Most job interviews are on the scale of ‘not great’ to ‘pretty good’ and only occasionally do candidates say to me that their interview was brilliant. Sometimes, however, the word ‘disaster’ is mentioned. These are our tips for avoiding interview disaster!
Revise the basics
A common mistake when preparing for interview is to focus on the cutting edge developments in your industry and omit the basics. Employers want to see that you are up-to-date with recent news but they need to know that you have a solid foundation in your field. You do know these things already but if you haven’t had to explain them or even thought about what you’re doing for some years it’s important to practice a clear and concise explanation of your key processes. Don’t leave the interviewer in any doubt about your key competencies – the additional knowledge is icing on the cake!
There are no trick questions
Or at least there shouldn’t be. Don’t believe the horror stories – 99.9% of job interviews will not include trick questions, deliberately off-putting behaviour or existential philosophy. If the interviewer asks you a question that seems so basic it must be a trick, it isn’t. So many candidates have told me that the questions seemed too easy. You should be delighted – you clearly know your stuff. Answer the question as succinctly as you can – just because it seems easy doesn’t mean you should complicate your answer. It’s quite easy to create an interview disaster of your own!
Ask for clarification
Another common complaint I get is that the interviewer wasn’t very clear. My advice is to take a pause and ask for clarification. “Would you mind rephrasing the question, please?” is a polite way to get a better chance of providing a coherent answer. If you don’t understand the question you’re unlikely to give a good answer. You could rephrase yourself – “I just want clarify that you are asking me about…..”. To check early on makes you look much better than spending 5 minutes rambling off-topic!
Breathe, relax and smile
The worst aspect of the interview is controlling your nerves. Nervous interviewees tend to fall into two categories – the ones who can barely utter a word and the ones that cannot stop talking. Neither of these characteristics is attractive to an employer! My advice is to control your breathing as you listen to what the interviewer is asking and don’t be afraid to pause to collect your thoughts before you start to speak. If you tend to clam up, make sure you relax your shoulders. When your body is relaxed the words should flow (hopefully!). Finally remember to smile! Even on phone interviews it is proven to enhance communication!
Be on time, look smart, feel confident!
Sometimes people are late for reasons totally beyond their control but in my experience that is rare. If you end up sitting in a café around the corner from the office for an hour that is greatly preferable to the dashing into reception 1 minute late. If you are organised you can be on time and everyone wants an organised employee! For face-to-face interviews make sure you arrive with time to ensure you’re looking smart and walk into that interview a confident consultant!
Take the time, be prepared and avoid interview disaster every time!