Interviews are one of those obstacles in life you would rather not do, however they are a necessary evil, so we have collated some of the top tips from the likes of Harvard Business Review and Forbes to help you master them:
Research The Company and Think About Questions
An interviewer won’t expect you to know everything, but they do assume you know what the company actually does. It’s one thing to know that Babylon Health is a Health focused company, another to know it connects patients and GP’s via an app.
Practice talking about yourself, and record yourself so you can listen back. This usually makes anyone’s skin crawl, but listening to your tone, volume, breathing and what you actually say can tell you a lot. You might think you sound convincing but shallow breathing due to nerves might be making you sound quiet and slightly distorted. You might also realise you frame everything in a negative way e.g. ”If you don’t do xyz it can really affect profit.”, instead try flipping this and saying “I did xyz to maintain and/or increase profit.”
Talk To Yourself In The Mirror
Looking at yourself as you speak might be equally as disturbing as recording yourself, but watch how you convey your message when you are speaking. It might be that when you are nervous you use your hands to express absolutely everything you say. Expression is good but too much movement might distract interviewers from what you are saying. This is also a good time to practice those question’s you are dreading. Practice answering these and practice what body language you use.
Practice Being Superman
Now if you watch, or have watched, Grey’s Anatomy you will know that in one episode (in Season 11 no less) Amelia Shepherd holds a Superman pose prior to a big surgery. She stands with her chest up and out, her chin up, her hands on her hips and her feet hip distance apart. We are happy to confirm that this actually does have benefits, and those who practice high-power posing, as it is known, are more likely to secure a job. If you don’t believe us check out the study by Harvard.
Bring A Folder With Your CV, A Pen And Paper
There is a two-fold advantage to this. The respective company already have your CV but that doesn’t mean the interviewer hasn’t misplaced, lost or forgotten to print off your CV. It happens, so if you happen to have a few copies of your CV on hand it not only might help them, but it also shows any interviewers that you are prepared. It also means you can take a last minute glance at your CV prior to the interview if you need a refresh on what specifics they might ask.
Treat Everyone On The Way In With Respect
We hope that you are already pleasant to everyone, but some people can get snappy when they are nervous so it’s worthwhile mentioning that you should treat everyone in the office with respect. People often forget that an office is a community, you might not care about what the random person by the photocopier on the way in has to say, but she or he might hold a lot of sway in the office for one reason or another, so show respect and kindness to everyone. This always pays forward in one way or another.
Crack Out Your Super Man
If you have been practicing your power posing it’s time to practice again. Find a moment in a quiet space (e.g. the bathroom), where you can hold your pose. If you have practiced it, it will build your confidence and ground you.
Firm Handshake, You Aren’t A Noodle
I don’t know anyone who likes a weak handshake. It will make people remember you for the wrong reason, so when you go to introduce yourself give a firm shake, not bone-crushing firm, but firm enough for them to know that you are there and you believe in yourself.
You likely have quite a few thoughts running through your brain at this point, such as “My hand isn’t a noodle.” but if you can, take a moment to repeat any interviewers names a few times in your head. Remembering their names means you can use their names either after the interview (see Post-Interview) or throughout the interview if it is appropriate to do so. And by appropriate we don’t mean talking to Karen the interviewer like she is your mum’s next door neighbour who comes over for a chin-wag.
Most individuals make some form of eye contact, but if you are nervous you might find you slip into a habit of not making eye-contact with your interviewer(s). Make sure you look up and at them every so often when you are speaking, especially if there are multiple interviewers and you are directing your response to one particular interviewer who asked the question. You might feel like your eyes give you away but it’s better to show nerves than to come across as someone who uses avoidance to tackle their nerves.
Old but gold - smile at your interviewer. A smile really does make an impression, and it needn’t be a massive over the top, in your face smile, it can just be a small smile which just shows that you are somewhat happy to be where you are.
Embrace The Nerves
Your palms are sweating, your chest is tight and your stomach is turning - you must be nervous right? Have you ever noticed that you get the same symptoms when you are excited? We usually assume that such symptoms mean we are nervous and as such we can start a spiral of negative self-talk e.g. “I will be doomed because all I can think of is my stomach flipping.”. Instead of letting your body take the reins think of such symptoms as your body pre-empting, not necessarily for anything dangerous, but pre-empting the need for a little more cognitive power and the need to be more alert, that is it. And even if during the interview your hands are shaky and your palms sweaty don’t condemn yourself, let yourself be nervous, steady your breathing, and think about your superman pose.
Be A STAR
When you are talking about yourself and giving examples and stories of how you solved certain problems, think about the following structure that Kenneth Johnson provides:
Situation - What was the situation that needed attention?
Task - What task did the situation create?
Action - How did you act on said task?
Result - What was the outcome of your action?
It’s good to be relaxed and talk naturally, but by keeping STAR in mind it will help you give some structure to your answers.
Ask questions, it’s your interview too
If you either thought of questions during your pre-interview research, or if one or two cropped up during the interview, now is the time to ask them. It’s your interview too, so look at it as a chance to find out if you really do like the company. It’s worthwhile noting here that the reason for asking matters. If you are asking how many holiday days you get or what their policy is for leaving early, unless you have a legitimate reason such as “I need to pick up my daughter from school” or similar, it could imply to the company that you won’t care about the role.
End On A High
As you say your goodbyes be sure to thank them and if you enjoyed the interview say so. It’s always nice to hear “Thank you for your time, I really enjoyed meeting you all.”
Send A Thank You
That late afternoon or evening, depending on when your interview was, be sure to send a thank you email to your point of contact at the company, even if it wasn’t them who interviewed you. A simple thank you mentioning how nice it was to meet xyz (do you remember their names?!), can go a long way to creating lasting impression of you.
If a few days have passed and the company haven’t got back to you and they said they would, it‘s worthwhile sending an email following-up. Avoid asking them “When will I hear?” but rather say how you are looking forward to hearing any response they may have.