Job application success series – the interview

  February 20, 2017

The interview is definitely the most nerve-wracking part for most people, and unfortunately it's the part where a lot of people fall down – not because they're not good enough or suitable for the role, but because they get nervous and don't perform at their best. Unfortunately the only way to become more comfortable in interviews is to do them a lot, but honestly you don't want to have to do a hundred interviews to get your first job because that's quite frankly a morale killer. So instead, focus on little changes you can make to improve the experience for you. Different things will work for different people, but below we explore a couple of things that everyone should to help maximise chances of success.

Know the job description and your CV

If you know the content of these off by heart then there shouldn't be any nasty surprises in the interview. As mentioned in the CV writing article, a lot of people embellish their CV, and this is potentially going to cause issue in the interview as when asked 'give us an example of when you've done X', when you've never actually done X, is going to make it hard to formulate a sensible answer and will undermine your credibility. So first off, make sure everything in your CV is true and secondly study the job description and think of examples for all of the key attributes, skills and expected knowledge. That way when you're asked, you'll have something to say.

Be honest

Nobody enjoys interviews, and your interviewers will know this, and if you think you've mucked up, ask for a do over. Most interviewers won't judge you negatively if you simply say 'I'm really sorry, I get really nervous in interviews, can you repeat the question/can I rephrase that?' If you've been asked something you don't understand, don't just launch into an answer, ask for clarification. And if you've provided an answer to a question, but aren't sure it was relevant, ask if they have enough information.

Take your time

When nerves get the better of you it's easy to go on a babble-thon and just keep talking nonsense, but one of the keys to successful interviews is to take your time. When you're asked a question, take a moment to reflect on what it being asked, get clarification if you need it (or if you just need an extra moment to compose yourself) and don't worry about the clock. Interviewers want to hear your best response, so they really don't mind waiting an extra five seconds for you to decide what to say, and if they do, you might not want to work there anyway!