How to Ace the Job Interview

Job interview. Ugh. Even reading the term triggers an uncomfortable internal reaction, doesn’t it?

Why?

Plainly, because it’s something seemingly painful that can’t be avoided – yet is absolutely necessary. Let’s try again, with similar concepts:

Tax paperwork.

Dentist appointment.

Same squirmy feeling? Absolutely. And we’re sorry for putting you through this – but it is to prove a point, you see.

But just imagine going into a job interview feeling absolutely confident. Ready. In control. We can assure you, “job interview” will suddenly sound quite enticing. Dare we say, even exciting. Big call? Let’s see.

David Goldstone Esq, CBE, former Chief Executive of Regalian Properties, has welcomed, over the years, an extraordinarily substantial number of candidates into his London office. But it was time for the experienced interviewer to play interviewee as Innovate CV TV pressed the property-industry icon to offer us some job interview insights, given his vantage point from the other side of the table.

The experienced interviewer suggested three key points to which candidates need to pay careful attention. Watch the video for yourself, and take note of our comments.

Research. Research. Research.

Dig up as much as you can about your potential future employer. What are their challenges? Where have they been successful? Where have they failed? What direction are they going in? What type of employee culture to they encourage? A well-stocked knowledge bank is a certain advantage, and finding worthy answers to these questions demands a large degree of ingenuity.

Industry information is as essential. What are the trends? Technologies? How does your profession relate? Who are the other players? Step inside the organisation’s world and see what’s going on.

A tactic often overlooked is researching your interviewer. Mr. Goldstone suggests finding out about your interviewer’s professional and personal backgrounds. Google, LinkedIn, press or journal articles, and even conversations with previous or current employers can unearth a tremendous amount of useful information. Developing a rapport with your interviewer gives you with a big head start.

However, the real skill is to properly demonstrate your research in the interview itself. Resist the temptation to answer or ask questions in a way that merely ‘shows off’ your research efforts – it’s awkward, inane, and demonstrates insecurity. A single carefully timed and relevant comment can be all that is needed to demonstrate you’ve done your homework, and done it well.

Poise

The source of your nerves is likely knowing that you’re going to put on the spot and assessed – and you don’t think you’re ready. You need to come across as confident, but as Mr. Goldstone warns, “without being over-confident”.

There are no shortcuts here – get out a pen and some paper. Go on. Now.

  • Identify ‘classic’ interview questions, as well as questions that you may be asked given the position for which you’re applying.
  • Prepare dot point answers. What examples can you cite from your experiences?
  • Practice saying the answers. Yes, out loud. Avoid memorising dialogues – you’ll limit yours flexibility to answer questions you weren’t excepting. Even if they do ask you what you expecting, you’ll stumble in your monologue when you’re in the spotlight.

There are no shortcuts here – this will take some thinking and potentially confronting self-analysis. Give yourself three thirty minute blocks to prepare answers to these points. If you need more time afterwards, great. It’s a priceless investment.

Prepare Questions

“Do you have any questions you’d like to ask?”

Even candidates who don’t miss this golden opportunity, often end up asking the wrong questions and undoing all their good work.

“Questions should be designed to show interest and knowledge,” Mr. Golstone advocates.  An example he cites is to ask about the training structure new employers can expect to enjoy. In a single question, you’re able to demonstrate your value and desire for professional development.

However, be mindful that your questions are not: (a) easily researchable yourself, (b) put the interviewer in an awkward position, (c)  general and purposeless, and (d) asked timidly.  The Guardian recently posted a good list of questions –  see which ones you feel comfortable with.

“Job interview” – see, not as bad now, is it? And once you’ve really put in the preparation, you’ll be humming the term away.

 

A free Innovate CV can help you get the job you always wanted. Find out how we can help you with your job search!

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Categories: Articles for Job Seekers, Job Interview Skills

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6 Comments on “How to Ace the Job Interview”

  1. Jayson
    August 10, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    Cheers – appreciate the article and video. stil not feeling great about interviews but better now!!

  2. Amelia J
    August 12, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

    Loved the article and interview, but researching the interviewer? Does that strike anyone else as a tad creepy?

    • Greg Childs
      August 13, 2010 at 5:23 am #

      Hi Ameilia,

      I disagree. Providers are constantly researching potential clients, and providers do their work to find out about potential providers. Why should an employee/employer relationships be any different?

      Especially in today’s information-centric world, people are ready to be researched – and even encourage such research. LinkedIn is a good example.

      It’s not creepy; it’s smart advice.

      Greg Childs

      • August 20, 2010 at 6:32 am #

        Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Greg.

    • August 20, 2010 at 6:31 am #

      Hi Amelia,

      No one is advocating searching through your interviewers’ rubbish bins!

      But your implied question is a good one: How does one determine if you’re crossing the “research” line? Perhaps a good rule of thumb is if you’d be embarrassed to disclose your information sources or not. If you would be, you’d be better off staying clear!

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