The job market is super-competitive, with vacancies being snapped up quickly, so if you’re looking to move to a new position, it’s vital to ensure that everything’s working in your favour, and that includes how you conduct yourself at interview. It’s important to be yourself and to give an accurate representation of your skills and abilities, but what exactly will help and hinder your application?
If you can, do some research into the company culture to get a feel for how relaxed or formal the working environment is. That way you can ensure that you pitch your attire correctly and avoid turning up either overdressed or looking too casual. If you’re unsure, it’s better to be dressed slightly more formally than to dress down, as that may give the impression that you’re not overly serious about the position you’re applying for.
Your body language
Your research into the company culture and the nature of any communication you’ll have received from the organisation will give you an insight into how formal the business is. This will enable you to set your body language at the correct level, but in general terms it’s important to be confident, sit up straight and make eye contact with your interviewer. Smiling and nodding at the right moment will convey empathy and engagement, while slouching, crossing your arms and avoiding eye contact will create the wrong impression. It’s likely that you’ll experience some nerves in an interview scenario but it’s best to try to project a level of confidence that will reassure the employer that you’re up to the job.
It’s worth taking a breath and considering your answer to any question before delivering it. You may be tempted to blurt out an answer in order to pass the baton back to the interviewer but taking your time and giving a measured answer will show that you can remain composed and that you don’t panic under pressure. The interviewer will have a list of areas they want to cover during the interview, so allow them to stay in control and direct the conversation initially. On the flip side, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you need to as the interview is a two-way process; the employer is sussing you out, but you’re also there to decide whether the company is the right fit for you too.
At some point during the interview a question will pop into your head, so park that for the appropriate moment and make sure you ask it. As mentioned, interviews are there for both parties to evaluate whether they’re right for one another, so you need to ensure that you have enough information to make an informed decision. In addition, asking relevant questions indicates your interest in the company, especially if they demonstrate your knowledge of the industry sector and the company.
While you need to convey the depth of your experience, it’s important to avoid waffling and presenting yourself as something you’re not. Before the interview, prepare a mental note of all the experience you have that’s relevant and beneficial to the employer. But conversely, if you’re lacking experience in a certain area, be honest and admit it as that will gain you more respect that trying to massage the truth. Above all, honesty is the best policy here.
Your ability to listen
Many candidates approach their interview like a bull in a china shop, believing that the more they talk, the better they’ll sound. This isn’t the case, as interviewers will be looking at how well you listen and stay focused when information is presented to you. As a result, taking a breath and making sure that you listen to the question carefully will set you in good stead. This will also enable you to answer all the interviewer’s questions in a concise and relevant manner.
Don’t be afraid to highlight areas in which you’ve succeeded, both at work and in your social life. Showcasing your previous accomplishments will help to build a picture of your drive and determination to create positive outcomes and will demonstrate how recruiting you will benefit your new employer. However, it’s also crucial to avoid over-emphasising your past achievements as your interviewer will be seeking to understand how this experience will potentially benefit them in the role they’re looking to fill.
Your previous employment
The fact that you’re applying for a new position indicates that all isn’t right with your current employer, whether it’s the company culture, a lack of career progression or the need to relocate. Whatever the reason behind you applying for the new job, avoid overt criticism of your current or previous employer at all costs. It pays to be diplomatic in this area.
Rosa dos Santos, owner of Exact Sourcing, believes that when it comes to your interview technique it’s best to stick to a few simple tactics. ‘When we talk to our candidates about interview technique, we stress that a few simple things can make a huge difference,’ comments Rosa. ‘We encourage them to try to turn the interview into more of a conversation than a question-and-answer session. The more you feel as though you’re conversing with the interviewer, the more engagement there will be. Generating conversation also enables you to relax and convey more of your personality, and that can be hugely influential for anyone hiring. That said, it’s important to read the room and to pitch your body language, your listening skills and your answers at the correct level. Every employer is different but practising your interview technique and developing your skills in this area can only improve your chances of success.’
Exact Sourcing is a recruitment agency in Cambridge and Newmarket, and we also serve Ely, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Royston and Sawston. If you’re looking to move to a position, please contact us for an initial discussion.