Everyone is looking for the edge. How can you get it? Here are ten interview tips that should improve your chances of making a positive impression, writes Liam Horan, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.
Try to find out who’s on the interview panel. The organisation may well volunteer this: if not, you can make a polite call to see if you can get the names. Don’t force it, of course.
- If you get the names, research them. LinkedIn can tell you a lot. Google isn’t bad either. Will they be spooked if, under ‘recently viewed your profile’, they see you’ve check them out? No. It’s research. It shows you’re serious about getting the job.
- If there’s a corporate, strategic or other plan, read it. Figure out where the organisation is going and talk knowledgeably about its aspirations in the interview. Corporate or strategic plans can sometimes appear a touch on the abstract side: you may need to chat to someone working there to get behind the lofty language and get to the heart of the matter.
- Don’t aim for perfection in the interview. I find myself giving this advice to numerous clients. You will stumble and stutter at times during the interview: so will everyone else. Expect it to happen and treat is as a normal development not a shock, horror moment.
- Slow down. When nervous, many people tend to speak quickly. Take your time. Don’t do a Dave Fanning on it. They need to hear what you have to say.
- It’s a job interview, not a monthly, quarterly or annual report to your superiors. You don’t need to tell them everything – just enough so they can see you exhibiting the competencies they seek in the successful candidate. Strip away unnecessary detail. Shine the light on those elements of your experience that sell you.
- If you work in a job where you have to be guarded or careful in your daily interactions (e.g. local authority official, member of An Garda Síochána, HSE staff member), let the handbrake off in the interview. For stories to sell you, they must be explicit. Blind off details (e.g. don’t allude to gender of a colleague if you’re talking about managing conflict, obscure irrelevant details such as age, or decline to say where the exact incident in question happened) so that no-one on the panel can identify the person in the story. Once you’ve done that, you can give detail, secure in the knowledge that you have demonstrated the competency without compromising anyone’s entitlement to privacy.
- If you don’t know, don’t bluff it. Even if you should know, and you don’t, don’t bluff it. A capable interviewer is likely to burst your bubble. I’ve seen it happen. It wasn’t pretty. Luckily, I was sitting alongside the interviewer – not across from her.
- Show that you’re actively advancing your career right now. Have you signed up for a course? Blogged o your field? Attended seminars? Joined the trade body you’ve been meaning to join? Stagnation isn’t good in an ever-changing world.
- Prepare to chat. ‘Be yourself’ is difficult advice to execute, but it’s still good advice. Don’t try to become someone you’re not. Don’t try to find a level of language that doesn’t come naturally to you.