Interviews can be nerve-wracking. Prepare for success and they will become less so.
Give yourself time and decide what you want to achieve. Generally an interview is about a job or a pitch for new work, so there are a number of areas to cover off.
Know Your Subject
Learn about the company and the person who will be interviewing you. If it is a recruitment consultant, they will be trying to discern which of their clients they can promote you to. Be open minded, honest and flexible. It is a good ideal not to oversell yourself, which can land you out of your depth. Assess your skills critically and have a neutral third party (colleague, objective friend or competitor) review what you think your strengths and weaknesses are.
If you are being interviewed by the company’s owner, they will likely be more passionate and attached to the company than a consultant. It is a good idea to research recent acquisitions, deals or changes that may have prompted them to interview you. It will give you an informed base to speak from.
Have an Up-to-Date Resume
The last thing an interviewer wants to hear is “I should have” or “I’ll get it to you”. Make sure you have a digital copy and a hard copy available, even if you have previously provided your resume. It may save time and help your interviewer out. It will also remind them again of your skills, should they have filed all the copies.
If you don’t know an answer, be honest. If you don’t have a skill, be honest. If you think you can offer an alternative solution, do that. Use clear language and be to the point. Don’t dodge questions and do be interested and engaged throughout the entire interview.
Interviewers use a range of techniques to make up their minds – seemingly unrelated questions, as well as the chit-chat to open and close a meeting, can sometimes be crucial.
Be Punctual and Appropriate
It is never acceptable to be late. Allow plenty of travel and parking time. Allow time to sign in if that is required.
Be well-groomed, dressed for the type of interview you are expecting (a gardener shouldn’t need to arrive at an interview in a suit). Make sure you are well-rested and fed. You should feel comfortable and confident at the outset of any interview.
Know Your Worth
Many interviewers will ask you for your salary expectations. Again, research what the position is worth in New Zealand in a company of the size you are interviewing with. Unless you have exceptional skills that will add measurable value, use that figure as a guideline. Be clear and confident when discussing money (it is a given that most people find it uncomfortable). Feel free to ask questions (“What is the position worth to you?”), but be prepared to give a number yourself.
Confidence is Key
Be confident in your own abilities. If you arrive in the interview room and find yourself intimidated by the other candidates, it will show. Take a breath, and realise you are here because you deserve to be. Be confident and assertive if you truly want to role.
Prepare questions. You will almost inevitably be asked if you have questions or if there are any areas of the role that you don’t understand. Often you are asked to give scenarios that you may have faced in the past. Be concise, factual and to the point. Inject humour if it is appropriate, but don’t try too hard.
Ideally you should leave an interview feeling like you have done your best. Preparation and confidence will go a long way to achieving this. Once the interview is over, thank your interviewer sincerely. Good luck!