Interview Advice

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 Acumen – 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.
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.

7 Tips On How To Succeed In An Online Job Interview
Forbes Magazine recently published an article by Robin Ryan where she offered the following advice.

Being on camera makes everyone nervous. It also is tricky because you can easily make mistakes. Online interviews using Skype, Zoom, or Go-To-My-Meeting have been popular in specific industries, especially for colleges and universities, for quite a while.

Online or video interviews can present a new challenge to the job hunter, especially if they are over 40 and have never used this technology. Baby Boomers need to be comfortable with the technology and be able to recover if there is a tech glitch in transmission. That is much easier said than done.

Here are 7 tips to help you excel in your online interviews.

  • Ask in advance all the details about this format. What format will they be using? How long will the interview be? What online service are they using? How many people will be there interviewing you? Don't expect the interviewer to volunteer much, so ask and call back a second time if you need clarification.
  • Use your desktop or laptop but not your phone. Phone connections can more easily drop the call and not have good reception when you want it most. You will not look good holding your mobile, which will shake or move around as you hold it and be annoying to the viewer. Your desktop computer (first choice) and laptop are the better options. 
  • Don't start by apologizing for your being unfamiliar with online technology. That is not what the employer wants to hear. It'll make you come across as technically incompetent. Go to YouTube and watch some how-to videos on using the meeting software, whether it's Skype or others. Practice several times using this technology, so you know how to connect, reconnect, adjust the volume, and can ensure you look good on camera. 
  • Pay attention to the background and lighting. Keep your background uncluttered and move all distractions, so they don't interfere with the camera focusing on you and not the light pole growing out of your head. Be sure to be in a quiet location. A plain background is ideal. Do not be sitting on your bed as it gives a poor impression. Check the lighting to see how your face looks at the time of day you will do the interview. You want perfect lighting, so we view your face without shadows. You may need to add a lamp to one side or in front of your face but out of camera view to get your whole self well lite.  
  • Dress for the camera. Dress up like you would for a face-to-face interview. A suit jacket and solid shirt or blouse work best. Avoid prints or plaids as these don't look good when viewed via a monitor. For women, make-up is appropriate. Yes, you're on video, and you want to look your best. Review some YouTube tips from make-up experts who help you look polished and professional. Try the lipstick online to be sure it shows up and isn't too faded or bold. 
  • Practice beforehand. This is a real interview, and you can land the job or lose it. You can use Skype with a friend to role-play the session. Your movements and nervous actions are exaggerated on video. Watch for your nonverbal clues and facial expressions. Get used to the camera. Focus totally on the interviewer and try to forget the camera. You do need to stare into the camera, so the viewer sees your eyes and not you looking down. Movements need to be slow. Best not to move around too much. Your poise and self-confidence are being assessed here. Be sure to exude these traits and smile often. Show interest and enthusiasm for the job.
  • Write out your answers. Review the questions you are likely to be asked. Many will require an example to answer. Write out answers. You can craft the best response when you aren't on the spot. Think through work examples and pick the better ones that make you shine in the employer's eyes.

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;

  • Log in on time and always call if running late
  • Research the company and have a copy of your CV to hand
  • 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