Know your stuff, be engaged and shine at your job interview

business job interview office

This month I’m sharing my learnings on how to shine at interview, gained from interviewing hundreds of graduates, managers and leaders in nearly 15 years of working within HR and recruitment.

Start by doing your research into the target employer’s proposition. Get out into their stores or concessions, experience all of their different formats, including online, as a customer, and contrast this to competitors. Ask friends, family and neighbours for their opinions; read a variety of magazines (such as the one you are reading now!) to get a broader perspective. Identify three or four interesting insights from your research and consider the implications for the role/department/company you have applied to.

Next, prepare examples of how you demonstrate the organisation’s ethos or values, found on its company or careers website. These examples need to be different to each other and sufficiently complex. What was the situation? What was your role and how did you carry it out? What was the outcome? Most importantly, how have you used the learnings from this example? The interviewer will be looking for future potential as well as the job vacancy, so will be very interested in the ‘how’ not just the ‘what’.

Bring positive energy into the interview. Wear an outfit that is professional and makes you feel your best. If you’re waiting, take some deep breaths, inhaling positive beliefs and exhaling negative ones. Believe that you are the best person for the role and treat the interview as your platform to showcase why.

Build rapport with your interviewers. This will be seen as a good indication of how you will build relationships. Greet them with a welcoming handshake and/or smile, and ask how they are. Maintain eye contact during the interview and respond enthusiastically to questions. Treat it as a conversation: be natural and flowing.

At the end, ask questions you are genuinely interested in the answers to. A good question will generate an interesting discussion. Demonstrate your curiosity, breadth of thinking and desire to work for the company by asking thoughtful, open questions. The information you gain will also help you decide if this really is the right role and organisation for you - the interview is a two-way process, after all.

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