No one is born with great interview skills. Highly effective interviewees develop their skills through practice and preparation. One of the keys to success is to know what things to prepare before the interview. Failure to know what to focus on before the interview, often leads to people preparing the wrong things. This can actually harm your performance. The following checklist has been designed to put you on the right track – good luck!
1. Preparing your answers. The key to preparation is knowing that all employers want to know the following key things about you:
• Do you have the skills, knowledge and experience to do the job?
• Are you the sort of person they can work with? In other words, what sort of person are you like at work?
• What are your motivation levels like? What are your motivators and de-motivators?
Preparing answers to these three questions means that you will be able to answer virtually any question put to you! No more having to wade through hundreds of practice questions.
2. When preparing your answers do not just focus on the specific skills that relate to the job you’re going for. You must also prepare answers to the generic competencies. These include: Planning and organising skills, communication skills, customer service skills, team work, coping with change and conflict resolution skills.
3. When possible send a positive letter confirming the interview and how much you’re looking forward to it – this will make you stand out.
4. Rehearse your answers out aloud before the interview – it’s one thing to know what to say quite another to say it fluently. Remember: how you say things at an interview is just as important as what you say.
5. Prepare specific examples of what you’ve achieved and how you’ve achieved it. Do the same when you’re preparing answers about your personal attributes and motivators and de-motivators.
6. Always avoid saying anything that does not put you in a positive light. When asked what your weaknesses are avoid saying you “work too hard” – it’s too common. A good strategy is to cite a skill that is not very relevant to the job you’re going for, then tell the interviewer what you’re doing to overcome it.
7. When preparing your answers don’t just think about your skills and experience, try also to show how they can benefit your new employer. Remember employers are more interested in what you can do for them rather than your skills per se.
8. Research the company. Demonstrating at an interview that you’ve done a little research never fails to impress the interviewer. The rule of thumb is: the higher the position you’re going for the more you should know about the company and the industry.
9. It’s very handy to have a short summary statement highlighting your strengths up your sleeve. You can use this at the end of an interview as a final flourish – good endings at interviews are extremely important.
10. Avoid asking too many question at the end of the interview – even though you may be asked to. Interviewers generally do not like being put on the spot.