There are few situations that require a person to make a good impression in such a brief amount of time as a job interview. Your prospective employer has shown interest in your skills and experience, which is great. But you still need to create a positive impact face-to-face. This is how you’ll convince them that you’re the right person for the role. From body language to nailing your research, we reveal the top 7 interview skills to master to help you get the job of your dreams.
Project the right body language
The first thing your interviewer will notice is the way you carry yourself. Walk tall, no slouching or fidgeting, greet them with a firm handshake and maintain good eye contact. Once you’re seated continue to adopt an attentive posture, don’t fold your arms and keep an eye on what your hands are doing. It’s fine to use your hands to express a point but you don’t want them to become a distraction.
You’ll probably have an idea of the kind of dress code the company operates but if you aren’t sure either speak to your recruitment agency or look at the About Us pages of their website or LinkedIn profiles to get an idea. Even if it looks like a casual dress code, say, jeans and t-shirts, it’s a good idea to dress a little more conservatively and no matter how forward-thinking the company seems, never wear muddy or worn-out shoes.
If you’re planning on wearing a new, untested outfit it’s worth trying it around the home for a few hours first. Taking a bit of time to practice the most comfortable and modest poses to sit in and ensuring your footwear isn’t going to obstruct your movement will give you more time to relax on the day.
Be confident, but not overconfident
Remember, your professional or academic experience has got this far, so you must be of interest to the company. Be confident in your abilities and in yourself as a person. Recognise your strengths and, while you don’t want to highlight your weaknesses, be honest about them. This shows integrity and self-awareness. No one expects you to be perfect.
Similarly, being over-confident can be equally off-putting to a potential employer. Be gracious when speaking about your achievements and mention other colleagues’ contributions where appropriate.
Demonstrate good listening skills
Showing a lack of attention to what the panel is saying is rude, arrogant and utterly inappropriate for an interview situation. You may as well tell your prospective employer that you aren’t interested in them, the role or the company. When they’re speaking, maintain good eye contact, nod encouragingly to show understanding and wait until they have finished before you respond.
There’s a lot to take in during interviews so it’s totally understandable if you need the panel to reiterate a point. Aside from making sure you respond to the best of your abilities, it shows a genuine willingness to understand their point.
Even if you are on the third interview stage, always come to the meeting with a few interesting questions up your sleeve. Choose questions that show a genuine interest in the company and the sector and try not to resort to generic queries or ones that are too open-ended. Rather than asking what the prospects for advancement are, reframe the question to ask how the department and business have matured over recent years, where they think that might lead to, and what impact that could have on your role and team.
Unless you are absolutely sure that it’s OK to ask about potential increases in holiday allowance or remuneration then we suggest you don’t. Each party understands the need to agree on these benefits but an interview environment is not necessarily the right place for this.
Show you’ve done your research
One of the worst things you can do in an interview is to show a lack of understanding about the company and role. Even if it is an entirely new sector for you or you’re just starting out in your career, you’ll be expected to have done your research. The company website will be your first port of call but you should also take a good look at the business’s wider online presence. What’s their social media like? Have they been in the press recently? Naturally, you should only mention positive media coverage but if they’ve won an award or there’s clear evidence of company growth, give that a mention.
We all want to be our best selves in interviews, but we must be our true selves too. There’s no point in pretending you love a collaborative, lively work environment if you thrive when being left to your own devices. Likewise, if you only feel happy in a buzzing office then it’s doubtful you’ll last long in a quiet workplace.
The interview process is an opportunity to express yourself and talk about your goals and what makes you tick. Be yourself and you’ll find the right role, and company, for you.
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