Interviews are intimidating prospects. There’s no magic formula for success but you can do some things to swing the odds in your favour. Here we recount the best advice and training that we’ve been given.
So, your CV has gotten your foot in the door and you’ve been called in for an interview or assessment day. Here are a few tips to help bring the best out of yourself:
1) 1st impressions really count:
There’s a well known saying that “most house-buyers make their mind up before they even enter the property” – there is a parallel with interviewers: most will make their mind up, or at least form a strong bias, within the first 3 minutes. So it’s important to make a strong start. Smile, relax and be natural. Remember: the strength of your CV indicates that you can do the job so the interviewer, a potential future colleague after all, is simply looking to answer the question: “do I get on with, and can I see myself enjoying working with, this person?”
2) Try to control your nerves:
It’s only right to feel nervous and nervous energy can improve your performance, but it’s hard to make your best first impression if you are overcome with nerves. You should attend to your mental and physical states. Most people try to get in the right mental state – rehearsing answers to likely questions, doing your research, and thinking of the interview as a relaxed chat with someone you’ve just met in the pub, can all help with that – but few people remember to prepare themselves physically. 1 minute of deep breathing from the diaphragm – in through the nose & out through the mouth – helps calm you down. Try it in the lobby / waiting area or in the bathroom if you’d rather some privacy! Stretching can also help, particularly extending your spine by “uncurling” from having your hands by your toes to reaching for the ceiling.
3) Know your ‘story’:
People enjoy listening to stories, particularly compelling ones. So it helps to be able to tell yours (your career story that is, not where you grew up or what your parents did for a living). Your story should lay out for the interviewer the reasons for you wanting this job and why it’s natural for you to be given it. For your story to be compelling, you’ll need a strong answer to the following ‘likely questions’: “What’s wrong with your current job?”, “What is it about my company that attracts you?”, “What will this job give you that other jobs will not?”, “What experiences and characteristics uniquely qualify you as the best candidate?”. Don’t underestimate the number of interview questions that will be straight forward, like these ones. So be prepared for them!
4) Use visual aids:
If they are available in the room, don’t be afraid to use pen and paper, or white-board and marker, to lay out an argument. There’s much to be gained from this: a) it slows you down giving you time to think; b) it helps the interviewer to follow your argument; c) it helps you to follow your argument so you are less likely to make mistakes; d) it gets you moving and this will boost your energy; e) it shows the interviewer that you are relaxed and in control. Taking a pen and paper in to interview is another good tip as it shows your intention to ask questions of, and learn from, the interviewer. In short, it’s a sign that you’re interested.
5) Pause and slow down:
Interviewees often fall into the trap of thinking that they need to respond immediately to questions. However, this can lead to poorly considered and unstructured answers. Pause, breathe and think before you reply. Don’t be afraid to ask for a few seconds to consider your answer – you will save time in the end by avoiding the need for clarifying questions. Try to speak slowly, even if feels strange and sounds tortuous to you. Again, it gives you more time to think about what you’re saying. It also improves the chance of your interviewer following your argument and therefore is likely to create a better impression.
Good luck with your interviews!
Like our advice? Hear even more at one of our events:
At our last private equity event, we had the pleasure of welcoming 4 private equity professionals to share their experience about the private equity world
Meet the inspiring CEOs of Trouva and LoveCrafts – join Movemeon in London on 22nd June 2017 and find out how they went from consultant to business leader.
At our 1st boutique consulting event with Hunch, CIL, 2020 & Advancy, we heard exclusive perspectives on the unique features of boutiques – read them here