So you've got the interview, it's time to improve your interview skills

What you have to do next is PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE.

When you think you've finished preparing do a bit more work on your interview skills. Your aim is to come out of that interview feeling good about yourself and believing that you gave it your best shot. Yes, there might be an odd answer which you could have phrased in a better fashion, but the only way to achieve your aim is through PREPARATION.

Throughout this page, click on the links for more detailed information.

First, you must do your research. Don't be caught out.

Next, do you really know yourself? Who are YOU?

Next, start thinking like the interviewer to enhance your interview skills. Put yourself in their shoes. What questions are they going to ask?

In recent years, a lot of emphasis has been placed on behavioural interviewing. It's all based around past behaviour being a predictor of future behaviour. You are expected to give examples of how you have reacted in certain situations. For this type of interviewing to be effective, two things have to be in place, in my opinion. These are:

  • the interviewers must be trained properly
  • you should be given the questions in advance so that you can prepare the best example.

Unfortunately, the above rarely happens. Nevertheless, you can still prepare answers to questions addressing a set of general attributes, some or all of which are required by employers. These are:

  • teamwork
  • interpersonal skills
  • analytical ability/judgement
  • leadership/achievement
  • values
  • integrity

Next, what are the questions that interviewers shouldn't ask, but do? In formulating your responses to all questions, practice is important but don't rehearse a given script. Always listen to the question and adjust your answer accordingly. Brief silences are fine while you think about your answer, and it is perfectly acceptable to have your notes (and a copy of your résumé) on your lap. At all times be yourself and don't waffle. Interviewers often allocate a fixed period for the interview and you don't want to waste the opportunity you've been given.

Towards the end of the interview, you should be given the opportunity to ask a few of your own questions. Here's some to consider.

Is there a typical interview structure? One would like to think so. If an interview is conducted professionally, expect it to take this format:

  • Greeting/introductions
  • Interviewer states agenda
  • “Warm up” questions asked
  • Probing questions asked
  • Candidate asks questions
  • Interviewer sells the company/job
  • Discuss next steps
  • Close

Finally, it goes without saying that you should get to the venue early so that you are in a relaxed state of mind. Ease those nerves with some deep breathing, turn off your mobile phone, and visualise yourself coming out of the interview having done your best. Much as you believe in yourself, it is only through thorough preparation that you will do yourself justice.

Employers don't want to know what you've done but what difference you've made