Interview Techniques

Interviews are an inevitable part of job searching or promotion. However competent you may be, it is not unusual for interviews to be your Achilles heel. This guide is meant as a quick step-by-step aid-memoire to get you “match fit” for your interview.

1. Be prepared

It is not usual to go into an interview without warning so there’s no excuse for being ill prepared.

How do you look? Preparing the way you look and feel is as important as knowing your subject. Knowing that you look your best will increase your confidence.

Who is interviewing you? Know everything you can about the people who are interviewing you. Ask their colleagues and if you know them, their friends about their likes and dislikes. They may have pet likes, distinctive views on subjects or be running projects. Know what they are. If this is a new company know everything you can about the company and their stake holders.


2. Control your nerves and body language

Everyone is nervous before an interview, the secret is controlling the nerves. Being nervous at the time of the interview is not a bad thing. Your senses will be heightened and you will be attuned to your situation.

The secret is not being too nervous for a long period before the interview. Your body would find it difficult keeping you at the heightened state for too long. Try to relax beforehand. The day before the interview is not the day for studying or revising. It is a day for relaxing and keeping calm. Exercise, sleep, eat sensibly and unwind, all good things to do before your interview.

You can only make one first impression so plan how you will meet your interviewees. Will you shake their hands? (If so not a limp handshake!) Will you walk meaningfully to your chair?

Avoid waffling. In the first few minutes compose yourself and think before you speak. Silence is not a bad thing so do not feel you have to speak whenever there is a gap in the interview.

Have fluent body language. Focus on a single word to get your body language fluid and relaxed, not displaying tension or anxiety. Examples of the word you can focus on when you enter the room are “calm’, “peaceful”, “graceful” or “quiet”. This may feel strange but it will, with practise help you feel and communicate with a mix of calmness and assertiveness.


3. Sell yourself

You will be in competition. Do not focus on anyone else but yourself. You cannot possibly influence how anyone else will perform in an interview but you can make sure you are the best you can be, “match fit”.

What makes you different? The interviewers could be seeing a large number of people. Why should they employ or promote you? You need to be able to articulate the reasons why they would be mad not to give the position to you!!

Focus on why you will get the job. If you go into the interview believing you won’t get it then guess what...... you won’t get it. If you do not believe in you then no one will.... Sell yourself.

The most important part of the interview is the first five minutes and the last five minutes. Prepare what you will say to convince the interviewers that you are the one for the job/promotion.

Know your strengths. What are you really good at?

Know your weaknesses. What part of the job/promotion would you feel less comfortable about undertaking? If you are aware and honest about these then be in a position to demonstrate how you are or how you have taken steps to fill this knowledge gap. e.g.. mentor, shadowing, evening school or coaching.

"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right." --Henry Ford


4. Dealing with questions you do not expect or know the answer to

When it comes to answering a question you do not understand, do not waffle. Ask for an explanation and if you still have no idea then say so. It really is OK to admit you do not know the answer. If the interviewer is dismissive do not become passive or worse aggressive, be assertive and say that “although it is not something you know the answer to you are happy to learn more when you are in the post”.

Whether it is a deliberate ploy or not (asking a difficult question sometimes is intentional) how you handle the question will say more about you than the answer.

Some difficult questions can be anticipated and should be prepared for.

  • “Why should we give you the job/promotion?”.
  • “How have you coped with difficult colleagues, situations?”.
  • “What skills would you bring to the post?”

can find other questions by typing “difficult interview questions” into your search engine. Practise answers to these they will help prepare you.

Talent alone won't make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: 'Are you ready?' --Johnny Carson

I really hope that this guide hopes to prepare you for your interview. If you need any further support, a short burst of intensive coaching may be all you need to secure that role. Contact Maxlowe to find out more.

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