Mentally prepare yourself
Start by putting the interview in perspective. Everyone gets nervous, even the interviewer. Some nerves are good but keeping perspective stops stress getting the better of you.
Interviews are intended to be two-way meetings – letting you know about the company and position applied for and letting the company know about you and your skills and expertise.
Most first interviews will cover two areas – general questions which will give you the opportunity to talk freely about your experience and walk through your CV and competency questions which will be more structured.
See our Competency Interview section for more information.
Preparation is Key – 12 easy to follow tips to help you
- Read the job and person spec thoroughly – multiple times! This will really stand you in good stead. If you can understand what is important to the company you can prepare strong answers that highlight your suitability for the job (eg. company have indicated they need someone with extensive budgeting and forecasting experience – prepare answers that can demonstrate you have this expertise).
- Read your current CV – again, multiple times! Be familiar with it as this is used by the interviewer to navigate through your career to date. Ensure your answers tie into what you’ve written on your CV.
- Be open-minded and don’t assume anything – the interviewer may not have read your CV cover to cover so make sure when answering their questions you include all the relevant detail and practical examples.
- Research the company – find out about the hiring organisation (eg. competitors, customers, market). Imagine you work for this business – how could you add value to them as your employer and build your points into your answers during interview.
- Make sure you know where you are going and who you are meeting.
- First impressions count. Be sure to smile, be well groomed and always give a firm handshake. Too tight a grip is as off putting as a limp handshake.
- Wait to ask to be seated and sit well back in the chair with your shoulders relaxed and your hands clasped on your lap. Try not to slouch or fidget.
- Maintain good eye contact but don’t stare. If there is more than one person in the interview try and include them using your eyes when you answer questions.
- Go to every interview as if you want the job. It’s far better to be offered and decline than not do yourself the courtesy of being your best.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat the question if you are stuck. Some interviewers will ask difficult questions just to see how you react under pressure. Stay focused and try not to go off the subject.
- Have a couple of questions prepared. You will be invited to ask some questions before the interview concludes more than likely. One example could be: ‘I have really enjoyed meeting you today and I hope I have outlined my experience well, is there anything you feel I haven’t covered?’
- Remember to close – thank the interviewer for their time and reaffirm your interest in the role.