We all know that the purpose of an interview is quite simple: To convince your interviewer that he/she should select you out of all of the potential candidates. So, unless you are already head and shoulders above the other shortlisted people, your success is dependent upon your performance on the day.
Interview technique consists of many elements that can significantly impact your performance. These include first impressions, visual presentation, expression, body language, attitude, a warmth of manner and most importantly content, structure and length of your answers. Let’s look at how to make the most of each of these factors:
All communication with your potential employer is important. It all counts towards the overall picture of you that they build. Even the small talk in the lift. Remember that our perception is not something that we turn on and off. Make sure you keep your energy levels up and communication positive.
Job interviews require more from you than just conversation. You need to be able to demonstrate the right presentation skills and show you can handle any challenges that the potential employer might throw at you. This is hard to fake – you need to be genuinely confident and business-like. The best way to achieve this? Confidence in the content of your answer!
So, take all opportunities you have to develop yourself. And then plan your answers well (or get help to do so).
Expression and tone of voice
As with any other form of communication, the same thing said in two different ways can mean very different things. You need to leave a positive first impression, and then build upon this consistently as the interview progresses.
Whilst some nervousness is acceptable in an interview – indeed it could be taken as a sign that you care; if you are very shy and just mumble your answers, it is doubtful that the interviewer will be impressed with the content.
Body language is another significant component of effective first impressions. You should sit up straight and exude confidence – but not cockiness. It’s about a genuine business-like approach. So anything you see on The Apprentice can be disregarded. Your gestures should be consistent with your words to portray you as a confident and genuine candidate. Because if you are not confident in yourself, how can a potential employer have confidence in you?
Warmth of manner and attitude
The way you carry yourself throughout the interview helps the interviewer to decide whether or not you would be a good fit for the team.
The aim is to be ‘down to earth’, open, approachable and give the impression of someone who will delight colleagues and customers. Or at least there is no danger of you failing to get along with them.
Content, length and structure of your answers
If you managed to make a great first impression, you need to make it last by giving your interviewer what he/she is looking for in the form of your answers.
Firstly, to make sure your answers are convincing you need to do some preparation. If you have a great CV then it’s easy – you just need to learn this so that you can recall the details of your achievements, scale of your responsibilities etc.
Then you need to make sure you strike the balance of saying enough to score highly in the assessment without talking for so long that you bore the interviewer(s) or suggest to them that you lack self-awareness. We have all met people who talk endlessly about themselves. It’s tedious and it shows a lack of awareness. But at an interview you do have to talk about yourself. My general rule is aim for about a minute for complex questions, but as long as your content is relevant and the interviewers are engaged, you can flex this a little.
In terms of structure, the major thing to avoid is the ‘say everything you can remember and then abruptly stop’ kind of answer. Because of the lack of logical structure, these answers tend not to be very memorable. My two tips for avoiding this are: Answer the question in the first line and then elaborate. Or – give a summary at the end in the form of one line that summarises your answer.
Lastly, keep your answers clear. Avoid being convoluted so that it is easy for your interviewer to make notes, scoring you against their criteria. It will also just make the interview flow better – which benefits both parties.
For more information on how you can perfect your interview technique contact Graeme Jordan - Graeme@GraemeJordanCV.com, 07974219672