before the interview

be prepared

One of the biggest challenges candidates face when they are being interviewed is being able to articulate their ability to do the job they have applied for, and this is often down to nerves. To lessen your anxiety, before the interview it is important you take time to practice selling yourself. Think about your top five strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments. Take some time prior to your interview to consider the types of questions the hiring manager may ask you during the interview and prepare how you plan to answer these questions. Write down your answers and then practice saying them out-loud - either to yourself in a mirror, or to a friend or family member. The more practice you have, the more atriculate and believable you will be during the interview. 

do your homework

Before you head to the interview, take time to familiarise yourself with the company you are interviewing with. Visit their website, read recent news articles they feature in, and even do some searches of your LinkedIn network to see if you have any connections to people who work within the company. Business leaders love applicants who can demonstrate that they know more about the company than just the position they are interviewing for - its shows that you are proactive, inquisitive and demonstrate an active interest in the organisation.

dress for success

Depending on the role you are going for, choose your interview attire carefully. Even though you may have a personality which is larger than life (with the wardrobe to match), try to dress conservatively, at least for the first interview so that you can gauge the type of working environment that your prospective role will be in. No matter if its business casual or full corporate dress, make sure your clothes are clean and tidy - people often make subconscious judgement's based on appearances, so you want to do everything you can to impress and one of the easiest ways to show your professionalism is through what you wear. Dressing for success will not only give a great first impression, but will also bolster your confidence during the interview.

leave plenty of time for travel

Unless your potential employer happens to be right next door to where you live, there's a good chance you will need to travel to reach your destination. Regardless of whether you plan to go by public transport or car, make sure you take some time before the interview to assess how long it will take you to get there, and also alternate routes in case of an emergency - you never know what obstacles you might face on the day! Many employers list punctuality as a key trait they are looking for in a candidate, and turning up late to your interview is a major blunder. Try to arrive at least 10 minutes before the interview - the advantage also gives you some added time while you are waiting for your meeting to begin to take a moment to relax and 'get in the zone'.

during the interview

don't forget to smile 

Every second counts in an interview - even before you meet the hiring manager. From the minute you enter the workplace to the time you exit the building, it is important to appear friendly and outgoing (even if this is not something that comes naturally to you). Make an effort to smile and say hello to everyone you interact with - from the receptionist to the interviewer and anyone in between. Interviewers will often confer with support staff to see if their impression of you matches how you interacted with all who came in contact with you - in fact, many hires have been influenced by the receptionist or administrative staff.

be aware of your body language

You only have one chance to make a positive first impression, and the way a potential employer perceives you in that split second can either make or break an job interview within the first five minutes. Appear friendly and outgoing, and make sure you have a firm, confident handshake from the beginning. Body language provides unconscious messages to your future employer and you can use it to your advantage. In the interview, if you are sitting, sit up straight with your hands visible either crossed lightly in your lap or on the table. Never lie in an interview. You will either get caught out immediately or once you have landed the job - either way dishonesty doesn't sit well with employers. It is better to be honest about your skills and be turned down for the job than to lie and be unable to execute it.

demonstrate your confidence

Self assurance and high self esteem are sought-after attributes employers look for in potential candidates - so even if you tend to be introverted or shy usually, it is imperative that during your interview you make a concerted effort to muster as much confidence as you can. A big factor when it comes to overcoming your fear is by being prepared - even if you are not naturally a confident speaker, if you put in the ground work before you go by researching the company, the role and your interviewer, this will help you to remain calm during the interview. Even if you are not feeling confident you can still outwardly project confidence by maintaining eye contact at all times, and being aware of your posture - try to sit forward in your chair. Keep your voice level and be animated in your body language so that it demonstrates your interest and enthusiasm for the job. These actions can maintain or generate momentum during the interview. This is especially important when you are doing multiple interviews on the same day. The energy level must be as high for the last as it is for the first.

....but don't be arrogant

There is a fine line between  displaying confidence and arrogance. Going into your interview with an aggressive, overbearing attitude may end up losing you the job, as no-one wants to work with someone who is difficult. Try to come across as confident but humble, and avoid behavior that comes across as cocky or know-it-all. 

ask questions

The most effective and successful job interviews are those where an active two-way conversation takes place, so throughout your interview remain alert and responsive. Where possible, ask questions about the role to show your interest & try to interject some of your own personality. This is also where you can show off some of the research from your initial knowledge gathering session. Remember, this is not just an interview for the hiring manager to get to know you, but it's also an opportunity for you to find out if it is really a place where you would like to work so use the time wisely. Get a feel for the company culture as well as the types of benefits you would enjoy as an employee if you were successful in the role. A few strategic questions can demonstrate your intelligence, analytical skills and assertiveness. Some great questions to ask are:

  • Who previously held the position, and what was their reason for leaving?
  • What does success look like in this role?
  • Does the company invest in training for its staff, if so is it internal learning development or offsite?
  • If I were successful in the role, are there opportunities for career advancement & development in the future?
  • I read in ____ that your company is expanding into Asia Pacific - does this mean, if I were to be successful in the role, there would be travel opportunities?
  • What is the team culture like? How many people would I be working with on a day to day basis?

connect the dots

During the interview hiring managers will often ask you to outline your skills and experience from previous roles and then demonstrate how this experience directly relates to the roles and responsibilities outlined for this new job. In your answer, it’s important to show not only that you have completed the required task, but also how you went above and beyond the initial task required to deliver exceptional service. For example, perhaps you helped to solve a customer complaint, but what else did you do on top of this which benefited the company.  Did you help train a fellow employee, or do something that created extra revenue, or save expenses etc -  be specific with the amounts and how you accomplished that goal.

remain positive

A common mistake job seekers make is to make negative comments about their previous job, manager or co-workers. By bringing this up during an interview, it could reflect badly on you and give the hiring manager a false or negative impression of you. It is for this reason that no matter what your reasons are for leaving your last job, during an interview is important to remain neutral. If you are asked directly why you have chosen to leave your previous employer, consider citing factors such wanting as a new career path, or better training opportunities.

wrapping up the interview

reiterate why you're perfect for the role

One of the best ways to wrap up an interview is to be open and upfront about your chances of being successful depending on your interview stage - either in securing another interview, or in securing the job outright. Ask a question such as, "having spoken at length about my experience, do you think my skills match your needs?" You may also want to ask about other applicants - how many other candidates have applied & where do you sit in terms of experience compared to them. This may seem up-front, but so long as you phrase it in a non-aggressive manner, this will demonstrate to your potential employer how serious you are about the role - and also give you an opportunity to counter any reservations that the hiring manager may have about you.

clearly state your interest & ask about next steps

At the end of the interview, it should be apparent by the way you answered the questions as well as your enthusiasm throughout the meeting that you are interested in the role - however it never hurts to reiterate this to your interviewer. Don't go overboard by begging as this will come across as desperate - just state that you are definitely interested in the position and would like to know when the next step will take place.

after the interview

stand out from the pack

A great way to differentiate yourself from other interviewee's is to send an email to the hiring manager after the interview. Don't write an essay - just a simple 2 paragraph email should suffice, where you thank the interviewer for his/her time, express your continued interest in the role, and opening further lines of communication should they have further queries or feedback about you.