Interview Tips

ERA Personnel is aware that finding a job can be an intimidating and frustrating process. How often have you found yourself thinking that you were the best candidate for a position but let yourself down performing poorly during the interview process?

While we can’t magically give you skills, knowledge or competencies that you don’t possess, we can provide you with advice that will assist you to ‘sell’ the talent that you have. Here are some simple but effective tips and information on making the Interview a Positive Experience and Common Interview Mistakes. While these tips will assist you, always remember that like most things in life there is no substitute for experience and practice. In other words use every Interview, even those where you are the interviewer, as an opportunity to improve your skills.

Interview Tips

MAKING THE INTERVIEW A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE

In most instances an interview, along with your resume, is your primary opportunity to ‘sell’ yourself to a prospective employer. The following information is provided as a guide to making the interview process as positive an experience as possible. It will not guarantee that you will get the job but it does provide a framework for improving your chances.

Preparing for the Interview

  1. Avoid nervousness and anxiety by adopting a positive mindset. After all the prospective employer wouldn’t be interviewing you if they didn’t think that you had something to offer.
  2. Learn as much as possible about the job and the organisation. If there is a nominated contact person for the job take the opportunity to get in touch with them and speak to them about the type of individual that they are after, the specifics about the job on offer and the organisation. Always prepare a set of questions before you make contact. Find out if the company has a web site and if you can obtain documents such as annual reports, strategic plans etc. Knowledge about the goals, objectives and vision of the company, its competitors and culture are always useful.
  3. Compile all of the documentation you will be taking to the interview – qualifications, references and etc – well in advance of the interview date. Always take your resume/ application with you in case the interview panel wants further clarification on any matter.
  4. Make sure that you know the time, date and location of the interview. Check out the location of the interview and make sure that you can reach it on or before time. If necessary make a dry run.
  5. Review your Resume and/ or application along with the information you have gleaned about the organisation so that you can speak authoritatively without making reference to the documentation.
  6. Develop a list of questions you are likely to be asked and appropriate answers. If at all possible get a friend or family member to play the role of an interviewer so that you can fine tune both your answers and body language.
  7. Develop a list of questions that you intend to ask the interview panel if given the opportunity. Make sure that the questions are pertinent to the role and the organisation.
  8. Plan what you intend to wear. Your appearance does matter as it sends a clear message about how much you want the position and how you would present yourself when representing the organisation.
  9. Make sure that you contact your referee’s and tell them about the job you are being interviewed for and that they may be contacted.

The Interview

  1. First impressions do count – so always aim to be friendly, self confident and enthusiastic. Keep in mind that the interview panel are trying to establish what type of person you are as well as what technical skills you possess.
  2. Don’t confuse interviewers with jargon, speak too quickly or assume that they have an in depth knowledge of your qualifications, the previous roles you held or industries you have worked in. Basically an interview is an exchange of information and it is essential that your ‘message’ is understood.
  3. Listen to the all of the questions carefully and don’t hesitate to seek further clarification if you are unsure as to what you are being asked.
  4. Try to be succinct and focus on addressing the question being asked. Where possible illustrate your skills, knowledge or experience by providing details or examples of what you have done. If you can provide quantifiable answers such as “I improved sales by 15% in the last financial year” all the better.
  5. Always seek to reinforce how your skills, knowledge and/ or experience are applicable to the job on offer. Don’t be afraid to bring examples of your work with you, although you must be careful not to infringe the intellectual property or confidentiality of your current or past employer(s).
  6. Remember that the interview process is not an inquisition or test. The interview panel is mostly interested in finding out what strengths you can bring to their company so there is nothing wrong with asking the interviewers if an answer you have given addresses the question satisfactorily or whether they require more information.
  7. Always answer the questions honestly.
  8. Never put yourself down or belittle your achievements – there are plenty of other people in life who will do this for you! Remember this is an exercise in selling yourself to a prospective employer so be proud of what you have done.
  9. Always end the interview by thanking the interview panel for providing you with the opportunity to be interviewed for the position.

Post Interview

  1. Use each interview as a learning experience. Take the time to review your performance at the interview and undertake an honest assessment of what you did right and what you did wrong. Make notes for future reference.
  2. If the interview panel offers formal feedback on your performance at the interview ALWAYS take the opportunity. Make sure that you ask them to address the positives as well as the negative aspects.

COMMON INTERVIEW MISTAKES

The following is a list of some of the typical mistakes that applicants make during the interview process. It is not meant to be an exhaustive list but rather a guide on what to avoid. Please keep in mind that this isn’t a prescription for ‘getting the job’ but rather an exercise in eliminating things that negatively impact on your chances.

  1. Lack of preparation. All prospective employers expect applicants to arrive on time, to come well prepared and to have done some basic research and thinking about the company and the specific job on offer.
  2. Poor appearance/ presentation. If you want to promote yourself as a professional it is important to present a professional image. Being well dressed and well groomed is always a positive.
  3. Criticism of a previous or current employer. Negative or critical comments about a current or previous employer reflect poorly on you, not the employer.
  4. Poor attitude. Try to avoid coming across as arrogant, aggressive or overbearing. Conversely it is important that you don’t appear to lack interest or enthusiasm for the interview. Always look the interviewer or interview panel in the eye.
  5. Yes/ No answers. The interview process is about gleaning information about you and your ability to do the job. While it is important to be concise in your responses always take the opportunity to provide examples of your experiences and skills and relate them to the job on offer. Remember the prospective employer wants to know how you can contribute to the success of his/her operation so emphasize your successes.
  6. Evasiveness. It is important that you address each question openly and honestly – interviewers pick up on evasiveness and often regard it as equivalent to dishonesty. If you have had a failure or difficult situation in your current or previous job ensure that the interview panel understands the context of issue, what you did to recover the situation, whether successful or not, and what you learnt from the experience. Most employers aren’t looking for the perfect employee, but they do want an insight into how you will handle difficult or high pressure situations.
  7. A focus on salary and benefits. Don’t make the salary package and benefits associated with the position the focus of the questions you have for the interview panel. Interview panels are always impressed with interviewees who ask questions that are pertinent to the role and/ or functioning on their business.
  8. Never argue with or embarrass the Interviewer – even when you are right! If you feel it is a significant issue adopt a positive, but deferential approach by simply clarifying your understanding of the issue.