Job interviews are scary.. there’s no denying that. And despite the continued casualisation of work in terms of hours, contracts and even the clothes we wear to work, job interviews are still a big factor in landing your dream career.
I’ve lost count of the amount of job interviews I’ve done in the past 4 years as I’ve changed jobs a few times to get to the one I’m in now. And while I probably bombed one or two I’ve aced most of them and picked up a few tips along the way.
Whenever my friends ask me for interview advice, I send them on the tips I’m about to include in this post and they tend to find them very useful.
1. Prep the “Take us through your CV question”
I have never not been asked this (or a variation of it). It’s usually always the first question, especially when HR is there.
There are lots of tips online for ways to answer this, but from my experience it’s usually best not to give a full walkthrough of your CV.
Pick the best parts that are most relevant to the current role. Start with your current job and then bring in elements of past work and training.
2. Prep all the standard interview questions
You don’t often get asked them directly, but if you can go into the interview armed with a number of soundbites covering various topics, you’ll be able to draw on them for other answers.
The standard questions are usually:
- What could you bring to this role?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What are your strengths / weaknesses?
- Give us an example of how you dealt with a stressful situation
- Give us an example of when you dealt with a difficult colleague / customer
- Give us an example of quick thinking / problem solving
It’s worth Googling what questions might be relevant to your particular role also, whether it’s a general managerial position, or something very specific like marketing, engineering etc.
The ones I’ve included are standard across the board, but every profession will have its own go-to questions.
3. Go back through the job description
This is a really handy exercise to do when you’re prepping for your interview (or even writing your application):
- Print out the job description and highlight all of the requirements and key words in the application (sometimes they include additional requirements in the job description/company blurb at the top, but don’t list them down below)
- For every thing they ask for, write down an example (or multiple examples) of how you have that skill or times when you have demonstrated that in the past
This will help add to your bank of soundbites, and you can work these in to your other answers without them having to ask if you have that skill.
4. Have real work examples
When you’re preparing your soundbites, this tip will help you to pack the info in.
Saying that you have experience in something is no good unless you can be specific. And then within those examples mention the what, the why and then the result. If they have to ask you why and what the result was you’re doing it wrong.
Eg. “I also have experience in event management. I worked for a small charity running and coordinating their annual table quiz fundraiser. I liaised with the venue before and during the event, I worked with the graphic designer to design the posters, and I rounded up a team of volunteers to put those posters up around town. I also secured an interview on local radio to promote the event, and in the end we raised €2,000.”
It’s also good to remember that skills and experience don’t have to be from work. Hobbies can be relevant too. If you’re an avid gardener you could say it’s helped you with planning, and dedication to a project etc.
5. Know your own application inside out
I remember one time being quite surprised that they had picked up on one of my hobbies that I forgot was in my CV.. and I sort of stumbled over what I was saying.. which made me sound like I was lying, when I wasn’t.
Know the ins and outs of everything you’ve submitted.
6. Have an answer prepped for “Do you have any questions for us?”
Companies often ask you if you have any questions for them. You don’t necessarily have to ask anything, but it’s always good to have at least one question up your sleeve and it shows that you’re interested. Avoid asking about salary.
A few examples:
- “Could you describe your ideal candidate for this job? / What type of person are you looking for to fill this role?”
- “How do the shifts work? / What does a typical day look like?”
7. Practical Tips
And finally, my brother gave me this list of tips about 3 years ago when I was trying to get a job I really wanted and I still read back on them before every interview.
They’re very practical and cover things you might choose to dismiss as unimportant, but they are very relevant (AND.. full disclosure, Tip 4 is also from him):
- Talk slowly and don’t talk over people
- When someone is talking be sure to look at them. Tilting the head slightly and nodding just a bit lets them know you’re listening even if you’re not. (Also, look them in the eye but don’t stare)
- Sit in a neutral position
- Smile. You’re happy to be there. There’s no where else you’d rather be right now than sitting there talking to them.
If you have any extra tips you’d like to share, pop them in the comments below.. and if you have a job interview coming up and use some of my tips please let me know how you get on!