We often talk about preparing for interviews – it really is one of the most important parts of the whole job application process – one we find is regularly overlooked. While it’s great to be prepared, it’s important to remember the vital part of connecting with your interviewer. So what’s the best way to prepare without sounding rehearsed?
We hear about it often from both recruiters and candidates – bombing out at an interview as a result of ill preparation. You may be the best candidate for the role, but if you don’t perform well in the interview, it’s unlikely you’ll progress. Whilst it is important to prepare and practise responses, there is a danger that you can sound overly rehearsed. You want to sound confident and articulate but not robotic or false. Here’s our tips to help you strike the balance.
- Practise a few different ways of introducing yourself – many interviews start off with some form of ‘tell me a bit about yourself’. It’s important to tailor this response based on the role, company, interviews and the recruitment stage you’re at. However, having three or four versions that you can tailor is a good place to start. Then before each interview, research the company, role and interviewer so you can work out where your focus should be.
- Don’t memorise scripted answers – by all means identify the types of questions you might be asked and prepare standard responses but instead of specific responses, use key concepts, words and phrases that you can draw upon depending on the question and direction of conversation. Think about the key skills and experience required to excel in the role and relate your own expertise back to that. If you identify all the technical or specialist skills, qualifications and experience you need as well as the ‘soft’ or generic skills required – areas such as communication, leadership, teamwork, flexibility, and initiative – then prepare mini stories that demonstrate that skill – you should be prepared to answer any question that is asked.
- Prepare notes on your job history with key areas to discuss – candidates often can’t recall what they did in previous roles, particularly if some time has passed. Review your job history and create quick mental or physical lists of areas to discuss so you can quickly and confidently answer questions about specific roles. A better option is to prepare mini success stories that demonstrate the value you provided – have these on hand to help you articulate your experiences and accomplishments more clearly.
- Work out what differentiates you – being able to set yourself apart is essential. Identify your unique skills and qualities and again practise talking about them. You’ve landed an interview and now it’s time to impress. Don’t come across as bored or uninterested – make an effort to show your positive approach and explain why you’re different to others.
- Prepare some questions – asking informed, well thought-out questions will demonstrate to the interviewer that you are interested in the role and the company – while helping you to gather some information that’s going to be useful in making a decision about whether or not you really want to work there. Asking questions in an interview won’t make you appear rude or arrogant – quite the opposite in fact – it’s the perfect way to show off several of the most important traits that recruiters are looking for. Focus on the company, the industry, the role and its performance criteria, company culture, how they measure success, and the company’s timeline for making a decision regarding the appointment. And don’t be afraid to take a list of questions with you – it shows you’re prepared and interested.
- Build rapport – remember that a job interview is essentially a person-to-person conversation so make sure to use positive body language, eye contact, and a strong hand shake to engage the interviewer and build rapport. Leave a good first impression by arriving on time or a little early, unflustered with immaculate grooming and dress. It’s not just the content that matters but how you say it – smile and show passion, excitement and enthusiasm when you talk.
It is possible to be well prepared for a job interview without sounding overly rehearsed. Try some of our suggested tips to help build your confidence while ensuring your personality still shines through.
Do you struggle to perform well during interviews? If you would like assistance with preparing for a job interview, build confidence and increase your success rate, see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.