Interview skills fact sheet
Interviews are a fact of modern life and interview skills
will be used by all of us many times throughout our lives.
If you know how to generate a favourable impression, have
an impact on others and present yourself as an interesting
and valuable person, you will be a winner at more than
just job interviews. An important interview can seem a
difficult hurdle to face but you can exercise considerable
control and influence over the way it is conducted, and
more important, over the outcome.
What employers are looking for
Interviews are a way of comparing and contrasting different
candidates for a job. If you have been invited to an interview,
you have been successful in the selection process up to
this point and there is no reason why you should not get
Employers are only interested in which candidate will offer
the most to the company or organisation. They are likely
to concentrate on:
- Your qualifications and skills – what you have
studied and learnt and what you can do.
- Your experience and work background – where you
have worked and what you have achieved.
- Your personality – who you are and what contribution
you can make.
The most important one of these is the last. Skills can
be taught and experience gained on the job, if necessary – but
you cannot change your personality so easily. You need to
spend time thinking about how your past has prepared you
for this role, what you would do in the job and your vision
of how the position could develop.
Qualities in great demand include:
- enjoying team work
- looking presentable
- having a caring and helpful attitude to clients, customers
- showing keenness to take on responsibility for
organising people or projects
- having a positive attitude in
the face of difficulties or changes
- displaying enthusiasm
for the work
- showing an interest in continual learning.
Planning, preparation and practice
Studying any information you have been sent and finding out
all you can about the employer can make all the difference.
You will need to provide evidence that you can fulfil the
job description and meet the requirements of the person
specification if there is one. Just making claims will
not be enough. You need to give clear examples of how you
have demonstrated certain skills or in which situation
you gained relevant experience. The more your answers can ‘paint
a picture’ to illustrate your suitability, the easier
it will be for the interviewer to see you as the preferred
candidate. Thinking about the likely areas of questioning
and rehearsing your answers can help you to sound and feel
more confident and will calm your nerves on the day.
Dos and don'ts
- Do prepare properly – prior research and planning
will pay dividends on the day.
- Do let go! The interviewer wants to get to know who you
are, so feel free to really be yourself.
- Do mind the gap! Make a positive statement about things
that would otherwise look negative.
- Do take care with your appearance; consider every aspect
of your personal presentation.
- Do keep your answers simple and clear and rehearse
- Do speak as you would normally; there is no need
to put on an act.
- Don’t lose your confidence; concentrate on the
vacancy that interests you.
- Don’t smoke or drink tea or coffee in the interview.
- Don’t give just 'yes' or 'no' answers – an employer
will want to know more than that.
- Don’t use jargon or specialised terms without an explanation.
- Don’t lie about yourself - you could face dismissal
if you obtain a job under false pretences.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Keep applying
for jobs that interest you.
Points to remember
- Speak up for yourself - you have nothing to lose and
everything to gain. Enthusiasm is a winner.
- Boast about your strengths and achievements - all the
other candidates will be trying to make themselves
look extra good
- Never assume that the interviewer knows what you are
talking about – the things that you think are obvious may be
unclear to others.
- Get over worrying about nerves - they do not show to
other people nearly as much as you think they do.
- Be determined not to lose heart. If you do not get
a job, it was probably not the right one for you
be a better opportunity just around the corner.
Adapted from "Successful
by Rebecca Corfield, 5th edition, published in 2009 ISBN No. 978-0-7494-5652-8
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