Interviews are an important part of the recruitment process. During an interview an employer will try to figure out if and how you fit into their company or organisation. But any interview is a two-way street.
You’ll also be figuring out if it’s an organisation you want to work for. See yourself as a valuable resource that is potentially available to an employer.
To succeed in any interview, you need to be clear on what your strengths are and what skills you can bring to the role and organisation.
Make sure you evidence anything you claim with examples – this includes anything you have written on your CV or application form.
It is normal to feel nervous at interviews, but proper preparation will give you the confidence to handle the most common interview questions. Accept that there will be some questions that you aren’t prepared for, perhaps because they relate specifically to that job and company/industry, but remember that all interviewees will likely be in the same situation. You can ask for some time to think about your answer, and you can admit to a lack of knowledge on a particular topic. These questions provide a good opportunity to demonstrate your enthusiasm and problem-solving abilities.
While it’s a good idea to prepare answers to common questions and STAR-formatted answers to likely competency questions, you’re unlikely to be able to remember everything you’ve prepared – especially if you’ve written pages of example answers.
Trying to remember it all will increase any interview anxiety you have. Instead use this preparation as a starting point. Move from it to using mind maps, mnemonics or brief one word bullet points
Research suggests that when people reframe anxiety as excitement (e.g. saying "I am excited" out loud) it can help them to perform better in situations that have prompted the anxiety. It is thought that this is due to the body's responses to both states as being similar on a physiological level.
The reframing won't make nerves disappear, but can lead to perceiving the experience more positively, leading to better performance.
Before an interview people often get nervous through thinking about how it could go wrong. Positive mental imagery can improve motivation, confidence and self-efficacy so instead of imagining the interview not going well, try to visualise it going brilliantly.
Visualise yourself walking into the room, shaking hands, smiling and confidently answering all the questions.
Make eye contact for a few seconds at a time with each member of the interviewing panel, and come back most frequently to the person who directed the question to you. If eye contact is difficult for you, looking at noses or eyebrows is a good substitute.
Stand/sit-up straight. Rest your hands in your lap and try not to cross your legs. It is perfectly natural to move a little, and to use hand gestures. Sitting perfectly still, or sitting on your hands can leave a robot-like impression. Try to avoid excessive fidgeting especially jiggling your legs up and down, jangling keys or playing with a pen.
Don’t forget to smile, especially when you walk into the room, but also when you are listening to questions.