The interview process can be daunting. But with a little help and the right guidance, it really can be turned into a positive experience.
So, here is some guidance, plus tried and tested methods and exercises – all designed to help you through each stage of the process.
The Purpose of Interviews
An interview is an opportunity for the interviewee and the interviewer(s) to establish if there is any potential for there to be a productive working relationship between them both, and to see if the interviewees work experience is a good match for the post advertised.
Put simply, it is a meeting of two parties to see if they can work well together. Both the person applying for and the person offering the position are there to interview the other.
Interviews are NOT, as is sometimes perceived, a TEST - where the interviewee is 'grilled' about their work experience, personality and ability to fit into company regulations. This perspective produces an unequal balance of power, and quite understandably, can lead to the interviewee becoming, in some cases, extremely nervous about the process - feeling scrutinized about their experience, personality and general persona. If the interview or company approach is like this, then it can be an example of how the company or department operates.
Therefore, viewing the interview process as an EQUAL meeting, produces a*much more positive perspective and an equal balance of power. With this knowledge, the whole interview process is significantly less stressful and can become an interesting learning experience. This perspective alone, changes the basic approach used when applying for a new job.
Preparing for the Interview
Know that if you have received an offer of an interview, then you have the relevant experience required for the post. Interview and selection panels do not interview those who have not got most of the relevant work experience and skills. So, an offer to attend an interview means that you're 50% towards the goal of being offered the position already.
Once the offer to attend an interview has been accepted, it is essential to start preparing straight away. The better prepared you are, the more relaxed you will be, which in turn will help you to be yourself, give honest answers, and will give those interviewing you a realistic idea of your capabilities and personality.
Following are some exercises and tips to ensure that you are fully prepared for your interview.
This exercise is designed to anticipate potential questions that you may be asked in the interview. Imagine that you are the interviewer, what would you like to know about the candidates? Some examples of some general questions asked at interviews are listed below. Add any specific questions about the role that you think are relevant. Once the potential questions have been identified, you can then practice answering them. When thinking of the role specific questions, it may be helpful to re-read the job description.
Example: Questions asked by Interviewers
- Tell us what attracted you to applying for this position?
- What appeals to you about working for this company?
- What skills and experience do you have that are relevant to this position?
- Are there any skills that you would like to learn or improve upon?
- What are your salary & benefits expectations?
- What is the notice period in your current position?
- Is there anything you'd like to ask about the company/project/position?
Re-read the information the company sent to you about themselves such as their Mission Statement or Aims and Objectives. Identify any areas that you would like clarifying.
Example: Questions asked by Interviewees
- Can you give me an example of a typical week in this role?
- What is the companies training and development policy
- What is the benefits package; annual leave allocation, Pension Scheme?
Add any specific questions about the role that you think are relevant.
Write these questions down, it is perfectly acceptable to take a notepad and the list of questions to the interview.
Memory Triggers Techniques for Interviews
Choose what you are going to wear well in advance. If you feel new clothes are required make sure you buy them in good time, it is very important to look smart and feel comfortable. Wear your interview clothes when you are practicing the interview questions and answers, only wearing these clothes for this purpose creates an association in the mind and body.
Combined with the techniques below these will help to trigger the memory of both the content of the Q's & A's and a relaxed state. You will feel a familiar sensation via the clothes, smell a familiar smell, have just heard familiar music, your memory of a relaxed and a happy state will be TRIGGERED.
SMELL is one of the best triggers of memory available. So, once you have accepted the interview, buy a new scent - one that you like and gives a good, relaxed feeling. Use this scent only for the interview process.
MUSIC is another excellent trigger of memory. Choose a song or album that makes you feel relaxed and happy. From this point, only use this music before, and during if preferred, the interview preparation.
When practicing answering and asking interview questions, put on the interview clothes, the scent that you have specifically for these occasions, play your interview music beforehand and most importantly - RELAX. When you feel in a relaxed state, read out loud (alone or with a friend) the questions and answers that you have prepared. This will give familiarity in order to assist you in being yourself.
During the Interview
Firstly, feeling nervous is perfectly understandable. We spend a large proportion of our lives at work – so getting the right job in the right organization is key to our happiness and well-being.
So, know that you have prepared well. Allow plenty of time to get to the interview, if you do no know where it is, visit the location beforehand, note how long it takes to get there, then add one hour. It is much better to arrive early. You then have time to sit and relax, familiarize yourself with the location, listen to the music you've chosen and read through the preparation notes.
Take a copy of the job description and the questions you would like to ask.
If during the interview you do feel nervous or go completely blank (this is common when we feel under pressure) - BREATHE, take your time, and REMEMBER that those interviewing you WANT you to be the right person for the job. They are on your side. The interview is NOT a test.
If you are asked a question that is unclear, ask for it to be clarified.
At the end of the interview, shake hands with those who have been interviewing you and ask when a decision will be made.
After the Interview
The process of de-briefing after the interview is an important step, as it helps to highlight what went well, what could been improved up and so ultimately helps prepare for the next interview.
Exercise 3 Debriefing
Try to establish:
- What went well.
- What you did before the interview that worked.
- The questions that were answered well.
- The questions that were well received.
- What you think could be improved upon.
- Add ideas about how you can make those improvements.
- Are there any resources available to help you?
Clarifying all of this is excellent preparation for your next interview, be that in the near of distant future.
Hints and Tips
- Receiving a request for an interview, means you already HAVE the relevant skills.
- PREPARATION is key to interview success.
- Use SMELL and MUSIC to trigger a relaxed state.
- Choose clothes that look SMART and feel COMFORTABLE.
- Remember - those interviewing you WANT you to be the right person for the job.
- The interview is an opportunity to see if YOU would like the position advertised.* ASK the interviewers relevant questions.
- Keep BREATHING. A common symptom of nervousness is shallow breathing. Simply take a few deeper breaths and take your time.
- Be HONEST. Be YOURSELF. Then both you and the interviewer(s) can decide if you're going to be able to work together effectively.
- After the interview, note down what went well, what could be improved upon.
- Visualize yourself receiving the call/letter offering you the job.
- Keep positive, if you don't get the job, ask for feedback.
- See each interview as an OPPORTUNITY to polish your skills.
- Keep positive. The RIGHT job is waiting for you.