In preparing for an interview, applicants need to ask themselves the question “what qualities would I be looking for, if I owned this business?”. Understanding the needs of an employer, is the first step to ensuring that you deliver strong, convincing answers, and ultimately secure a job offer as advised by Laura McGrath an interview expert and owner of Interview Techniques.

What are the qualities sought by employers in a tightening market place?

Although not an exclusive list, the following rank high on every employer’s wish list:

  • Adaptability – as budgets shrink, employees will be asked to take on tasks which may fall outside their immediate scope of responsibility. The reality is that many companies are now in “survival mode” and people are being asked to work longer hours - sometimes for less money. Of course, for the ambitious applicant this may provide opportunities to fast track their career development.

  • Business savvy – regardless of your discipline, you need to be able to demonstrate that you understand how the business turns a profit and the importance of the bottom line. Even if you work in a highly creative arena, you will increase your marketability if you can demonstrate an ability to work within a budget, meet deadlines and strive to achieve efficiencies.

  • “Can do” attitude – your focus during the interview should be on how you can immediately add value to the company. Senior management knows that they need a workforce who pull together as a team in order to survive the recession – the sum of the parts being greater than the whole. At an interview, you need to demonstrate your team playing ability and illustrate how you work in achieving common goals.

  • When preparing for any interview, it is important that you can draw on specific examples to illustrate that you are coming to the table with these qualities. It is all very well saying that you have strong commercial skills - prove it!

A well prepared candidate will weave these qualities into their answers, even if not asked the specific questions. Remember, your focus during the interview should always be on what you can bring to the company, not what they will give you.

The Importance of Body Language in an Interview

It is estimated that body language forms as high as 60 per cent of the impact of all communication, the remaining being divided between voice and words. Within an interview context, where you have only one hour to present yourself; it would be foolhardy to ignore the significance of this non verbal communication.

  • Handshake - Never underestimate the power of a handshake. Even in today's global economy, touch is vitally important in doing business. It is the first step in developing a connection with someone, building a rapport and developing a bond of trust. When entering the interview, a nice firm, warm handshake, whilst maintaining eye contact with the interviewer can help set the tone for the rest of the interview.

  • Posture - Great posture projects energy and confidence. Walk confidently into your meeting – stand tall, shoulders back and hold your head high. When seated, maintain this self composed posture by sitting straight in your chair, arms unfolded.

  • Smile - In interview, we are often so worried about answering questions correctly that we forget to smile. Smiling throughout an interview accomplishes several things: it shows the interviewer you are relaxed, it helps you relax, and it helps you project and show enthusiasm for the job. Remember, we spend more time in the office than we do at home - so the person making the hiring decision will want to ensure that they can work effectively with you and that they enjoy working with you.

  • Eye contact - Good eye contact enhances a conversation and delivers our words more effectively. When you maintain direct eye contact, you present an air of confidence both in yourself and in what you are communicating; you show that you are listening intently and you are helping to build a bond of trust. Poor eye contact can be interpreted as indicating a lack of honesty or a lack of self belief. However, be careful not to go the other extreme as looking too intensely at the interviewer can come across as offensive and intimidating.

In interview, you are communicating your message on many different levels. By ensuring your preparations focus on both what you say and how you say it, will help ensure you deliver a polished, powerful and persuasive performance, worthy of any presidential candidate.

Finally, be prepared by completing the following;

  • Allow time to travel to the interview and always call if running late

  • Research the company and bring a copy of your CV

  • Know your CV i.e. dates, positions, responsibilities and key achievements

  • Prepare answers for common questions.

  • Show an interest and let them know why you are interested and why you feel you are suitable for the position.

  • Remember the interviewers name and repeat it throughout the interview.

  • Remember that the interview is a two way process