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How to Present Yourself Well in an Interview

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Know how to sell your talents. We meet fabulous people who unfortunately don’t present well in interview due to their lack of ability to articulate their contribution in previous roles. This is an important skill in itself and for some people doesn’t come easily. 

The key to performing well in interview is preparation.

  • Know your USP!
  • Understand how your experience and skills match the vacancy.
  • Prepare examples of how your contribution benefited your previous employers.
  • Practice your responses to example questions prior to your interview.
  • Research the company and the role well and prepare relevant questions.

First impressions

Right from the moment you walk into reception you are being assessed. Be polite to the receptionist ensure you know the name of the person you and meeting and that you arrive a little before time. (Don’t be too much more than 10 minutes early as your interviewer is most likely running to a tight schedule).

Your hand shake should be firm but not bone crushing. Men can sometimes be concerned about shaking a woman’s hand and due to this the grip can be too soft and limp. Shake a woman or a man’s hand with a firm grip and with good eye contact. If your hands are clammy, take a handkerchief with you and dry them just before you enter reception.

What to wear. It is better to be over dressed for an interview than under dressed, where possible wear a suit.

Different types of interviews

Interviews take many forms, from more formal panel style interviews to an informal conversation over coffee. Regardless of the type, the aim is always to assess your fit for their role and organisation. Interviewing with the HR manager will be a different format and structure to interviewing with the line manager. Different again will be meeting with an agency recruiter for a client role. Usually an interview with a HR Manager or a recruiter is structured and thorough as they are experienced in interviewing. The questions are often behavioural descriptive questions, which often start with “Give me an example of a time when …” as past behaviour is indicative of future behaviour. On occasion, when meeting a line manager you may feel you can’t get a word in. Inexperienced interviewers can spend the interview time discussing the role and the company and neglect ask the questions around your suitability for the position. Before every interview you should be prepared with key examples which demonstrate your fit for a position. If you feel that the interview is drawing to a close and you’ve not had much air time don’t conclude the interview until you’ve provided the interviewer with examples. Don’t miss the opportunity to describe your talents.

A few do’s and don’ts

  • DO be a good listener as well as a good talker and remember to smile
  • DO pause a moment after the interviewer asks a question.  When you are nervous, it is easy to ‘jump’ in too early to answer a question.  This is often perceived as not listening properly / thoroughly and not being considered enough in your response
  • DON’T just answer questions, respond to them.  Be careful not to ‘over answer’ questions.  Be as concise as possible and don’t keep talking if you can’t answer the question. If you think you are rambling, you probably are.
  • DON’T over share with personal information that is not relevant to the role.
  • DON’T enquire about salary, holidays, bonuses etc. at the initial interview. You should, however, know your market value and be prepared to specify your required salary.  Discuss this with your Consultant before the interview, as they will have specified a salary range.

Try not to be nervous remember the interviewer wants you to be right for their role, they have a need and your skills and experience may be the answer to their problems!

In Australian culture we’re taught not to “blow your own trumpet” and agreed, there is a place for modesty. However an interview is a forum where it is acceptable to discuss your talents and achievements.  Don’t attribute a win to team when in fact it was your win. Use “I” instead of “we” if it was you who achieved the outcome. Language is powerful, be confident in your approach and practice how you’re going to demonstrate your achievements and abilities in the examples you chose to provide.

Closing

When an interview is coming to a close reiterate your interest in their company and role. Ask if the interviewer has any concerns at this point about your fit to the position and if possible alleviate those concerns prior to the meeting ending. Finally thank them for their time and consideration.

This blog just covered a few of tips that I believe are really important however there is a plethora of wonderful information available on how to best prepare for an interview. My suggestion is make the effort, do some research and then practice responses to a range of different questions you anticipate may be asked. Like everything else in life “practice makes perfect”!

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