Interview Skills: Overview
So it's interview day and you're stressing out.
You’re practicing questions in your head, attempting to answer what ‘your greatest weakness’ is, meanwhile you’re staring at your wardrobe trying to figure out what the hell ‘smart casual’ even means anyway...
But don’t panic.
...and make sure the shirt and trousers you put on don’t have last night’s spaghetti still on them.
Interviews can be daunting, but it’s important to remember that first and foremost, you got this interview because your potential future employers think you have the right qualifications and skills for the job. This interview is for them to get a sense of who you are as a person.
So how do you impress them? How do you give off a good first impression and talk about your skills without sounding overconfident or self obsessed?
Well here is a quick breakdown of a few key things to remember when going for that interview:
It’s important to be prepared for that first interview. This means researching a bit about the company you’re applying to work for to find out their goals as an organisation. It’s also a good opportunity for you to think about how you might answer some of their questions to show that your values are in line with theirs.
Make sure you know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Nothing says ‘I’m underprepared’ quite like showing up late to an interview.
Think about how you are presenting yourself:
Take a moment now and think about your posture. Are you slumped over in your seat? Are you leaning awkwardly against a wall? Does your body language right at this moment give off a good, positive image that you’d want your future employers to see?
If not then think about what you could do to change this. Your body language, expression and tone are absolutely critical in an interview. Don’t forget about eye contact either. Try not to force anything- you don’t want to appear as if you’re staring into their souls but by the same token, you don’t want to give your interviewers the impression that you find your shoes more interesting than them.
If you appear to not be making an effort to appear engaged, enthusiastic and professional, you can be pretty sure your interviewers are not getting the best impression of you that they possibly could. You may be a terrified hot wreck on the inside- but your interviews don’t need to know that. Smile.
Be positive. Be engaging.
Imagine you were in your interviewer’s shoes. The person sitting in front of them looks like a stunned baby owl. Their shoulders are up around their ears; and they are firing off answers to their questions like an automated robot.
Don’t forget your interviewers are people too. It’s okay to be friendly and positive as long as you remain professional-- so don’t come in and high-five them. A handshake will do.
Your interviewers want to see that you are excited about the job you’re applying for. This doesn’t mean you should take every opportunity to mention how wonderful they are or talk incessantly about how much you love the company. Your interviewers probably like the company too, but they’re here to find out more about you-- not hear their company’s website regurgitated at them.
Instead, when they ask you a question be honest and positive. Even if you’re asked about your greatest weakness-- identify a real weakness, explain how you are actively working on it, and maybe mention how you have other strengths in that area.
For example: A weakness of mine that I am currently working on is my public speaking. I am taking more opportunities to give presentations and speaking more frequently in front of my colleagues to build my confidence in this area. Although I still sometimes find it daunting speaking in front of lots of people, I am really effective in communicating in group situations.
It’s also good to remember that this interview is about you finding out what you’d like to know about the company too, so it’s okay to ask questions.
Giving examples is the difference between saying: I’m very skilled in this area; and I’m very skilled in this area because…
The examples you give help you talk about your strengths and skills without sounding cocky. If you give examples, you are showing that you do in fact possess those skills; and more importantly, you’re able to self reflect and know how you are able to apply your skills and strengths to situations.
Have your questions ready.
It is very likely that at the end of your interview, your interviewers will ask you if you have any questions for them. Yes. Yes you do. Ask them.
If you say no, it gives off the impression that you are not fully engaged with the company or with the job. As a rough guide, usually no more than three questions are expected.
At the end of your interview, thank your interviewers for their time. Shake their hands and, depending on how you felt the interview went, hold in any eruptive emotions until you are out of the building. You should also send a follow up email to once again thank your interviewers for their time, reaffirm your enthusiasm for the job and potentially ask for some feedback as well. This lets them know just how serious you are about the role- it’s also polite. Just remember, you are in that interview because you were good enough to be offered that place. So keep calm and take a deep breath--and good luck!
Just remember, you are in that interview because you were good enough to be offered that place. So keep calm and take a deep breath--and good luck!