How to give a great interview – before, during and after

Does the word ‘interview’ make your palms sweat? You are not alone! In fact, the very thought of an interview can conjures up nerves and anxiety for many people. The good news is that help is close to hand – these interview tips from Sandra Hill, Managing Director at Page Personnel, are all you need to prepare and deliver an impressive interview.

BEFORE

Do your research

There is no excuse for not knowing your stuff when you are going into an interview – and it isn’t that hard a task. Doing simple desk research into what products/services the business sells, the markets it trades in and having an idea of its overall strategy can go a long way to showing you are interested in the job and are willing to learn. Take time to familiarise yourself with the company’s website and try to look up your interviewers on the company websites or LinkedIn – this will help you put a face to a name and ensure that you have a clearer idea of what they might be looking for. What are their interests? What are their responsibilities at the business?

Social media

In the same way that you should research the company; you should expect that those interviewing you will most likely be doing the exact same thing to you. With this in mind, make sure that your social media channels have the appropriate privacy settings on them – do you really want an employer seeing that picture of you? Or that conversation you had with your friend last week?

Dress to impress 

Don’t be afraid to ask ahead about the dress code of the company – there is such a thing as being overdressed. If they operate a policy of smart/casual, for example, and you arrive looking too formal, they may get the impression that you are the wrong fit for the company and its ethos. That said, if you are unsure in any way, it’s always best to go for smart over casual.  

Practise makes perfect

As the famous saying goes, practise makes perfect – and it really does! Take time to stand in front of a mirror and imagine you’re in the interview room. Talk to yourself about your key skills, qualities and previous experience. In an interview situation, real life examples are vital so be prepared to provide three or four different examples/situations that demonstrate the skill sets you are claiming – maybe from school, or a club you are a member of? 

Getting there

It may sound obvious but it is really important to figure out exactly how you’ll get to the interview, ahead of time. The last thing that you want is to be late. Make sure you leave plenty of time to get to the interview, and if you are running late, don’t be afraid to call so they know when to expect you. 

DURING

Don’t panic

Nerves aren’t always a bad thing, when channelled in the right way they can actually help you. So long as you have done all you can in the lead up to the interview, try to be calm and reassure yourself that this is just a conversation not an interrogation. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you – do you want to work there? Are you interested in what they do? Top tip - slowing your breathing can be really effective in making you feel calmer.

Make a good first impression

Confidence is key. When you greet your interviewer a firm handshake and eye contact is important. At first, this can be difficult, but the trick is to try and relax your body and avoid looking standoffish (i.e. don’t cross your arms). If it’s an interview with a couple of different people then don’t just stare at one of them. When it comes to answering questions about a particular quality or skill you have, a great technique to remember is called STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Result). Making sure you mention each of these things will ensure you show off your skillset with examples.

Ask questions

When it’s all over, don’t be afraid to ask questions, it shows the interviewer that you are someone who is genuinely interested in the role and can think on their feet. Plus you can show off all your research!

AFTER

What did they think?

It usually takes the interviewers a couple of weeks to make a decision, but that all depends on how many people they have been speaking to. Regardless of the outcome, you should always ask for feedback from the interviewer (especially if it was unsuccessful) so that you know where to improve for the next interview. 

Careers, LifeWeb editor