— Think and talk through beforehand what you’d like to say, but avoid any temptation to learn answers off by rote. Rehearsed answers will lack passion and authenticity, and create a new pressure for you on the day as you try to remember what you’ve learned. Trust that your natural flow will click in and serve you much better than learning off your answers.
— Interviews are not elocution tests. You are not expected to speak flawlessly, without a single ‘um’ or ‘am’, for the duration of the interview. Allow yourself to speak in a natural way that will include occasional ‘starts’ and ‘stops’ as you unspool your thoughts.
— Don’t be one more candidate who knows too little about the organisation. Make sure to have your homework done, and rather than waiting for the ‘what do you know about us’ question, seek to flavour a number of answers with little titbits of information about the company. You would be surprised by the number of candidates who ‘rock up’ to an interview with little or no research done about the company. Employers find it unprofessional, loose and, at times, insulting.
— Yes, you should dress professionally. “But I won’t be wearing a shirt and tie on the job itself,” some say, “so why should I wear them to the interview. Will it not look too formal?” No, it won’t. Show them you are treating the interview in a professional manner. You won’t regret the effort you put in.
— Know your CV. It may be a year since you wrote the CV, but you should read it thoroughly before going to the interview so you remember what emphasis you placed on various aspects of your career. The slightest hint of uncertainty will be picked up by the employer, and might lead them – even incorrectly – to wonder if the CV contains some elements of fiction.
— Tune in. Listen to every question. Answer the question they ask: don’t ask a question you think they’ve asked. Top American athletics coach John McDonnell has spoken about the importance of concentration, and how even top athletes, when competing in a major event, can tune out, often with disastrous consequences. Our minds can so easily drift: prepare to stay tuned for the duration of the interview. It sounds like a no-brainer, but maintaining concentration for a period of time can be a challenge, particularly in today’s fast-moving, technology-driven world. A good trick here is to listen to the language being used in the question, and use some of it in your answer.
— Talk plenty – but not too much. This is particularly true if you have a broad and varied CV. The temptation is to tell the interviewer more and more in the hope the weight of evidence will convince them. But there are times when the more we add to the truth, the more we take away from it. We are not urging you to deploy monosyllabic yes and no answers, but you should transmit information in short, easily-digested bytes. And stop at a time of your choosing, don’t keep talking until they eventually talk over you to ask the next question.
Sli Nua Careers offer CV writing, interview training, mock interview and career direction services at their offices in Galway, Dublin and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. You can also obtain their free eBook providing Job Searching Tips by emailing [email protected] with Job Searching eBook in the subject line. More: www.slinuacareers.com