Achieving the right mindset for an interview
Interviews needn’t be as daunting as a trip to the dentist or an important exam, they can be enjoyable and a great platform to show-off from. No other situation in life would allow anyone to talk about themselves and the amazing things they have done for an hour or more. But, if like many, you have not found the pleasure in interviews, you may need to change your mindset about them.
How long is it until your next interview? If time allows, start researching now. Start by visiting your prospective employers’ website and social media pages to see what you can learn. What does the company do– not just within the part of the organisation you are seeking to join? How long have they been doing it for? What would your role be in the organisation if you got the job? What are the company’s key values and mission statement? Have they been in the news? Having answers to these questions can make you feel more prepared and can give you a better insight into the organisation. Also, they can be a great starting point for your research. It is also more than OK to go in with a notepad filled with notes about the company.
It is more than likely that you have a wealth of knowledge and experience, so it could be helpful to list your achievements and skills prior to the interview to remind yourself of this. Think about how these skills make you feel and allow yourself pride in your expertise. Review the person specification for the role and write down everything on it that you have proven experience in. Pulling key words from the person specification to highlight in the interview will keep your dialogue relevant. Also, read through your CV to refresh your memory. If asked about previous employment, a pause as you rack your brains could shake your confidence.
Bear in mind that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you, they need the help. The confidence in knowing that they wanted to see you and felt you were good enough for the job will instantly relieve any nerves and help you achieve a positive mind set. There is a reason why they offered an interview and they do not want to waste their time on applicants who are not appropriate. Remember also; they must impress you, too.
Is there anything they could do better? Sometimes this question is asked in an interview, which can be slightly awkward as you may not think that anyone would want their flaws pointed out. Just remember that what they want is constructive feedback and they may be testing how much you know about the organisation. If you can provide a solution to a problem or you have an idea as to how to improve their service or processes, this will come across in the interview even if they do not ask you. Most companies want new starters to bring new ideas and be innovative. If they don’t, ask yourself if you would want to work for a business that might be slow to change or doesn’t really value you experience based input.
It is sometimes helpful to have a friend ‘interview’ you and ask for feedback or record yourself and watch it back. Knowing where your strengths and weaknesses are can help you boost your confidence and the practise could mean you are not caught out so easily.
Most interviews will include a set of questions that everyone is asked to see who is the most suited to the job and the culture. These can be easy to answer (‘what do you do in your spare time?’) or really challenging (the old ‘where do you see yourself in five years time?’). The best way to prepare for this is to look at the research you have and think about your personality. Does the company seem very staid and traditional? If so, it may not be best to talk about your crazy social life in detail, but you can tailor your responses to fit their culture. For example, ‘I have a large social circle and we meet up a lot. I can be an outgoing person and can spend hours just enjoying connecting with old and new friends regularly’. It is wise not to pretend to be someone else in an interview because if you get the job due to a facade, you may regret it and end up not enjoying your new employers’ work culture and attitude. You are not a robot with pre-programmed responses, answer in your own way and show some personality. By being yourself, you ensure that you are different from other applicants.
Another sure-fire way to stand out is to think of something you really want to know when asked ‘any questions’ at the end of the interview. This can be ‘what was your career path to get to where you are?’ or ‘what’s the best part about your job?’. Knowing whether they moved up within the company and why they have stayed in their role can be truly insightful. It is obvious to stay away from very basic questions like ‘is there a canteen?’.
There is a lot to think about before an interview, but confidence can come through preparation and forethought. Find a plan of action or a path that works for you. Some people tell themselves they already have the job before they go in, some approach interviews in the same way they might for a first date, and some do so much research into the company that no question will catch them off-guard. Whatever works to help you, focus on the important points; you have been selected by them for a reason, try to enjoy it and do your research.