You’ve applied for an amazing position and are super keen to get it. You’re thrilled you’ve been invited to an interview, based on your impressive resume. Now it’s time to prepare to really sell yourself. After all, winning a coveted position isn’t about keeping your fingers and toes crossed. It’s about putting in the hard yards before you enter the interview room.
Here are six expert tips for making a memorable impression, from the minute you walk into the interview through to the minute you walk out.
Tip #1: Plan how to answer questions
You’ll undoubtedly be asked about your skills and talents during your interview, so be prepared to explain what they are, skillfully, concisely and confidently. It’s surprising how many candidates aren’t prepared for obvious and inevitable questions. As a result, they sound hesitant and can even waffle.
Take time before your interview to make notes and rehearse how you’ll answer the skills question and other top interview questions. This is the only way to ensure you’ll be able confidently explain why you stand out in the crowd and should be selected for the position.
Behavioural questions are popular. You may be asked ‘Tell me about a time when you …’ What interviewers are looking for is a ‘STAR’ response—situation, task, action, result. Practice telling your response like you would tell a story.
Also, think through how you will add value to the organisation. Practice being precise. Remember that you can’t possibly cover everything off in your answer so pick your top skills and focus on them.
Tip #2: Study the organisation
Job seekers who don’t take time to get to know the organisation they’re applying for inevitably get caught out and end up embarrassed as a result.
There’s no excuse these days with so much valuable information online. Trawl through the organisation’s website and online publications, make notes and study them. Who is the head of the organisation? What products and services does the organisation offer? What is its vision, values and culture?
Researching this way will earn you respect. It will also enable you to better match your experience to needs.
Tip #3: Work through your weaknesses
If you’re not sure about how you match a skill listed in the job description, take time to think laterally about how to illustrate that you’re still a top candidate. If you’re not as strong on leadership skills at work, for example, think about your leadership skills in areas outside of work. You could, for example, be a great volunteer leader for a community organisation. Or you may have examples of how you have led the way on a project for a social group you belong too.
Also practice turning your perceived weaknesses into positives. This is a great tactic. You may be asked: ‘What is your biggest weakness?’ State what this is but then turn it into a positive. An example might be: ‘I can have trouble saying no and so sometimes get overloaded. Now, before I automatically say yes to everything, I pause and reflect on what my current workload is. If I can’t handle the additional task without compromising on my work, I say so.’
Tip #4: Memorise some stats
Interviewers are reluctant to just take your word for how well you say you perform. Why should they? It’s your responsibility to back up what you say with proof, including valuable statistics and other concrete results.
Don’t simply say you ran a ‘successful project’. Say you ran a successful project that ‘exceeded projected results by 20%’ and ‘came in under budget by 5%’ and ‘was delivered ahead of time by two weeks, saving the organisation $xx’.
Real-life examples that demonstrate your claims show you know your stuff and are confident in your abilities. It’s an approach that’s sure to impress.
Tip #5: Be relevant
Review your resume against the job requirements before your interview so you’re ready to outline your relevant experience.
Interviewers are focused. They want you to be too. They want you to illustrate how your skills and experience match what they need. They want relevance in every answer. To achieve this, pick out key words from the job description—words interviewers will be looking for. You’ll score big if you do this well.
Tip #6: Avoid these common mistakes at all costs
Shining at interview is as much about what to do as it is what not to do. Here are some of our expert tips on mistakes to avoid at all costs in an interview.
- Don’t arrive late. It’s your responsibility to you arrive early. Using excuses like ‘The traffic was crazy’ or ‘I got lost finding the building’ or ‘The bus wasn’t on time’ won’t cut it. In advance, map out where you’re going and how long it will take to get there. Factor in traffic, transport delays, weather and anything else that could prevent you from arriving on time and relaxed.
- Don’t show up dressed inappropriately. Dress to impress. Feel great. Look great. Read our article on ‘How to dress for a job interview’.
- Don’t cut off or interrupt interviewers. Being interviewed is an opportunity to show you’re a good communicator and a good listener and that you respect others. Read our article on ‘How to interview like a pro’.
- Don’t forget to thank those interviewing you for the opportunity; smile and shake hands when you do so. This will illustrate that you’re courteous, professional and polite. Here’s a fun video providing tips on handshakes.