It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous when attending an interview. You can be proactive in alleviating much of this pressure by preparing thoroughly with our interview advice.
Cramming information whilst traveling to an interview or whilst sat in reception waiting for the interview to start is only going to hamper your performance. If you follow our structured advice below, you will be much better prepared to answer difficult questions, allowing your personality to shine through.
Before the interview
Research the organisation and take note of recent news articles. You’re likely to be asked what you know about the company or why you want to work for that organisation. Being prepared with an answer that references up to date information shows genuine passion and interest.
For all online interviews, ensure you have a good internet connection and that you are familiar with the platform being used (Teams, Zoom, Webex, etc.)
Use LinkedIn to take a look at who you are meeting. This is common practice now, so don’t worry about showing up as having viewed their profile, it’s expected and shows initiative
Take time to fully understand the job description. Make sure you have a list of questions regarding specific responsibilities. Asking searching questions about the role during the interview can demonstrate your enthusiasm and also allows you to determine if it’s suitable for you
Know your personal/professional strengths and weaknesses. These are standard questions and you need to be concise and considered in your response
You will most likely be asked why you are leaving your current role. Think carefully about this and be constructive in your response; it is important not to criticise your previous employers.
During the interview:
Dress smartly, and make sure you are well groomed. Appearance is extremely important when making first impressions
Try to arrive around 15 minutes early
Smile and make eye contact when introducing yourself and be friendly to everyone you meet
Be attentive and contribute to the conversation
Make sure you are answering the question you were asked. Getting sidetracked demonstrates a lack of focus. If relevant, use examples from your experiences to support your answers.
From the minute you walk in, to the moment you say goodbye, your body language will be under observation. Make sure you avoid crossing your arms or taking on a defensive posture.
Maintain regular eye contact with the person that asks the question; if it’s a panel interview make sure you address each person
Be clear, confident and concise in your answers. Get to the point quickly and avoid talking about skills and experiences that aren’t relevant.
If you are offered a drink, accept it. You may not want it at the time but you’ll be surprised at how quickly you get thirsty when answering questions. A glass of water can also act as a useful stalling tool when you need a moment to think.
Asking questions about the role, the team, the company culture, and future opportunities demonstrates that you are genuinely interested
Most importantly, be yourself
After the interview:
Remember to have an effective ‘close’. Gain commitment from the prospective employer on the next steps and don’t be afraid to ask if they have any concerns or reservations about progressing your application.
If you still have unanswered questions or if the interviewer ran out of time, a concise email (sent via the recruitment consultant) detailing relevant questions can often convey a real interest in the role and team.
Conversations regarding financial and benefits packages can often be more diplomatically managed by your recruitment consultant as they can remain objective in any negotiation.
HR interviews typically include a set of competency-based questions. These are designed
to find out the ‘who, what, why, where, how and when’ of your achievements as opposed to just the
Listed below are example questions set against specific competencies. Think through how you would approach these or similar questions in an interview. If you struggle to answer any of them, further preparation is essential.
One of the major reasons candidates fail to secure employment is poor performance during competency-based interviewing. Interviewers want to hear what you actually delivered / sold / designed / managed, and NOT what other team members did. In other words, it’s time to blow your own trumpet – don’t be shy about discussing your achievements.
If you struggle to quickly think of relevant and full responses to any of the questions below, you need to seriously consider investing more time in preparation.
Describe a time when you altered your own behaviour to fit the situation.
Give an example of how you provided service to a client beyond their expectations. How did you identify the need? How did you respond?
Tell me about a time when you really had to pay attention to what someone else was saying, actively seeking to understand their message.
Describe the culture of your organisation and give an example of how you work within this culture to achieve a goal.
Planning and Prioritising
Provide me with an example of a time when you made a significant impact on the direction of the organisation / led on the development of a strategy.
Problem Solving and Judgment
Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a problem or make a decision that required careful thought. What did you do?
Tell me about a time when you improved the results by altering daily activities /standard procedures.
Describe a situation where you were successful in getting people to work together effectively.
Describe a time when you provided feedback to someone about their performance.
Impact and Influence
Describe a recent situation in which you convinced an individual or a group to do something.
Tell me about a time when you identified a new, unusual or different approach for addressing a problem or task.
Tell me about a time when you had to lead a group to achieve an objective.
Give me an example of a time when you deliberately attempted to build rapport with a co-worker or customer.
Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a particular resource management issue regarding people, materials or assets.
Describe the level of stress in your job and what you do to manage it.
Strategic Thinking / Strategy
Describe a time when you used your business knowledge to understand a specific business situation.