may need a challenge or a very progressive company, or one that places a great deal on customer service, quality and personal integrity.

Finally ask when you can expect a decision and what the next stages are.

4) Core Skills & Competencies

Draw on your experiences and strengths and deliver them in a form that relates them to the position. Write out your key skills and relate then to the job requirement. Then relate them to your experience and provide examples of where you demonstrated that skill.

Self-Assessment

Before you even begin the job hunting process, it is important to spend time assessing your skills, experience, strengths, limitations and personal preferences. Have a plan in your mind of what you want to do in the next year or 5 years and what you need to achieve to get there.

Skills

Begin by looking at your background and map out a profile of your key attributes and write them down. Don’t write an essay but select the key areas that reflect you, bullet point it or make a flow chart.

Know your 5 key skill attributes and identify the 2 or 3 main ones where development is needed. Turn these into adjectives that you can use to describe yourself. It will help you with which skills to emphasize in the course of the interview and which weaker areas will require some diplomacy.

Strengths & Competencies

As well as your skills the interviewer will be assessing you against core competencies they deem important to do the role. You should always ask for these competencies in advance so you can prepare examples of where you have demonstrated achieving them.

Highlight the strengths that appear high on both the skills and competency lists and prepare your presentation of them. It is also essential that you pay at least as much attention to those areas which appear low on your strengths list but high on the ‘required’ list for the new role. Do not be afraid to address these areas but treat them as areas where you recognise your need for additional exposure and development.

By using the techniques outlined above you will help yourself to present the correct balance of personal qualities, skills and competencies at interview. Getting this right will not only lead to you being delighted with your own performance but also ensure that you maximise your value in the eyes of those you are presenting to.