April 15th, Column

Ten pointers for a winning job interview

1. When you’ve got your CV right, the interview will flow from there. A well-written CV will lure the interviewer down certain roads that suit you – control your CV, influence the interview.

2.  Nerves are good. Great sportspeople are regularly so consumed by nerves before major events that they can barely talk. Learn that nerves are inevitable: and focus instead on what you’re going to be asked to do. You’re going to be asked to talk about yourself (a subject you know well), your background (ditto), your education (ditto), and what value you can bring to the employer (ditto). Therefore, like the great sportsperson, your nerves should dissipate once you get rolling in the interview. The subject matter is familiar to you so you have nothing to fear.

3. They don’t want you to fail either. Contrary to popular opinion, interviewers (with the very rare exception) take no delight in seeing a candidate fall apart, and will generally do anything to avoid this happening. They can make a decision on the best candidate without reducing the rest to tears. It’s like a Best Man at a wedding: everyone wants him to do well.

4. Take it one question at a time. Treat every question as an opportunity to ‘sell’ yourself. Don’t force it, but don’t pass up opportunities to talk yourself up either. Most people are not arrogant, and therefore even if they talk themselves up a bit more than usual, they will still not come across as arrogant or conceited.

5. Do the preparation work. Get friends to do mock interviews with you. Even just one question. Driving in the car, articulate answers.

6. Relax. Don’t imbue the interview with too great a significance. It’s just one job. There will be more. Even in this environment, there will be more. Focus not on getting the job, but on doing the best you can do. Fine-tune your interview performance over and over. Eventually, hopefully sooner rather than later, you will do enough to get the job.

7. Back to nerves – they don’t notice your nerves as much as you do. We are our own worst critics in this area. Plus to be nervous, is to be human. Don’t worry about it. It’s only natural.

8. Yes, yes, yes – a firm handshake is advisable. But, please, don’t wait to hear the crack of knuckle.

9. The interview is not just about you – it’s about what you can bring to the company. So, first of all, decide what the company is looking for. Write down the words that describe their requirements. Then, and only then, see how you fit the bill. If you decide they need a good communicator, and you feel you’re a good communicator, then you’ve got to tell them that – and you’ve also got to back it up with concrete examples that prove you’re a good communicator. Prove it with examples from your previous work, or from your personal life or hobbies. But until you prove it with an example, they can’t really be sure it’s true.

10. Paint pictures. If you’re a school-teacher who takes the time to bring the students on extra-curricular trips, paint that picture – tell the interviewer about the recent trip to the theatre to see a play. Name the play. Name the theatre. Let the interviewer gain a strong visual sense of you with that group in that theatre. When you achieve that, you have embedded something valuable in the interviewer’s mind.

Sli Nua Careers (Watson’s Lane, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo / Drum East, Bushy Park, Galway, tel 094 95 42965 / 091 528 883, www.SliNuaCareers.com) carry out CV Preparation, Mock Interviews, Interview Training, and Career Direction. For your free e-book on interview & CV tips, email GetThatJob@SliNuaCareers.com. They provide online CV makeovers at SliNuaCareers.com/cv-preparation/cv-makeover/.