Stepping Into The Interview Room

For many people, the concept of having to do an interview can be an uncomfortable one.

This is because, for those who aren’t necessarily confident, an interview situation can often represent the unknown or at the very least, the unpredictable. The problem with this association – especially in an interview situation - is that just like anything of an uncertain nature, fear isn’t necessarily too far behind.
But it doesn’t have to be this way!

With a little advice as to what to expect, you should be able to approach interviews with a more positive mind-set, ready to engage in the realities of what an interview actually is: a conversation with another human being! Essentially, succeeding in a confidence-based environment is all about turning the unknown into something manageable and familiar, with your skills and experience feeding off this sturdy platform.

To help you achieve this, we’ve put together the final section of our three part ‘Job Process’ feature that will run you through the ins-and-outs of your next interview.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

What will my interview consist of?

The duration of your interview…

Depending on what type of interview you are going to, its duration can vary from anything between 20 minutes and 2 hours.

The simple reason for this is that different job titles will require different tests of competency and character in order to identify the perfect candidate. An Admin role for example won’t require you to do an hour of tests involving complexed machinery!

Using your common sense here to estimate the duration of your interview - based upon the information you’ve already received - is a good starting point. Failing that, you can always get in touch with your recruitment company or your interviewers directly to get a better idea of how long you’ll be doing your interview for.

Remember, you will be taking the time out of your day to go and do an interview, so your interviewer should be happy to run through any last-minute details you need to know before you head over.

The introductions

Your interview is most likely to start with a simple meet and greet. You may be introduced to the people you could be working with, or perhaps just the person who is interviewing you. It sounds basic, but remember that again, you are dealing with human beings who have been through exactly the same process that you are going through. They understand that you might feel nervous, so just relax. No one is willing you to fail!

Whilst being professional, don’t forget to be yourself and if you can, find some common ground with your interviewer. It’s no bad thing if you don’t, but it often helps just to settle the nerves and make you feel comfortable with your interviewer. As mentioned in part two [C2A] of our Job Process series, being true to yourself whereby testing your suitability within a company is important. An interview is a two-way street: It’s half about discovering whether you will fit into a team, and half about whether they will fit with you.

This initial couple of minutes where you’ll be getting a feel for the team and your environment is therefore a vital indication as to what kind of a job you could be entering into.

The substance

The main body of your interview is likely to involve questions based around your CV and experience. There will also be some discussion of the company itself and the role you would be filling. It’s at this point where you will want to demonstrate both your preparatory research regarding the company [C2A to part 1 – prep], but also your inquisitive and engaged approach to the job role in question.

If you’re applying for a more technical role, or a role that requires certain competency tests, these will usually take place after you’ve gone through some of the earlier formalities.

When it comes to answering an interviewer’s questions, sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to act naturally. Here, try not to model yourself on what you think is your/their idea of the perfect candidate. Instead, just focus on a genuine answer to what the interviewer is asking.

Whilst it’s important that you don't interrupt an interviewer, if you aren't sure what they are asking, it's always best to ask for clarification. Your confidence and self-assurance will be key to stamping your mark upon an interview. So if in doubt, make sure you speak up.

Recurring interview questions…

To help you get a sense of what you might be asked, here’s a list of some of the recurring questions that always prop up in an interview situation, accompanied by some ideas for your answers:

  • Why do you want to work here?

Answer this honestly focusing on the positive skills you can bring to a role and the experience you can gain as a result.

  • What's wrong with your present job?

With this question, try not to be negative. You should be focussing on the skills you have gained in your current or previous role, whilst also highlighting the fact that now is the right time to move on to a new challenge.

  • What are your greatest strengths?

This is a big opportunity to sell yourself and your strengths, but always remain humble in doing so! You can do this by using phrases like ‘My colleagues tell me...’, or, ‘I'm lucky enough to be...’

  • What are your greatest weaknesses?

Here, just try and think about the skills you most wish to acquire and what steps you may have already taken to change. Your interviewers have most likely heard every answer going, so giving them a guarded answer like, ‘being a perfectionist’, is not going to do you any favours. Just be honest with your answer, developing it to convey a sense that you are trying to improve all areas of your skillset and personality.

  • Where do you see yourself in five years' time?

This is an important point because it gives the interviewer a telling impression of the vision that you have for yourself. With this in mind, make sure that you give the question ample thought before the interview as it says a lot about you and your personality.

Let’s go!

Just remember, the key to performing well in your interview is simply to be yourself! If your skills and personality don’t fit an employer, the chances are that you wouldn’t thrive in that job anyway.

If you need to get any last minute advice, we’re always here to help. Just give us a ring on 01442 299000 for some free, honest and open consultancy that has been proven to add value for over 25 years.

Either way, good luck for your interview!

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