Many people dread having to attend interviews and feel nervous and uncomfortable at the prospect. When you consider that interviews are one of the least effective ways of selecting people for jobs, that anxiety seems even more pointless! But for now it seems that interviews are here to stay, so it is worthwhile ensuring that you don’t miss out on a good job by a poor interview.
Studies suggest that the five most common reasons people fail at interview are:
- lack of awareness of the company
- lack of preparation
- lack of/over enthusiasm
- personal appearance (!)
- turning up late
All of these reasons boil down to the same thing: lack of preparation. So, what can you do to ensure you are well prepared?
First and foremost, think with the employer’s “hat” on and attempt to see things from their perspective. Recruitment is an expensive and risky process. Employers want to ensure that they select the right person for the job and the company. They are seeking to satisfy themselves in three areas:
- Can you do the job?
- Will you fit in here?
- If offered the job, will you stay and perform well?
Your role in the process is to provide the evidence to be able to satisfy them on all three questions. The interview provides you with the opportunity to do this.
Suitable preparation therefore includes an understanding of the role, the company, how the company works and its culture (ie. how they do things, their ‘style’). [If you prepared the earlier stages of your job search thoroughly, these things will have formed part of your checklist when choosing which jobs to apply for].
You should prepare real examples from your experience and achievements which demonstrate your skill and fitness for the role. For example, if you know that the role requires analytical skills, you need to provide the best examples you have of a time when you employed your own analytical skills to a work task or problem. You should be prepared to describe the situation behind the problem or task, outline what action you took (in some detail and being sure to identify your abilities and characteristics) and then describe the positive outcome or result. You should do this for all aspects of the job’s requirements. In this way you can ensure that you are providing the interviewer with a clear, positive picture of yourself.
Being thoroughly prepared and in possession of your previous accomplishments and attributes also means that you don’t have to “swot up” for the interview by rote learning a 100 possible questions and hoping that you have prepared the right ones. Because whatever they ask, you already know the answer.
Job seekers: If you would like to share your interview experience or indeed pose a question, I would love to hear from you. Interviewers: what are your experiences? What represents the best and worst in interview practice to you?