Job Interviews / Job market

Interviews and how to do well at them at them

As part of the application process interviews are a sign that we have done well. We have offered clear evidence of our suitability and have mastered the stage that takes out most applicants. Our application is a strong one and on paper we have all that is needed for the role. What can go wrong? Then our nerves trip us up.

We should feel delighted, now we have the chance to dazzle the recruiter with our talents. Yet we dread them and often focus on past interview disasters and future potential scenarios rather than remain in the present. Sometimes we will replay previous disasters in our minds and convince ourselves we cannot do something that actually we can.

Let’s explore the regular interview nightmares:

I get so nervous during an interview, what if I dry up?

Man writing Stress Reduction in a note.Have you dried up before? Or are you panicking over a potential scenario? Preparation will help you to focus on how you fit a role and the company. Looking at the evidence of how your skills and previous experience fits the role will help you to think of answers to the questions. Nerves are a sign of how importantly you are taking the process. Everyone gets nervous but some are better at hiding their nerves. You can use relaxation techniques such as counting backwards from a certain number or mindfulness exercises. Take a deep breath in tell your inner critic that you are capable of this.

By preparing carefully and fully reflecting on your skills and previous experiences that you have previously used you will have evidence to give. The key point is what you have learned about yourself from these experiences and how you can use your skills in the future. If you do dry up ask for a glass of water and use the time to compose yourself. They want you to succeed and they are willing you to recover and tell them why you are a fit.

How do I tackle difficult questions effectively? I was asked why I had applied and had no answer

questionsIf the question “why have you applied to this company?” brings you out in a cold sweat then you need to think about what motivated your application. Consider the need for proof and avoid vague statements. Use a technique such as CARR or STAR. Practice potential questions. Sometimes a question appears a little confusing and it is okay to seek clarification, particularly on the skill that sits behind the question. A question around a time limit is more focused on your ambition. No one is going to say ‘no you won’t achieve that goal’ but they may ask ‘how will you achieve that goal?’ Break down your response into stages.

I feel that if I talk about myself I am bragging and I feel self conscious

People can feel that talking about themselves is a little bit strange or even boastful. The interview is very much a performance where you are demonstrating your motivation and understanding of not only the role but the company as well. It is not usual in our daily life to sit and think about what is we have done, self-reflection is not taught but it is a vital skill to have. Once you practice this skill you can give clear evidence for your suitability. The interview is not to brag but to explain and give the proof of how you meet the criteria. Give strong evidence based examples to the questions.

I always get past the application stage but never the interview stage – it’s become a block

Challenge Road SignThen this is a block you have to overcome in your own mind first. The fact you can get to this stage demonstrates that on paper you have everything that the role needs. What you need to do now is to think of the answers that will give depth to this evidence.  Think about what evidence you need to offer in terms of skills and expand on the answers with clear proof you are exactly what they need. Seek feedback (even when you are successful) so you can learn from the process.

How do I show my motivation?

So, think what do you know about the role? How are you a fit for it? Are you a fit for the company? If this is a yes, think exactly how you fit – is it values or skills – give clear evidence of how you meet the needs and with what? Treat it as you would an assignment and pitch yourself. Think exactly what the requirements are and where you have previously demonstrated them? Research the company and their products and services and match yourself to them. Expand on how you fit the role and how you would use previous experience to build on your current skills. Be enthusiastic, that energy is key to a potential recruiter.

I can never think of a question to ask at the end of the interview. What can I ask

Signpost illustration, two arrows - questions and answersYou should avoid asking questions that are linked to holidays and cash. Asking about how much holiday leave you get looks like you aren’t motivated. Questions about wages should wait until you have been offered the job and then you need to research what the role should be offering (graduate job info is available via the job profiles on Prospects . You could ask about training you may need and whether you will be working with clients early on. It may be that you had questions and on the tour of the office they answered them so say that.

I am a very shy person and hate interviews

Okay, many people do have strong feelings about interviews and many hate them but they have to be completed to measure you to the job role and its needs. It feels a very false situation and it is but it is a necessary one. Break it down by focusing on your research and preparation for the role. Give clear, logical evidence to show you meet the employers requirements. If you need specific support do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for it.

Take the opportunity to get a mock interview and check out the Moodle apply course to get ideas and resources to help you to prepare. Seek feedback where you can and accept that this is a process that you will master and succeed at. If you have a ruin of rejections see what the common thread is and how you can tackle it.  Good luck.


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