Career Advice

Tips to Upgrade Your Job Interview Skills

min read
Mikaela Thompson

We all lead busy lives, and it can be tempting to just roll up to a job interview and try to wing it, with little to no prep. Typically, the thinking behind this is, ‘Oh well, my resume will speak for itself’. Rookie mistake and not the reality. How you present yourself face-to-face could sway the interviewer’s decision, either way. Effective interview skills are a combination of science and art that are needed to seal the deal. Underrate these at your own peril! 

So, what do you need? You know, just the ability to articulate your points coherently, cohesively, and cogently, whilst also remaining calm, confident, and personable. Sounds easy enough, right? Perhaps in another situation, but within a job interview, when your anxiety is running high, not so much – even to the seasoned applicant. The means to achieve the appropriate poise when delivering yourself up as the perfect fit comes, first and foremost, through your pre-interview research and practice. An assured confidence comes from knowing the right things to say, in the right manner, at the right time. 

Check off the tips below to set yourself up for success. 

Tips for building effective interview skills.

The preparation:

1) Once you’ve found a posting or lead for a job you want, deconstruct the job description e.g., look carefully at the job description and note the skills, requirements, and responsibilities they’re looking for. Make sure you incorporate the ones you possess, that align with these, in your application, resume and interview discussion. 

2) Research the prospective employer and company thoroughly, especially their values, mission, culture, and recent projects. The best sales pitch is highly personalized to the company and yourself. Be sure to give specific details about how your skills, values, experiences etc. can benefit this company. 

3) Research potential interview questions specific to the position and the industry. Prepare and rehearse answers to these, making sure to tailor them to the company’s needs. Recall specific examples from your work experience, such as major accomplishments, challenges, or milestones that will serve as anecdotes to strengthen your responses to behavioural and situational questions. Ask family, friends, or contacts to give you a mock interview and provide you with constructive feedback, not just about what you say but how you say it e.g., Are you clear and coherent? Do you talk too quickly? etc. If you can’t win them over, you will have little credibility with a highly experienced hiring manager/interviewer.

4) Prepare for any written tests, activities, and/or presentations that may have been mentioned in the job posting. This way, there will be no surprises during the interview, and you will be mentally prepared for it.

4) Plan your interview outfit ahead of time and make sure it’s clean and pressed. It’s a matter of professional courtesy to dress deferentially i.e., formally, irrespective of what may appear to be the company’s dress code.

The Interview:

1) Be on time or early. Tardiness is a red flag to any employer who will have immediate doubts about your professionalism and interest in the job. Set alarms and leave early to avoid transport delays messing you around on the day. If the venue is unfamiliar, use google maps directory, or ask someone who knows the area. To be safe with the timing to get there, take a dummy run a day or two beforehand. 

2) Be respectful and courteous to everyone from the tea lady and receptionist to management and other candidates you may meet. Use positive words and body language to display a professional but friendly demeanour. Don’t bad-mouth anybody or whine about a past job experience. No one wants to hire someone with a bad attitude. You can be fairly sure all eyes will be on you once you enter the building, and it’s important you’re seen as someone who can get on with anybody.

3) Be an active listener to show you’re genuinely interested and can respond appropriately. It’s a little tricky since you need to both listen to the interviewer’s questions while also mentally preparing answers. Don’t just nod and smile without actually listening though, or you could miss crucial information within questions and miss the point entirely. Buy some time by repeating the interviewer’s question, or if you really feel clueless, say what steps you would use to find the answer.

4) Ask questions during the interview, as well as, at the end when, ‘Have you any questions?’ is asked. This is your chance to shine and show how knowledgeable you are about the company and marketplace, as well as gather as much useful information as you can. It’s in your interests to prepare a few interesting open questions about e.g., the company’s future and post-position opportunities etc., before the interview. Make sure they aren’t questions, whose answers can be found easily through the usual channels, such as, the internet and social media platforms.

5) Show gratitude. Courtesy goes a long way and is readily recalled. As soon as the interview has concluded, thank the interviewer/s for their time, input and the opportunity afforded to you. A few days later, send an email or thank you note for their time, advice, and knowledge you were able to apply (give a specific example or two, here). 

Keen to brush up on your interview skills some more? Check out our latest tips here!

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