Easy ways to shine in interviews
16th September 2015
See how putting yourself in your interviewer's shoes can help you land the job you want.
Sweaty palms, a rapid heartbeat and a knot in your stomach… no one enjoys a job interview, but often the same goes for the people asking the questions.
Let’s consider the view from the other side of the table. A day conducting interviews can be tiring, tedious and time-consuming. Asking questions, listening and making notes all at once; going over the same ground again and again; or spending a day with a colleague you just don’t like. Interviewers are under pressure to make a good impression too – their interviewing skills may affect their promotion prospects and all too often there’s more at stake in the room than just who’s going to get the job.
Thinking about how you can make your interviewer’s job easier can really help you shine.
Make yourself memorable (for the right reasons)
A day spent meeting new people means a lot of new information to take in, even for the very best note-takers, so interviewers sometimes use a mental peg to remember candidates.
How you can make yourself stand out? Think about the points you want to get across. What can you bring to the role (that perhaps others can’t)? Having a bank of examples up your sleeve can prove helpful – identify situations which demonstrate your skills and craft these into mini-stories – outline what the issue was, what you did about it and how things turned out. Better to be known as ‘the one who solved the ice cream problem,’ than to be remembered for something less favourable.
Demonstrate your interest
Few things lower an interviewer’s spirits more than a run of dull candidates. Someone who is keen and knows their stuff can really help lift the day.
Enthusiasm, initiative and a can-do attitude can often compensate for a lack of experience or lower scores in other areas. Be sure to check out the company website, do a Google search and try to get a sense of current priorities, likely challenges and future plans.
Ask a couple of questions which will show your understanding of the company and help you find out more about the role.
Answer the question
Sounds obvious, but this is a common interview mistake. It’s easy to fall into to the trap of launching into a long reply without taking time to consider what you’re really being asked.
Try and keep things fresh – don’t memorise set answers or you’ll end up seeming very stilted and scripted. Respond in a clear way and avoid waffle – better to be short and focused, rather than long, irrelevant and boring.
Try and connect
Even when faced with an excellent candidate, a potential boss will always think, ‘Do I want to work with this person and will they fit in with my team?’
So much of an interview is really about personal connection – if you’ve got through to interview stage you’re probably capable of doing the job, so success often comes down to other factors. Unfortunately there’s no magic connection formula as every situation and all relationships will be different, but do try to smile, make eye contact and be warm and friendly.
See the interview as a chance to find out more – do you like the feel of the place or the people? What does your instinct tell you? As much as you are being tested, you are also testing the opportunity and may come away feeling the job or the company is not really the right one for you.
It can be easy to feel at a disadvantage going for an interview, but remembering that your interviewers are probably uncomfortable too, and that the whole thing is actually a two-way process, can restore a sense of balance and ultimately boost your chances of getting the job.