Are you ready for your next Big Interview?
You’ll probably have loads of interviews throughout your life; for jobs, internships, scholarships, placements in programs, the list is pretty much endless.
Sometimes those interviews will mean everything to you (or at least it will feel that way), other times you could know you’ve already just about got the job, or even not be sure you really want it.
The key with interviews is to treat them all as practical training.
With each interview, you’ll improve a little; get slightly less nervous, develop your handshake, learn how to respond to curly questions, even how to prepare before you go.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing like experience to prepare you for another interview, and no amount of practising with a friend can make up for the real thing.
Which is why it’s a good idea to treat every interview like a learning experience. Take notes on how you went, where you think you need to improve, and if you’re feeling really comfortable you could even ask the interviewer for their thoughts on your performance (but maybe save that for the less important interviews).
Here at MHSCareers, we’ve gone through a few interviews over the years. That’s why we’ve put together our Top 5 Interview Tips for our students:
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Sure, you know enough about the company or position to want to apply, but how much do you actually know?
If your interviewer wants to check if you’re really interested in their job (because they know you’ve probably applied for a few others), they may ask you questions about the company to test your knowledge and see if you’re committed.
See if you can discover a few things about the company:
- if they’ve had any recent successes or major setbacks
- who is in charge, and what they’re focused on
- how the company or department is structured, and where your role will fit in
- their main products or services
- what they’re looking for in a candidate
DRESS TO IMPRESS
But remember you need to impress the interviewer, not your friends.
Even if you feel uncomfortable in formal business clothes, remember that you’ll be expected to look after your appearance if you get the role as a representative of their company or university.
Try to keep things simple and while it’s totally fine to look like ‘yourself’, make sure you look professional enough to suit the role you’ve applied for.
A level of nervousness is normal (and if you’re too confident the interviewer may wonder if you really want the job), but try to keep as calm as possible. It’ll allow you to give clearer answers, and take in more of what the interviewer is asking.
Most interviewers aren’t out to ‘get you’, and want you to do well. If you’re finding it difficult to relax, here are some ideas:
- Take some time before the interview to meditate or think quietly by yourself; at home, on the train, or even in the waiting room
- If you’re feeling very nervous at the start of the interview take a few deep breaths before you walk in to calm yourself
- Try to slow down – we often speed up when nervous, so remember to speak slowly and pause when you can
- Keep your focus; after all, it’s only an interview. If you don’t get this one, there are many more you can apply for
Interviews are rarely one-way streets. This is your chance to find out everything you need to know about the role you’re applying for (everything you couldn’t find out through your own research), to make sure it’s actually the right role for you.
You could ask about pay, opportunities for advancement, and even the kinds of activities you’ll be working with.
And if there’s anything you don’t understand make sure you ask about it before you leave – it’ll prove you’re proactive and have a good understanding of the company and role.
DON’T FORGET TO FOLLOW UP
Make sure you thank the interviewer for their time as you’re leaving, and then get in touch a week or so later (unless they’ve told you not to), to thank them once again and reiterate your interest in the position.
If they’ve got several candidates they’re debating then it’ll keep your application in the front of their minds, and show them that you’re genuinely interested in the role.
Even if you think you’ve definitely got it, it can’t hurt to get in touch.
At the end of the day, the goal of an interview is to:
Stand out from the crowd
Avoid saying anything that may put them off
And prove you’re qualified for the role