By Laura Holcombe
When it comes to job interviews, the internet is full of advice on how to be the best of the best; to be memorable, outshine your competition and ultimately land the position. Or at least it claims to be! To me, job interviews are a bit of an art form, but an art form you can easily master if you think a little bit outside the box in terms of your preparation.
It’s completely obvious that you should turn up slightly early and wear smart clothing. You should smile, show you’re knowledgeable about the company and be enthusiastic. But isn’t that all a bit obvious? Imagine if you were interviewing candidates and someone came in grumbling, wearing a track suit and they were half an hour late. It’s not likely they’d get the job, right? So let’s put aside all of the obvious, repetitive, stale information that’s been fed to you over and over again. Let’s get interesting. Read below for my top tips on smashing your next job interview and really being remembered:
- Prepare an interview survival kit
This is legitimately one of the best interview tips I have ever heard! According to Michelle Goodman for ABC News, “experts suggest assembling a survival kit ahead of time and leaving it in your car or briefcase.” I included this example first after my best friend went through a series of unfortunate events on their way to a job interview recently that included getting caught in torrential rain and their phone, containing directions to the business, dying prematurely. This resulted in a very soggy human arriving half an hour late for their interview. Shockingly, they were unsuccessful. I would recommend carrying an water, mints, an external phone charger, umbrella, some grooming items such as deodorant, a hair brush and maybe even a spare shirt or change of clothes if it’s a long journey. Plan public transport routes ahead of time and either print them or save them onto your phone. It’s clichéd but true: proper preparation prevents poor performance. Or in this case, an absolute nightmare of an afternoon!
- Mirror your interviewer
Now you’ve arrived well prepared and unscathed it is important to make a good first impression. You definitely want to be yourself, but if you’re a very naturally loud and outgoing person and the person interviewing you is quiet and serious, you may run into a problem. There are, however, many different ways of mirroring that can be effective, and you can choose whichever is easiest for you. For example, according to The University of Kent, a great way of mirroring is paraphrasing what the interviewer has said, otherwise known as active listening. If they ask you a long, complicated question, clarify what they are asking you by repeating a summary of the question back to them. This demonstrates that you are listening carefully to what they are saying. If the interviewer is sitting in a casual, relaxed manner, feel free to do the same. Speak slowly if they speak slowly. Gesticulate if they do the same. The ultimate goal here is to make the interviewer comfortable being around you, and the more they identify with you, even if is it subconsciously, the better. Don’t be put off if the person interviewing you has a vastly different personality to you. They are simply one representative of that business, and how well you get on with one person is no indication of how well you will fit in overall at the company if offered the position.
- Create a conversation
Many interviewees forget that as much as you are being interviewed for a position, you too are interviewing the company. If your interviewer mentions something that you find interesting, ask them to expand on it. It oozes enthusiasm and, again, excellent listening skills. It may also give you an opportunity to speak further about some of the things you have learned about the company while researching them. Not only this, but it creates a flowing conversation, rather than it being a very strict question and answer format. It is important to be aware that some interviews will need to be run to strict timescales, so it may be worth preempting what might be considered a digression by ascertaining how much time the interviewer has allocated to you. Something along the lines of “I’m aware you may be limited in time, however I’m very interested to learn more about…” or something similar. If they are tight for time it’s not a problem, as it allows for a further dialogue to develop after the interview, perhaps via email.
Without fail, you will always be asked whether you have any questions for the interviewer at the end. Unfortunately, most people do not take full advantage of this opportunity. It is crucial to prepare insightful, intelligent questions that will further demonstrate your skills and suitability for the role. As mentioned in the previous point, your interviewer could be very short for time so you’ll only be able to ask one or two questions. But if given the time, go ham. If you’re interviewing for a marketing role, ask them about their long term goals. Expand on what you found interesting in your research. But the absolute BEST question is to ask the interviewer about themselves. Ask them about their career path, how they like working in their position, what they want to do in the future. Keep it professional, but show that you’re not only interested in the company and the role but the person too. It’s something that very few candidates do and is guaranteed to help you stand out. If anything, it just shows you’re a nice person who has the ability to empathise.
These four points are clearly not exhaustive, but they’re ideas that most people might not initially think about when preparing for an interview. Let us know through our Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn pages if you used any of these tips and they worked for you! If you’re looking for work, register your CV with i4 Recruitment for hourly job updates and daily job bulletins into your inbox.