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Five Interview Tips You Haven’t Seen Yet

Four people in suits walking Image

It’s that time of year when graduates start piling out of university looking for jobs. The internet is a buzz with the usual interview tips on what you need to think about when going for interviews. This one will be a little different…

If you’ve done your research you will have seen people talking about things like making sure you are on time to your interview, dressed appropriately, and how to use the STAR technique to answer competency questions. We would like to add some additional points that often get overlooked in these posts.

Interview of a person by the Air Force Office ...1. You’re being watched

There’s a saying in broadcasting, “Treat every microphone like it’s a live microphone.” This stops you from saying something inappropriate that might be broadcast on air. With an interview it’s similar, from the moment you arrive at interview you have to be ready to present yourself as a professional applicant. The person who takes your coat or shows you around might not be on the interview panel but the chances are that they’ll be asked their opinion of all the candidates after you’ve gone so don’t let your guard down. Be polite and professional whoever you meet so that you have a consistent image.

Thought bubble image

2. “Going blank”

It’s happened to us all at one stage or another. Someone has just asked you a question that under normal circumstances you would have been able to answer without missing a beat. But now your mind has gone completely blank and the interviewer is looking at you intently, waiting for an answer. There are various ways to cope with this; you could take a sip of water to delay and give yourself a moment to think. Another method is to ask a question back to clarify their meaning – this has the benefit of making you still seem engaged whilst giving your mind chance to reshuffle your thoughts.

What you don’t want to do is panic and show it. Don’t just say nothing or mumble “I can’t think” and expect it not to be noticed, you’re there to show how you deal with pressure. Explain that you do know the answer but you just need a moment to think, then calmly think over the question. Remember if the worst comes to the worst, explain that you are nervous and can’t think of the answer right that moment. If it comes to you at the end of the interview you could always mention to your interviewer, “By the way, that question you asked me before, I can answer it now if you’d like…” It’s not the best scenario but at least you will have got there in the end!

Angry Interview Image3. The Problem interviewer

They do exist! Your interviewer, or someone on the interview panel, may not be a very experienced. This inexperience might display itself in general disorganisation; not having your paperwork to hand, an inappropriate interview space (e.g. tiny office or giant meeting room), interviews running too long or too short. There’s not much you can do about this of course, just take it in your stride. In other cases it may lead to the wrong questions being asked. These may be questions that can be answered with one word, yes or no, often called closed questions.

Just because you are offered a closed question it doesn’t mean you have to answer with one word; use the opportunity to expand on the answer and make it into a positive. For example, “You changed your course after the first year?” You could simply answer “Yes,” however think about the meaning behind the question. Are they actually asking you if you got bored with the course, found it too hard, or didn’t want to be there in the first place? Expand on the answer, “Yes. I had enjoyed the course I was on but during the year I did research into job roles I would like to do after graduating and discovered this course was much more useful…” etc. Watch out for problem interviewers – they could be inexperienced or disorganised or they could be testing you to see how you handle a difficult situation.

4. Don’t forget that you are already in a good positionHappy Interviewer Image

You made it to interview! It might be scary but you’ve already got past the first hurdle. While you can’t quite relax you can be sure that if the interviewer wasn’t interested in your skills and talents you wouldn’t be sitting in front of them now. You need to remember that the employer actually wants to hire you. They want you to be able to do all you say because that’s the best outcome for them. As it can cost thousands to hire new employees, interviewing ten candidates and finding no one suitable is a situation they don’t want to get into. So be polite, knowledgeable, engaging, and make them like you!

Content Applicant Image5. The interview isn’t the end, even if you don’t get the job

This is the hardest part, being rejected and trying to think of it positively. But break it down into its components… You created a CV/Application form that got you in the door, and beat lots of other applicants to the interview stage, so you know there’s good stuff on there. You can use this as a benchmark for other applications, based on the job role and type of company/industry you applied to. You can ask for feedback on your interview to see where you can improve but also to know what you already do well. (Remember, there is no law that says they have to give you feedback, it’s all about how you phrase your request).

Finally use this as an opportunity to build on your network. You now know people in the company, who have met you personally and have an insight into your skills, so try and hold onto that connection. A short letter, sent after your rejection, thanking them for their time and the opportunity to visit their business is a nice touch – don’t go overboard though. If you’re asking for feedback, then phrase it politely as a request rather than a demand. Use the opportunity to be memorable as someone who is polite and professional and thinks, not only about the job, but the people they have met as well. You never know, you might meet them on another interview panel one day, so consider this advanced groundwork!

If you want to know more about interviews, we are running our Job Hub Masterclasses throughout the summer. The three-step masterclass goes through searching for those vacancies (Step 1 – Find that Job!), applying for those vacancies (Step 2 – Apply for that Job!), and finally getting that job with your interview skills (Step 3 – Get that Job!)

Book on CareerHub Now!

photo credit: Victor1558, Daigo Tanaka, Charles Dana Gibson, Victor1558

Jerome Price Photograph

Jerome Price is an Employment and Placements Adviser in the Careers and Placements Service at the University of Hertfordshire

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