Six skills to take your job interview to the next level

Getting a positive response to a job application is always exciting, but for some, that excitement can quickly vanish when they’re reminded of what the second stage of the process entails: the interview.

Job interviews can be terrifying, but, as the old saying goes: fail to prepare, prepare to fail. If you do your homework, you can quickly shift your mentality towards an interview as something you have to endure to something that you actively enjoy.

But, with just days between the application and interview stage, how do you go from being A candidate to THE candidate? With this in mind, we’ve pulled together our top tips that should help you brush up on your interview skills and put yourself miles ahead of the competition.

Have you done your research?

How can you convey your interest in a company if you don’t know the first thing about it? Researching the company and the role you’re applying for will be a sure fire way to demonstrate your willingness for the job. The interviewer is almost certainly going to ask you why you want to work for them, so make sure you’ve got some key points in your arsenal.

If you know who will be interviewing you, check them out on the company’s website and on LinkedIn, too. You might find that you’re from the same town, studied at the same university, or have similar interests. If you can subtly weave these into the conversation and show your likeable human side, your interview will feel much more like a friendly meeting than a grilling!

Six skills to take your job interview to the next level

Image: Adobe Stock Library

How do you prepare for an interview?

Interview questions predominantly revolve around you, your past experience, and why you wish to move. Sounds simple, right? But a surprising number of people don’t answer these questions as eloquently as they could. Having pre prepared answers really helps, and will prevent any dreaded mind blanks or nervous ramblings.

Make a list of the most common questions to ask at an interview, (‘Tell me about yourself’, ‘Tell me about your current role and why you wish to leave’, ‘Why do you want to join us?’) as well as some that throw more of a curve ball (‘What are your weaknesses?’, ‘Why should we hire you personally?’) and think about how you’d answer each one. Write them down if it helps, and practice saying them out loud, too. If you’ve got a friend or partner that can give you feedback on your delivery, even better!

Some companies can be known for asking outrageous questions. Google once asked an applicant how many calories are in a supermarket, and applicants to Barclays have been asked to estimate how many cars there are in the UK. Whilst you can’t prepare for every question, when faced with slightly wackier ones like these, the interviewer is often trying to assess your sense of humour and how you problem solve.

It’s also a good idea to have some questions prepared for the interview, which you can either ask throughout the conversation as they naturally crop up, or at the end when the interviewer will no doubt ask you if you have any. This will help you to be perceived as eager for the job, and engaged in the interview.

Six skills to take your job interview to the next level

Image: Adobe Stock Library

Examples of your work

Whether you’re a developer, copywriter or engineer, bring examples of your work to the interview if you can. It might be a physical portfolio, displayed on a tablet, or even on your phone – whatever format it’s in, sharing demonstrative proof of your ability to do the job (before the interviewer asks for it) will put you miles ahead of other candidates. Having examples to discuss helps to ease the pressure off you, too, as momentarily, all eyes won’t be on you, they’ll be on your work!

The night before your interview

Make sure you’ve got your outfit ready, and make sure it’s appropriate for the role. If you’re unsure what fits the bill, why not ask the company’s HR team when responding to the invitation to interview?

This is also a good time to plan your journey in. Whether you’re driving and need to sort parking, are travelling between cities by train, or taking a short bus, make sure you know you’re plan of action so you don’t get stressed when the day arrives.

Finally, get a good night’s sleep! There’s no need to be nervous, and while it might seem like the be all and end all, other opportunities will come along.

On the day of your interview

Whilst you might know what you plan to say inside out, there are some non-verbal interview techniques that will set you apart as a knockout candidate, too. Make sure you smile, keep eye contact with the interviewer, and maintain good posture throughout. You can read our top tips on nonverbal interview skills here.

Once the interview has taken place, it’s always a good idea to send a courtesy email, thanking the interviewer for their time and following up on any actions or highlights.

Good luck! Try to enjoy it, and remember that no interview is ever perfect, so try and learn as much from the experience as you can so that you can improve your interview technique for the next one.

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