Once you’ve been invited for an interview, follow these steps for your best performance on the day:
1. Just before the interview, control your nerves by breathing deeply. Put your hand on your stomach and as you breathe in push your hand out with your stomach. Do this slowly three or four times just before you go into the interview room
2. Get into the right frame of mind by thinking of a time (not necessarily in a work context, could be a sport or social situation) where you felt calm and confident, where you spoke well, knew what you were talking about and were proud of how you did. Just before you go into the interview think of that time in your mind and remember how you felt. This will help you get into a similar state for your interview
3. Make contact with your interviewer. It’s easy to forget when we are a bit anxious but a smile, some eye contact and a ‘lovely to meet you’ or similar phrase go a long way.
4. Listen carefully to the questions you are being asked. It’s very easy to jump on the first familiar word you think you have something to say about and end up answering the wrong question. Listen to the structure of the question so that you can make sure you are giving an appropriate answer - are they asking for a summary, specific examples or your reflections of a piece of work? Avoid just talking generally around the topic.
5. Look at the job description before the interview and have three examples prepared for the key skills required of the job. So if it’s a management role, three examples of when you managed something well or if it’s a project role, three 3 examples of successful projects. This will give you plenty of material to draw on during the interview.
6. Make sure you can talk confidently about something that didn’t go well in previous jobs. This is a common question in interviews and interviewers are well practiced in the standard answers. They are looking for evidence of self-awareness and that you learn from things that don’t go well. At all costs avoid blaming others. If you are asked this question, demonstrate you have reflective thinking by thinking of an example that didn’t go as planned (relevant to the role you are applying for), what key things you learnt from it were and what you would do differently next time.
Karen Meager is director at Monkey Puzzle Training & Consultancy