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How to ace your next interview

Love them or hate them, there’s no shying away from job interviews. Most of us will encounter these multiple times as we progress through our career and, to win your dream job, it’s vital that you’re able to impress at this stage.

If you feel as though you’re falling at the last hurdle; successfully passing the application form stage only to receive a rejection when you meet hiring managers in person, don’t give up. Finding a new role can take time and can be incredibly competitive. Here’s what you need to know:

Remember the basics

It’s said that 33 per cent of managers know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire someone. First impressions count.

To get your entrance right, there are a few simple points you should remember. Start by dressing smartly, turning up on time and bringing everything you’ve been asked to provide. Make sure you prepare in advance, from mapping out your journey ahead of the day itself to researching the company dress code. Try to avoid the common stumbling blocks which can be off-putting for recruiters. This includes having no knowledge of the place you’re interviewing for, letting nerves get the better of you or being much too confident.

When it comes down to it, what people want to see is that you are able to communicate well, you’re personable and friendly, and you have real enthusiasm for your job. If you can demonstrate these things, you’re halfway there already.

Anticipate the interview situation

All interviews are different. Once you’ve completed one or two, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect. But even if you’re a seasoned job hunter, there will always be questions which surprise you. To minimise the risk of this, check the type of interview you’ll be facing. Is it an informal conversation with a hiring manager over coffee or a structured interview in front of a panel? Will you be walking into a competency interview or will you be part of a group test? For each of these situations, your mantra should be ‘prepare, prepare, prepare’.

If you take the time to ask about the situation beforehand, you’ll be able to come up with a game plan. When you learn that you’ll be facing a competency interview for example, it’s best to look back at the job specification, noting down the key skills that companies are looking for, as well as thinking of examples in which you’ve demonstrated these previously. Most importantly, when you know what you’ll be facing, you’ll be able visualise the scenario and prepare for it – helping to increase your focus on the task in hand. 

Learn how to relax under pressure

We’ve seen many Candidates struggle with nerves which affects their performance. Learning how to deal with this is very important. Try not to place too much pressure on yourself. This may be easier said than done when you need a job to pay the bills, move on from a toxic workplace or prove to yourself that you can climb the next rung in your career ladder. However, our advice is to try to leave these worries at the door for the duration of the interview itself, as they will only add to any anxiety.

The more knowledge you have about the company and the role you’re applying for, the more confident you’ll feel: preparation is key. During your interview try to establish a rapport with people. Hiring managers are not judging your every move; they want to get to know you as a person, so be sure to maintain eye contact, engage in conversation and ask questions as appropriate.

And if you’ve received a couple of job rejections, don’t give up; stay positive. Try to find your own coping mechanisms for nerves, whether this is deep breathing or arriving early to adapt to a new environment. Accept the fact that no interview will ever be perfect and don’t let any mistakes put you off; instead take every opportunity to really sell yourself. 

Empathise with your interviewer

For the most part, Employers are looking for new Employees able to solve challenges within their business. They may be facing a lack of skilled workers in a particular area or looking for someone who can bring new expertise to the company. Identifying these pain points and demonstrating how you can help to provide a solution will help you to stand out during a competitive process.

Always read the job description to find out what the company is looking for. Match yourself against these bullet points by listing your strengths, as well as noting down examples of how you have demonstrated key qualities. These days it is relatively simple to conduct some research into the people who’ll be interviewing you through social media. If you take time to do this, to find out their professional background and the make-up of the existing team, you’ll be better placed to put yourselves in their shoes. Have they shared a recent success or posted a news item that’s of interest to you? While it’s important to let the interviewer lead the conversation, there’s no harm in mentioning these things as a way of generating conversation flow and showing that you have a real, active interest in the company.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 we opened our first London office, to service Clients and Candidates in the capital.

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Allen Associates

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