Face to face interviews can be very varied; it could be a generic question-answer format or you may be asked to do a presentation, role play, competency tests, group activities or written exercises. Whatever the format, here are 10 tips to help you overcome your nerves and make the most of the experience.
1. Plan your journey
Make sure you know where the interview is, how you are going to get there, where you may need to park or the nearest train/bus station, and what time you therefore need to leave in the morning.
2. Arrive early
Make sure you plan enough time to get there door to door, allowing for any traffic or possible delays. Arrive early if you can; there’s nothing worse than running late and feeling flustered with no time to prepare yourself. Arriving early also gives the interviewer the impression you have good time management skills.
3. Find out the interview format
Make sure you are aware of the format for the day. If the company hasn’t specified, don’t be afraid to ask! This will show initiative and that you are keen to prepare for the interview. Is it a competency based interview or just an informal chat? This will alter the style and types of answers you will be expected to prepare for.
If you’re doing a presentation make sure to ask whether you should bring your laptop or just a memory stick, whether it should be PowerPoint or an alternative format and how long it should be. Then practise practise practise so you don’t trip over your words and you stick to the time allowance given.
Once you have found out the interview style, it is important to look at what kinds of questions they may ask you and think of some ideas around these areas. Generally, a lot of interviewers will use competency based questions to assess your capabilities for the role. A universally recognised technique for these interviews is the “STAR” approach. The acronym STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. This will enable you to provide meaningful and complete answers to questions that are asking for examples. It is easy to apply and the information you give to interviewers will be structured, resulting in them being more receptive to your answers.
5. Do your research
Research into the company, make sure you understand what the company does, what they stand for and the job role you’re applying for; if there are any gaps in the information provided then jot down questions you can ask at the interview.
Keep up to date with current news in the sector you’re applying for. This will help you understand the industry and interviewers will be impressed with your knowledge and your clear interest in the sector.
6. Dress professionally
Even if the company doesn’t specify a dress code, make sure to look professional; do up your top button, straighten your tie, make sure there are no holes in your tights. You won’t get a second chance at a first impression so make sure you get this simple step right.
7. Be friendly and approachable
You may feel like a nervous mess but smile, shake the interviewers hand with confidence and don’t be afraid to engage them in small talk before the interview begins; ask them how they are or be stereotypically British and talk about the weather. This will help you relax but also make you appear more confident to the interviewer.
8. Be concise
During the interview, take your time when answering questions. Don’t be afraid of silent pauses between question and answer. Long wordy answers will have the interviewer drifting off and you’ll both forget what the question was in the first place. Keep your answers concise, highlighting the skills you have to offer, your achievements and the evidence to back these up.
During group exercises make sure you contribute. Don’t talk for the sake of talking, not letting anyone else get a word in, but instead show that you can work in a team to achieve an objective. Encourage those that are a bit quiet to contribute their opinions, make insightful contributions of your own and try to assign yourself a role so assessors will notice you; for example, time keeper, note taker or summarising the conclusions you have made as a group.
10. Be inquisitive
Prepare some questions you can ask at the end to show you are genuinely interested in the company and the role. Don’t ask questions about pay, hours, holiday- save that until you have been offered the job. This is also a chance for you to see if you’re a good fit for the company. Some examples of questions you could ask are:
• What training opportunities are there?
• What opportunities are there to develop and progress in this role and company?
• How would you describe the company culture and working environment?