Interviews are a great opportunity to get a sense of the job you have applied for and the employees that currently work there. Equally, they allow the employer to get a sense of you, and whether or not you are the right person for their role. Think of this experience as a chance to dip your toe in the water before you jump in.
However, it is natural to feel the pressure of these settings, especially when you are keen to make a good first impression. Fortunately, with our 12 great interview tips, you can give yourself a head start.
Our Takeaway Interview Tips
- Know how video interviews are different to traditional methods
- Understand how video interviews are just another type of interview
- Arriving at your interview with time to spare
- Make a good first impression
- Do your research so you know the company you want to work for
- Research your interviewers
- Back yourself and ensure you know your CV inside-out
- Prepare skills and competency questions
- Analyse your behaviours
- Prepare and practice structuring your interview questions
- Stay positive throughout
- Create a list of questions to ask at the end
Before we jump into these interview techniques in more detail, first you need to identify what type of interview you have and what this is asking of you.
Different Types of Interviews
Since the coronavirus outbreak, job interviews now commonly take place in three different formats: face-to-face, on the phone or over a video call. The rise in online video interviews has been catastrophic. Before 2021, 79% of all first-stage interviews were conducted in person or by telephone. Now, post-pandemic, 86% of employers are favouring video calls to carry out these interviews.
It is the inclusion of video interviews that brings us to the first of our 12 interview tips.
Tip 1: Understand How Video Interviews Differ
These interviews are generally happening in our homes. Some are lucky enough to have dedicated workspaces, others are in the kitchen. It is important to be aware of your surroundings and to be efficient. Someone may have been using your device before you, so always check it is plugged in, charged and with the volume set correctly, and no inappropriate backgrounds if using Zoom.
While we are becoming ever more used to platforms such as Zoom and Teams, it is important to remember that it can be harder to make a personal connection so remember to use the webcam properly.
Tip 2: Don’t Overthink Video Interviews
At the end of the day, the purpose of the interview remains the same. This is your chance to persuade this organisation that you are the right person for this role. Just like any other interview, you must be there on time and fully prepared.
Different Interview Audiences
Interviews can also vary between having a one-to-one discussion, a panel of two or more, and a group discussion. Before your scheduled meeting, ensure you know what to expect from yours.
One-to-one interviews are usually more common in small businesses; however, this is not always the case. Often, a panel of interviewers is preferred so more opinions can be taken into consideration. In these settings, be sure to address everyone, looking at all the different interviewers in turn.
Group discussions tend to lend themselves to larger organisations and assessment days. Remember, that you will also be assessed on how well you interact with the other candidates. Be respectful, but make sure you speak up and put your ideas across.
Styles of Interview Questions
Now you know what type of interview you are attending, you may also receive information that directs you on the style of questions you will be asked.
Common types of interview questions include:
- Situational judgement
Understanding what types of questions your employer is looking to ask in advance can help you demonstrate the particular skills or experiences your employer is looking for. And, this moves us on nicely to the importance of preparation and I’ll next batch of interview tips.
The Importance of Preparation
Interviews are generally stressful experiences, and there are ways of making them, if not enjoyable, at least a more positive experience. If you’re not confident that you interview strongly, think back to your interview toolkit. What are you using to impress the interviewer(s)? Use this to build a good case for why you are the best person for the role they are interviewing for. Great preparation is what is going to help you find and access those tools.
Your preparation is not simply limited to what you are going to say and how you plan to conduct yourself. Good interview preparation starts with getting yourself ready and to your interview on time.
Tip 3: Getting There in Good Time
Whether your interview is virtual or face-to-face, know where you are meant to be, what time you are meant to be there, and how you are getting there. If you are travelling somewhere new, you may wish to practise the journey, noting down how long it takes you. Always overestimate your travel time, giving yourself enough time for unexpected traffic and delay, and allowing yourself time to collect your thoughts. You don’t want to be in a rush or arrive flustered.
This process is the same with video and phone interviews, make sure you’re all set up and ready for the call. Get yourself a glass of water on standby and get yourself comfortable. Ensure your background is clear or your space is distraction-free, and then take a deep breath before you answer or join the meeting.
Tip 4: Make a Great First Impression
First impressions count. Make sure you engage with your interviewers and appear confident. After all, getting invited to an interview is an achievement; you have persuaded the recruiter that your experience could add value to their organisation. Now, you have to persuade them that it will.
As nervous as you may be, smile and make eye contact. If the interview is online make sure you know where your webcam is and look straight at that. Demonstrate active listening skills throughout.
Know your Audience
Impress your interviewers by doing some background research into themselves and their company. Taking the time to find out more helps to demonstrate your interest and dedication to their job role further. Discover our interview tips on knowing your audience below.
Tip 5: Research the Company
Research everything you can about the company. Not only will you look keen and invested, but doing so can provide some insight into their central values and culture. If you are going for a Divisional role, ensure you understand the wider company and what it does. Think about how this Division fits in and works alongside other teams.
There are lots of resources at your disposal, so make sure you use them. Start with their website and social media pages, before branching out to LinkedIn, Glassdoor and Companies House. The level of detail you need will vary according to the level of the role, but it is better to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared.
Tip 6: Look Up the Interviewer(s)
If you have been told who is going to be interviewing you, have a look at their background. If you are looking on LinkedIn, depending on your settings, they may be notified. But, don’t let this put you off, it is standard practice and can even make the interview more personal. If you are being interviewed by the person who is in the role or team currently, don’t try and reinvent yourself as them; the organisation may well be looking for different skills, for all the right reasons.
In your preparation, a key interview tip we can give you is to make sure you give yourself time to familiarise yourself with your own skill set, competencies and CV. After all, you will need to reference your experience to date to help demonstrate why you are the most suitable candidate for the role.
Tip 7: Know your CV and Application
Make sure you remember what you put in your CV and application form, and be prepared to go into more detail where you have highlighted something as an achievement or a challenge. This may be early in your career. They are not trying to catch you out; it may just be very relevant to the role.
If you are having an online interview you can have a copy of your CV and application form close by, but make sure you position these beyond the webcam.
After seeing your CV, common questions that interviewers ask include:
- “Tell me a bit about yourself” – Remember to focus your answer on how relevant you are for the role and the organisation; don’t go too far back in history
- “What can you bring to the role?” – Think about why you applied for the position in the first place
Tip 8: Know your Skills and Competencies
If you are going for a competency-based interview you are being given the opportunity to demonstrate how your experience will enable you to bring the necessary skills to the role. The questions are likely to be open-ended.
Prepare for “Tell me about a time when…:”
- You overcame a particular challenge with suppliers
- You resolved an issue with a difficult customer
- You cut costs without cutting service levels
- You demonstrated good teamwork skills
Tip 9: Analyse your Behaviours
If the interview is behaviour-based you are being asked to demonstrate how you performed in certain situations. The questions could be asked in many different ways, but prepare for:
- When did something go right and what did you put that down to?
- When did something go wrong and what did you learn from that?
- How do you manage conflict for yourself and others – Formally? Informally? The result?
- How do you motivate yourself and others – Targets? Rewards? Team building? Development?
Tip 10 – Structure your Answers
After you’ve spent time preparing what you can talk about for the different styles of interview questions, you need to ensure you articulate all your points clearly and effectively. When you’re nervous, it is easy to lose your point or go off on tangents. To avoid this, we recommend preparing your answers with the STAR technique.
Situation – briefly give the interviewer context
Task – outline what you needed to do
Action – go into some detail as to what action you took
Result – go into some detail as to what you achieved and how this related to the original task
You can take this process to the next level by considering an additional ‘R,’ Review. For some examples, it is worth discussing briefly what you took away from this, or if there was anything you might have done differently.
Tip 11 – What Do You Want to Know?
Even if the interviewers have been exceptional at giving you all the information you need about the role and the company, always have some questions prepared for them. It demonstrates interest and curiosity. Think about your body language when listening to their answers too, active listening helps show your engagement.
Some possible areas to ask questions about are:
- The Interviewer – how have they progressed in the company; what do they like about it?
- The Organisation – is it diversifying?
- The Ethos – does the organisation have a sustainability policy or do they support a certain charity?
- The Role – what training and development is on offer should you be successful?
Tip 12 – Be Positive
Last but not least, be positive. Remember the organisation wants to fill this role and it is important for them that they find the right person. This interview is simply an opportunity for you to demonstrate how that person is you. It’s not a test or a trick; instead, it is just a two-way conversation, for both parties to better understand each other. Keep a positive attitude throughout the process, and you’ll present yourself in a favourable manner.
It is crucial as well to stay positive about your weaknesses. It is best to be open and aware of them, but bring your answer back to how you are working on them. For example,
“I don’t like speaking up in groups, so I prepare myself for at least one question per meeting or I volunteer to organise a group social event.” Instead of highlighting your shyness and leaving it at that, you are showing them that you push and challenge yourself.
Be positive about the role and the organisation. Leave them in no doubt that this is the role you want and where you will be able to add value. All of these 12 great interview tips will help you finish your interview with a smile.
It’s good to always keep these tools sharp as they work just as well for pitches, presentations and meetings. For more help and support with your job search, get in touch with our recruitment specialists today.