Tag Archives: Interview techniques

Tis the season! Holiday job search tips

Article by Belinda Fuller

Tis The SeasonIt’s about this time of year that people begin to think it’s too late to start applying for new roles. Even if you believe you won’t be able to secure a new role between now and the new year, there are things you can (and should) be doing over the festive season to help you gain a great head start come January. Whether you’ve been at it for a while, or are just starting your job search, keep it up during the holidays.

While it may be unlikely you’ll be offered a job between now and the new year, that doesn’t mean you should cease all activity. On the contrary, using this time could pay huge dividends down the track. Here’s our top five things you can do now to help your job search in the new year:

  1. Know what you want: Go through job search sites such as Seek and LinkedIn and search for specific titles, companies, industries and keywords. Play around with combinations and open your search out to other geographical locations or industries to expand results. While the market may be quiet and you might not find exactly what you’re looking for, there’s a strong chance that some positions will be a close match to what you’re after. Read the job ads closely and get a feel for what’s required. Doing this allows you to decide what’s important to include (and just as importantly exclude) from your application – as well as determining if you have any major gaps in your capabilities.
  2. Get organised: Today’s job market is not only competitive, it’s complicated. There are many avenues to tap into – including advertised and unadvertised job markets. Getting organised will help you to more efficiently find and apply for all the positions you may be suitable for. Set up automated job searches, identify relevant recruiters, update your application materials, polish your interview skills, use LinkedIn, check your social media settings, and think about who you could be networking with. Read our previous article Winning Job Search Strategies for detailed tips on developing a structured job search strategy.
  3. Update your materials: This includes your LinkedIn profile, Resume and Cover Letter. Many recruiters use LinkedIn to find suitable candidates, so it’s important to optimise your profile with keywords, so you can be found. Include comprehensive and up-to-date content, a current and professional photo, and try to complete every section. Make sure to leverage the summary section – use it to introduce yourself, provide an overview of your key skills, experience and strengths – a picture of who you are and the value you could bring to an organisation. Your Resume should also be updated and we recommend writing a customised cover letter for every job you apply for – addressing as many ‘job requirements’ as you can. Use the holidays to prepare sample letters and/or paragraphs that can easily be modified to suit specific roles as you apply. While you will have to tailor them for each position, getting these documents into shape now will make the job much easier when the time comes.
  4. Prepare for interviews: The biggest mistake you can make when searching for a new job is not preparing for the interview. Ways you can do this in the holidays include brainstorming the types of questions you might get asked and coming up with some examples that demonstrate your success. Think about examples that demonstrate strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and how you’ve handled different work situations. Having a bank of these examples will ensure you feel more confident and prepared during the stressful interview process. Read our previous article here that talks about using the STAR approach to help you formulate them for an interview.
  5. Network: Think about who you know that you can connect with now. Let your network know you are seeking new opportunities. While it may not be the best time to reach out to everyone who might be of assistance to you in your job search, that doesn’t mean you can’t get the ball rolling. Do your research, brainstorm and scroll through LinkedIn for potential people to contact, then start drafting emails that can be sent in the new year. Be mindful of people taking time off and coming back to an inbox full of emails which may get overlooked – think about your timing before sending. Remember all the different ways to connect with your network and use them – phone calls, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, face-to-face and online networking groups.

Today’s job market is competitive and complex so being organised and prepared will help ensure your success! With so many avenues to pursue, using the quieter holiday period to plan your strategy will ensure you are ready and raring to go in the new year.

Would you would like help developing a winning resume, detailed job search strategy, or professional LinkedIn profile? Perhaps you’d like to work on your interview skills? If so, please see our Resume Writing, Job Search Coaching, and Interview Training services.

The best end to an interview

Article by Belinda Fuller

The best end to an interview

We’ve all been in that position at the end of the interview when you’re just not sure you’ve done enough to stand out as the best possible candidate for the role. It’s a stressful and daunting experience – but a necessary fact of life. The key to success is being prepared. Here’s some ideas on how to end an interview and give yourself the greatest chance of being selected:

  • Ask questions – asking questions in an interview provides an opportunity to find out more about the role and the company, and whether you think it would be a good fit for you. But it also provides the perfect opportunity to showcase your interest, stand out as a great candidate, and make that final positive impression to the interviewer. If you get asked if you have any questions, it’s important to ask at least one! Questions could focus on specific details of the job, the company, the interviewer’s experience with the company, the market, or competitors. Having questions pre-prepared is important but don’t worry if they all get answered during the course of the interview, just say something along the lines of “I did have a list of questions prepared, but you’ve answered all of them, thank you. I was interested to hear you talk about XYZ though, so can you tell me a little bit more about the impact that has on this role?”
  • Address concerns – ask the recruiter outright if they have any specific concerns about your experience, expertise or areas that make them feel you’re not right for the role. This question does take courage to ask but wouldn’t you rather be given the opportunity to address any concerns before leaving the room? Be sure to think about what concerns might be raised before asking this question though. That way you’ll have some idea about what you’re going to say. Examples include gaps in experience or education, frequent switching of jobs, any time periods where you didn’t work etc. On the other hand, if the interviewer has no concerns and says you seem well qualified for the role, thumbs up all round.
  • Sell yourself – a great way to end an interview is by summarising the reasons you’re interested in the role and why you think you’re a good fit. Start by stating how keen you are for the role after being here today, then remind the interviewer of your key capabilities that would be an asset in the role.
  • Cement your interest – don’t leave without making sure the interviewer knows you’re interested. This is one of the most important parts of an interview. If they aren’t sure about your level of interest, they could assume you’ve changed your mind or aren’t a good fit. If you’re interested and want the job, make sure to communicate that. You could say something along the lines of “Thanks for your time today. I really enjoyed hearing more about the role and the company and it’s just reiterated my interest in the role. Can you tell me when you think you might make a decision?”
  • Say thank you – the very last thing you should do is thank them for their time. A follow up email is also a great idea – this can be another way to reaffirm your interest in the role. Keep it brief, concise, professional, and polite. Asking what the timeline for the decision making process is or when you can expect to hear the outcome is also a great wrap up.

Securing an interview is tough, so being prepared and leaving a great first AND last impression is essential. Recruiters use interviews to test candidates’ performance under pressure because people who can think quickly on their feet are an asset in business. Concentrate on the interviewer and make your time count.

Would you like some assistance preparing for a job interview? Are you keen to overcome your nerves and build confidence in order to stand out from other applicants? Our interview coaches have extensive knowledge of current recruitment practices and are experts in their field. For more information, please see our Interview Training & Coaching service.

Common Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Article by Belinda Fuller

Common Interview Questions and How to Prepare for ThemCongratulations if you’ve secured an interview! Now comes the all-important preparation. Even the most confident and fearless individuals can be terrified of interviews. Whilst they can be nerve wracking experiences, taking time to prepare yourself can make all the difference to the outcome.

You have more than likely applied for a role you are qualified for, you think you have the experience and skills to succeed, and you like the sound of the role or company – so making an effort to prepare as best as you can prior to the interview will give you the best chance of success. Depending on the type of role, level, and company you’re interviewing with, the questions will vary, however to help you get started with your preparation, we’ve provided 10 common questions with suggestions on how to respond:

  1. Tell me about yourself. The recruiter is looking for a brief summary about you and is interested in your professional background – not your hobbies, relationship status, and favourite foods. Try summarising recent professional achievements in less than two minutes, and relate what you say back to the role you are interviewing for so the recruiter can immediately recognise your potential value. Include a summary of qualifications as well if that’s important to this role.
  2. Why do you want to work for us? It’s essential to research the company and role beforehand and have a good strong answer to this question. You could talk about the market the company is in, your interest in that area, the role itself, and what appeals to you. Relate your future aspirations to the position, then reiterate why you’d be an asset in the role. Make sure you understand the company and role and discuss specific aspects so the recruiter recognises you are genuine about working there.
  3. Tell me about a time you improved on something. This question is a great one to prepare for using the STAR technique. It could relate to anything – a process, a relationship, an approach, or a competitive situation. Identify a relevant example beforehand and make sure to include just enough detail about what you did, why you did it, and how you did it, then summarise the eventual positive outcome.
  4. Why do you want to leave your current role? Focus your response on the fact you are seeking new or greater opportunities, responsibilities and/or challenges. If you’re trying to break into a new industry, mention it and the reasons why, then try making a link to the new focus. For example, you could showcase why you think you’ll succeed in this new area, based on what you’ve achieved previously, and how you want to extend yourself.
  5. What are your strengths? The interviewer is looking for your strongest qualities that relate to the role you are applying for. We suggest providing three key strengths with examples that demonstrate those strengths in action.
  6. What are your weaknesses? Most employers don’t want to hear something basic like “I’m a perfectionist”, or “I work too late”! The most important part of this question is to emphasise what you’ve done to overcome and/or mitigate your weakness. This question is all about how you turn your answer into a positive.
  7. Describe a time when your best laid plans didn’t work out. Give a specific example of a particularly difficult situation you encountered in the workplace. Again, prepare for this question using the STAR technique so you can discuss what went wrong, how you went about resolving the issue, and the eventual outcome. Ensure the outcome is positive though – don’t use negative examples and show the interviewer what or how you learnt from the experience for next time.
  8. Do you have any questions for us? This is one of the most important interview questions you can prepare for. It’s essential you have some well thought out questions prepared. It not only demonstrates your interest in the role and the company – but will also help you decide if you want to work there. Your questions could focus on the company and its future direction, the industry, competitors, recent news or events, the department’s direction and how it fits with company strategy, why the incumbent is leaving or where the work has come from (for newly created roles), the expectations of the role, scope for expansion down the track, performance expectations, success measurements, company culture, the timeline for a decision and/or next steps in the recruitment process.
  9. Why should we hire you? The best way to respond to this question is with specific examples of your skills and accomplishments that relate directly to the role. Compare the job description with your expertise, maintain a positive approach and showcase the value you could provide.
  10. What do you know about us? Again, it’s important to research the company so you can respond in an intelligent way to this question. Check their website and social media pages to see the latest promotions and information being shared. Look up the person or people interviewing you on LinkedIn to gain some insight into their interests and background as well.

Preparing in advance by doing some research about the company, the role, and the people who are interviewing you will ensure you put your best foot forward in the interview.  Of course, interviews are two-way and while the interviewer needs to determine if you are right for the company, you should also assess whether the company is right for you. Feeling confident and in control is all about preparation, so do as much as you can.

Do you struggle with nerves or knowing how to answer questions in interviews? If so, Interview Training can help prepare you for your next job interview. Please see our Interview Coaching Services for more information.

How to Prepare for a Video Interview

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Prepare for a Video InterviewThis modern method of recruitment is becoming more and more common since it can save the company significant time, effort, and money in the process. So if you’re faced with the prospect of a video interview, what’s the best way to prepare?

Preparing yourself for a video or Skype interview is possibly even more involved than preparing for a face-to-face interview. The interview will still require face-to-face time with the recruiter, so everything you’d do to prepare for that is the same, but you also have the added technical aspects of using Skype or another software program.

Here’s our top tips to help you succeed:

  • Dress to impress. When it comes to clothing, treat your video interview like a face-to-face interview and dress professionally from head to toe. Don’t be tempted to leave your PJs on the bottom half just in case you need to get up for some reason during the interview.
  • Make a good first impression. If the video is being conducted over Skype, review your Skype profile to make sure your name and picture are professional. Unlike face-to-face interviews, the recruiter’s first impression of you is not actually you – it’s your username and photo, so check for suitability and simply create a new one if you think it’s warranted.
  • Practice. As we know, technology doesn’t always work properly. Familiarise yourself with the video platform if you don’t use it very often. Know your username, the recruiter’s username, and do a run through with a friend or family member beforehand if you can, so you can test all the different settings, audio volumes etc.
  • Check your background. Make sure your backdrop is clean, tidy and uncluttered. Keeping it neutral ensures the recruiter won’t be distracted.
  • Close other programs. Annoying sounds from emails arriving or Facebook notifications are distracting and unprofessional. To ensure this doesn’t happen, close all applications and programs down before the interview starts.
  • Avoid interruptions. If you are somewhere with other people or pets, make sure you arrange for a quiet space beforehand. It’s very unprofessional to have to shoo away a dog or respond to a child while you’re mid-sentence in an interview. If you have children, organise a babysitter like you would for a face-to-face interview. Likewise, with dogs or other animals, put them outside, or place yourself in a room where the door can be closed (but beware of barking or crying dogs!).
  • Check your body language. Since the recruiter can usually only see your head and shoulders, your upper body language is extremely important. Make sure to smile, maintain good posture and avoid stiffness or awkwardness. You should also regularly check the recruiter’s body language to ensure they are still engaged in the interview.
  • Keep notes in easy reach. Keep a copy of your Resume and any notes or questions you’d like to ask handy. It’s ok to look down from time to time, but it really will impact on your connection if you do it too often. If you need notes, it’s good to have them in front of you if you can – a few post-it notes around the screen can work well since they won’t require you to look down too much. Again experiment in your test call to see what works best for you.

Job interviews – whether they are face-to-face, via Skype or some other electronic format – are vital to the job application process. It is your chance to really stand out from other candidates and show why you’d be ideal for the role. In terms of the two different approaches – preparation is key and as you can see, a little more preparation is required for video interviews.

Do you struggle with nerves during interviews? Would you be interested in some Interview Training to help you prepare for your next interview (whether it be via video or face-to-face)? If so, please see our Interview Coaching Services.

What to Wear to an Interview

Article by Belinda Fuller

What to Wear to an InterviewWhile business attire is generally a lot more relaxed than say 20 years ago, a bit of effort with what you wear to an interview will go a long way. That may mean dressing a little more conservatively than you might do if you were heading out for a night on the town – but first impressions are extremely important in an interview.

If you are currently preparing for an interview, congratulations! There’s lots to think about but focusing some of your preparation time on working out what to wear is a great idea. Our main tip is to find out what the company’s dress code is – then dress slightly smarter than that to show you have made an effort. You don’t however want to appear overdressed and uncomfortable. If you’re going for an interview in a very casual environment and you turn up in a suit and tie, you may not feel confident and that will only jeopardise your chances.

Since workplace dress standards are so varied these days, I’ve broken it into three categories – professional, business or smart casual, and casual. These outfit ideas are just suggestions of what might work for each category – work out where the company fits and then base what you wear around these ideas.

Professional Attire:

  • For women: a dark suit (could be a skirt or pants, but make sure the skirt is long enough for you to sit down comfortably), coordinated shirt/blouse, conservative shoes, limited jewellery, professional hairstyle, optional neutral pantyhose, light make-up and perfume, neat nails with clear or conservative coloured polish, and a portfolio or briefcase with any notes you want to take.
  • For men: a dark coloured suit, long sleeve shirt (white or conservative colour coordinated to match your suit), belt, tie, dark socks, conservative leather shoes, neat hair, limited cologne or aftershave, neatly trimmed nails, and a portfolio or briefcase with any notes you want to take.

Business Casual Attire:

  • For women: casual tailored pants or a skirt (no elastic waists or tights), a knit top or shirt, neat leather shoes, boots, ballet flats or similar, an optional blazer or tailored cardigan, light make-up and perfume, neat nails, and a portfolio or satchel with any notes you want to take.
  • For Men: cotton or more casual style pants, long sleeved button-down shirt, polo or knit top with a collar, leather shoes, belt, neat hair, limited cologne or aftershave, neatly trimmed nails, and a portfolio or satchel with any notes you want to take.

Casual Attire:

Whilst a casual dress code is fairly open – anything doesn’t necessarily go! Make sure you are still tidy looking and that your clothes aren’t worn or shabby.

  • For Women: a pair of smart jeans, a plain top or tailored t-shirt, and a jacket works well. You could wear a smart pair of open toe sandals, but a simple ballet flat or smart casual lace up works better. Again it’s best to wear light make-up and perfume, ensure your nails are neat, and you could carry any notes in a portfolio, satchel, or a nice tote bag.
  • For Men: again a pair of smart jeans, a nice t-shirt, and a casual jacket (optional), shoes should be closed in, clean and not too worn. Again make sure your hair and nails are neat, don’t overwhelm with cologne or aftershave, and carry notes in any type of satchel, portfolio or folder.

Regardless of the dress code and type of role you are going for, pay attention to your overall look. There are some things you should never wear, and certain things to pay attention to, including:

  • Not wearing anything too revealing, skimpy, or skin-tight
  • Choosing moderate, neat and clean shoes and definitely no thongs
  • Limiting jewellery
  • Making sure your hair is neat
  • Not wearing too much makeup
  • Using a light perfume/cologne/aftershave
  • Ensuring nails are neat and manicured

First impressions are very important in an interview so a little bit of time taken to plan what you’re going to wear is important. It could go a long way in determining who will get the job!

Do you struggle to work out what to wear to an interview? If you would like assistance with preparing for a job interview, to build confidence and increase your success rate, see our Interview Skills Training service.

10 mistakes to avoid in an interview

Article by Belinda Fuller

10 Mistakes to Avoid in an InterviewMost people admit to being nervous going into a job interview – in fact many would say there is nothing more nerve racking than a job interview. Recruiters don’t usually go out of their way to make candidates feel uncomfortable; however creating a tough interview experience can challenge candidates to perform under pressure. What are the biggest mistakes made, and how can you avoid them?

If your application was a success and you’ve secured an interview – congratulations! That’s a great achievement in today’s competitive job market! If you’re feeling uneasy about the interview, you’re not alone. Make these mistakes and it could cost you the job.

MISTAKE # 1 – Not knowing much about the company – you will most likely be asked what you know about the company and why you want to work there. This should be one of the easiest questions to answer – if you’ve done your research. Review the company website, LinkedIn, Facebook and other Social Media pages before your interview. Get a feel for the company culture and how it matches your values – workplace culture is very important and an area of increasing focus for employers to ensure candidates are a good long term fit. Use or review the company’s products if appropriate. Do a ‘google’ search so you can read recent media articles that are not controlled by the company. This often uncovers issues or situations that may be appropriate to discuss.

MISTAKE # 2 – Not being well prepared – it’s amazing how many people don’t recall what they did in previous roles. It isn’t acceptable to say “it was so long ago, I can’t really recall”. Under pressure, you can’t just ‘wing an interview’. Taking time to prepare by reviewing your job history and creating quick mental or physical lists of areas to discuss is essential. 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.

MISTAKE # 3Not dressing appropriately – dress neatly and ensure you are well groomed. The actual attire you wear will vary depending on the role and company but if you research the company first, you can decide what would be expected. If unsure, err on the more conservative side.

MISTAKE # 4 – Arriving late and/or flustered – work out where you’re going and how you’re getting there before you leave. If you’re catching public transport, catch the earlier service. If you’re driving, know where the parking is and allow extra time in case of last minute problems. There is nothing worse than arriving red faced after running to make it on time or, worse still, arriving late. It really does give a lasting negative first impression.

MISTAKE # 5 – Lying or stretching the truth – not knowing your true value could lead to the temptation to stretch the truth. Be prepared to talk about yourself, recent projects, and accomplishments so when you are asked, you have some accurate things to say. Focus on achievements made for current or past employers and demonstrate how you’ve handled different types of scenarios. If you’re asked if you’re good at something that you’re not – be honest, but give it a positive spin if you can. You could say something like “Well I wouldn’t call myself a whiz, but I have been learning more recently, and have been able to solve some fairly complex issues.”

MISTAKE # 6 Making non-verbal mistakes – body language is one of the most important aspects of an interview with many psychologists believing non-verbal communication can reveal more about what we are thinking than what we actually say. It is therefore essential to pay close attention to your body language – so it supports what you are saying. In summary, pay attention to the following: smile, limit hand gestures while talking, retain good posture, maintain eye contact (but don’t stare), don’t cross your arms, match your facial expression to what you’re saying, and avoid fidgeting. For more information, read our previous article – Body Language – 8 Tips for Interview Success.

MISTAKE # 7 – Bad-mouthing a previous employer – this is never appropriate. All it does is make you look like someone who might be difficult to work with. If you accidentally say something negative about a former employer – simply say “Let me re-phrase that” and move on with a more positive approach.

MISTAKE # 8 – Talking too much about what you want – and not about what you can offer. Ensure your answers are succinct and to the point. Research common interview questions and practice appropriate answers before-hand, so you have an idea of what you might say in response to different questions. Understanding the company, the role, and the needs you meet is key to being able to successfully talk about what you can offer in the role.

MISTAKE # 9 – Failing to differentiate yourself – being able to set yourself apart is essential. Identify your unique skills and qualities and again practice 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.

MISTAKE # 10 – Not asking for the job – if you’re interested, show it, and say so. You could also follow the recruiter up with a short email to reiterate your keenness.

Securing an interview is tough these days, so being prepared is essential. Recruiters use interviews to test candidates’ performance under pressure because people who think quickly are an asset in business. Concentrate on the interviewer and the questions they are asking. You only get one chance to impress, so make it count.

Would you like some assistance to prepare for a job interview? Are you keen to overcome your nerves, build confidence and increase your success rate? If so, please see our Interview Skills Training service.

Asking intelligent questions in an interview

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to ask intelligent questions in an interviewDo you get tongue tied in interviews when asked ‘do you have any questions?’ Are you worried about asking the ‘wrong’ question? In an interview, you want to make sure you ask questions when given the opportunity – but they need to be well thought out. You want to show that you’d work well in the role and you’re compatible with the company culture.

If you’re afraid of looking foolish by asking the wrong question, read our tips and take the time to prepare prior to your interview. 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. Here are some areas to focus on:

  • The Company: even just a quick Internet search will provide you with enough information about the company to formulate some intelligent questions. This shows interest and preparation and will help you to better understand some of the challenges the company might currently be facing. Questions could be quite general, or focus on a specific area of concern or something currently/recently in the news. Examples: What affect has ‘the recent issue’ had on the company? How does this company differentiate itself from its competitors? What changes do you anticipate in the industry and how will these impact the role?
  • The Role: You want to gain a good insight into the position, the expectations and what you’d be doing on a day to day basis, but you should also try to gain an understanding of where the role is headed and its scope for expansion down the track. Examples: What are the essential capabilities/qualifications/experience to achieve success in this role? What is the company’s vision for this role? What were the strengths/weaknesses of the previous incumbent? Why is this position vacant – has the previous person left/been promoted? Will I have an opportunity to meet those who would be part of my staff/my manager/my team during the interview process? What do you see as the most important performance criteria for this role in the next six months/12 months/2 years?
  • Success Factors: You want to understand how the company measures success and what impact this role has on the company’s overall success. This demonstrates that you are able to think strategically and understand that every role has an impact on the company’s bigger picture. Examples: How do you evaluate success here? How would you describe the company’s culture?
  • The End Result: You will be keen to understand the timeline for the company’s decision making process and you shouldn’t leave without gaining this. Walking out of an interview without this understanding can be very frustrating. Waiting isn’t fun, and not knowing when to follow up a recruiter is hard. You could also offer the best way to contact you and confirm your enthusiasm to progress to the next stage. Examples: What is the company’s timeline for making a decision? What are the next steps that need to be taken before you make your decision about who to offer the role to? When can I expect to hear back from you? Is there anyone else I need to meet with? Is there anyone else that you would recommend I talk to? Is there any other information I can provide?

Many of our clients think of interviews as a chance for recruiters to grill them relentlessly to test their suitability for a role. However the best interviews are two-way streets. Be prepared and ask some of your own well thought-out targeted questions and listen to the interviewer’s responses so you can clarify areas that don’t make sense. By doing this, you will demonstrate just how much of an asset you could be in the role. Make sure not to ask about something that has already been addressed, since this may hinder rather than help your chances.

Do you struggle with formulating intelligent questions to ask in an interview? Would you like assistance deciding what areas to focus on? If so see, please see our Interview Coaching and Interview Training Services.

Interview mistakes that could cost you the job

Article by Belinda Fuller

The process of interviewing candidates has changed significantly in recent years. Where previously, you could have potentially predicted the types of questions you’d be asked and prepared by learning some great responses, this is no longer the case. Make these mistakes and it could cost you the job.

Most people would agree they get nervous before a job interview – in fact many would say that there is nothing more nerve racking than job interviews. Recruiters don’t generally go out of their way to make candidates feel uncomfortable; however creating a tough interview experience can challenge candidates to think and perform under pressure. Despite this, many job seekers make it worse by not properly preparing. Many of the following common interview mistakes can be avoided:

1.  Not knowing much about the company: Being asked what you know about the company should be one of the easiest questions in an interview – if you’ve done your research. Always review the company website, LinkedIn, Facebook and other Social Media pages. Use or review the company’s products if appropriate. Do a ‘google’ search so you can review media that is not controlled by the company. This could highlight issues or situations the company is currently involved in. Try to also gain an understanding of the company culture and how that matches your own values – workplace culture is very important in terms of the interview and this is one area the interviewer may focus their attention on to ensure you provide a good fit for the company.

2.  Not being confident with your own information: It’s amazing how many people don’t recall employment dates or what they did in previous roles. Review your resume and make sure you have a good recollection of your experience, the timeline of roles, skills you’ve developed and successes in each role. It isn’t acceptable to say “it was so long ago, I can’t really recall”. Put together a list of accomplishments in each role that you can quickly and confidently discuss. Don’t just focus on the roles that interest you or that you feel are the best fit. Be prepared to discuss any part of your background if pinpointed by the recruiter. Taking time to review your history and create a quick list will refresh your memory and help prepare you to discuss experiences and accomplishments that you may have otherwise forgotten in an interview situation.

3.  Turning weaknesses into positives: If you’re asked about your weaknesses – resist the temptation to say “I’m a perfectionist”, “I work too hard” or something equally as clichéd. A better way to approach this question is to think seriously about a weak point or something you have previously struggled with and what you’re doing to improve it or enhance your skills in that area. Interviewers are not really trying to trip you up with this question – they just want to make sure you’re a good fit for the role.

4.  Not asking questions: At some point during most interviews, you will be asked if you have any questions. Having none can make you appear uninterested and unprepared. Before the interview, put together a list of relevant questions. It’s acceptable to take some notes in with you to refer to if you think you may forget. Ideas for your questions could include areas of the role you’d like to know more about, the current or previous person in the role and their career, the interviewer’s career, how long they’ve been with the company, what they like about working for the company, a current situation with the company or market, what the recruiter sees as the biggest challenge in the role etc.

5.  Being negative and/or switching off: Make the effort to show you are positive and enthusiastic by remaining attentive and upbeat – don’t come across as bored or uninterested. Concentrate on the interviewer and the questions they are asking. You only get one chance to impress, so make it count. If you find yourself becoming distracted, make a conscious effort to re-engage with the interviewer. Maintain eye contact, lean forward in your chair and sit up straight – this takes more effort and concentration and helps you to remain alert. Also remember that no matter how much you disliked your last job, boss or colleagues, this is not the time or place to discuss it. You should never criticise or undermine a past supervisor or company as the recruiter may get the impression that you’d be difficult to work with.

Securing an interview these days can be tough, so make sure you fully prepare for it. The bottom line is that you don’t get a second chance to impress at an interview. Recruiters use the interview to test candidates’ thinking and performance under pressure because people who can think quickly in business are an asset. If you want to succeed in an interview, preparation is key – it will help you feel more confident and will show in your performance.

If you would like assistance from an Interview Coach with preparing for a job interview, to overcome your nerves, build confidence and increase your success rate, please see our Interview Coaching and Training service.

Interview Questions You Need to Prepare For

Article by Belinda Fuller

Interview Questions You Need to Prepare ForEven for the most confident and fearless individuals, job interviews can be terrifying. In order to have the best chance of success, many candidates prepare answers to long lists of questions they perceive as being challenging to answer. One issue with this approach is that it can be difficult to predict exactly what line of questioning a recruiter will take and the process may leave you feeling more anxious with long lists of questions and answers that you’ve tried hard to memorise. Worse still, you could end up sounding false and/or over prepared in the interview.

A great way to prepare for an interview is to think about the following three key areas and then try to relate each question back to them:

What are the skills and experience required to excel in the role? By thinking about this question and relating your own expertise back to it, you can answer many questions fired at 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. Once you have prepared for this question you can more succinctly answer many standard questions without going off on a tangent. Questions such as tell me about yourself, why should we hire you, what can you offer us that other candidates can’t, and what challenges might you face in the role, all relate back to the skills and expertise you possess to ensure success in the role.

What is the company, industry and market going through? Finding out as much as you can about the company and its industry in general will help you demonstrate enthusiasm and interest. Having an understanding of the company’s market position, strategy, where it’s headed, current industry and economic influences etc. will help you to answer the obvious questions like what do you know about the company and why do you want to work here, but will also help with more difficult questions such as how your ambitions fit with the company’s, where you see the company heading/succeeding, what challenges you think the company or industry is facing, and why you think the role is a good fit for you.

What is the company culture? Whether or not you are a good cultural fit is a key area of focus for recruiters because many candidates are a perfect fit in terms of qualifications, background and experience, however their personality and/or work style will preclude them from succeeding. Every company has their own unique way of working – establishing this cultural fit with candidates is an important part of the overall recruitment process. As a candidate, it can be difficult to determine the detail behind a company’s culture, but it helps to talk to other employees (past and present) if you can. If you’re applying for a job through a recruitment company, talk to the recruiter before interviewing with the client – they should be able to help. If all else fails, you can research online. A specific site that might help is a site called Glassdoor where employees provide reviews of what it’s like to work for certain companies – of course the data is only as good as the people contributing and it is largely opinion based, so take it in the context it’s provided and don’t assume 100% accuracy. Once you have an understanding of the company’s culture you’ll be able to answer questions that focus on your work style, how you’d describe yourself, how your colleagues or superiors would describe you, and what makes you an ideal candidate for the role.

Of course, interviews are two-way and while the interviewer needs to determine if you are right for the company, you should also assess whether the company is right for you. Prepare questions focused on the same key areas – ask about training and development opportunities and how you could improve your skills and expertise, discuss recent company news or events, the department’s direction and how that fits with the company strategy, and ask why the incumbent is leaving the role OR for a newly created role, where has the work come from? Feeling confident and in control is all about preparation, so do as much as you can.

Do you struggle with nerves or knowing how to answer questions in interviews? If you would like assistance with preparing for a job interview, see our Interview Skills Training and Coaching Service.

How to Build Instant Rapport in an Interview

Article by Belinda Fuller

How.to.Build.Instant.Rapport.in.an.Interview

If you’ve ever felt instantly comfortable with a recruiter, you’ll know it’s got a lot to do with rapport. According to its definition, rapport is ‘a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well’. You might think that’s difficult to achieve with someone you have just met, but it may be simpler than you think.

There are several strategies you can employ to help. These include making a good first impression, being prepared, taking an interest, and ensuring the interviewer sees how you ‘fit’ their organisation.

It is well-known that we are naturally attracted to people who are similar to ourselves. When you build a good rapport with someone, the similarities are emphasised and the differences are minimised – which is a great basis for a successful interview. Here are some strategies you could use:

Make a Good First Impression: Whether you agree or not, the interviewer will make some initial judgements about you before you even speak. These ideas will be formed within the first few seconds of seeing you. Give yourself the best possible chance of making a good first impression by arriving on time, or a little early so you’re not flustered or rushed. Dress neatly and make sure you are well groomed. Research the company and work out what attire is most appropriate. Look the interviewer in the eye, use their name, smile and greet them warmly and sincerely. Shake hands firmly.

Show Your Interest in the Role: Research the company and role before the interview so you can demonstrate your knowledge and interest during the interview. Ask questions, comment on a new product/service or recent announcement. Be prepared to talk about yourself. The whole process is about YOU and YOUR suitability for the role. Spend some time brainstorming strengths, weaknesses, recent projects, and accomplishments so when you are asked about yourself, you have something to say. Focus on achievements you made in current or previous roles and demonstrate how you handle different scenarios.

Listen More and Talk Less: There isn’t much worse than a candidate who rambles without really saying anything. Concentrate on the interviewer and listen carefully to the questions they ask. If you find yourself becoming distracted, make an effort to re-engage with the interviewer. Maintain eye contact, lean forward in your chair and sit up straight – don’t slouch or lean back. This will take more effort and concentration and help you to remain alert. Ensure your answers are succinct and to the point. Research common interview questions and practice appropriate answers beforehand, so you have an idea of how you might respond to different questions.

Match Your Body Language: Successful rapport often stems from matched body language which encompasses all forms of nonverbal communication such as facial expressions, energy levels, posture, eye contact, hand gestures and general body position and movement. The technique of “matching” someone else’s body language can be used to support your story and more quickly establish the idea in the recruiter’s mind that you are a ‘good organisational fit’. It can be a powerful technique in an interview but could also be perceived as mimicking or intimidating by the recruiter if done in an obvious way. Simply take note of the recruiter’s voice tone, speed and volume as well as their energy and enthusiasm levels, body posture and gestures. This is a good place to start. Try to also pick up on the recruiter’s level of detail when answering questions – are they detail or big picture oriented? Incorporate your observations and provide your responses in a similar way.

Establishing instant rapport is something that can be done with practice. Do you lack confidence or are you nervous during interviews? This can create a barrier to achieving rapport which is why preparation is key. Research the organisation and the role, prepare standard responses to questions you know you’ll get asked, and watch your body language.

If you would like an Interview Coach to help you prepare for an upcoming job interview, please see our Interview Training and Coaching Services.