An interview can be an intimidating process. It is a dictionary definition of a first impression; within the first couple of minutes, you are setting the tone, showcasing yourself, and possibly securing your professional life for a foreseeable future.
The best way to overcome stress and nerves is to prepare. You need just the right amount of preparation though; too much, and you will lose the opportunity to showcase your natural qualities; not enough, and you will look like an ignorant.
Working with interviewees for over a decade now I would strongly recommend starting with the basic preparations.
Check them out
What company you are having an interview with, which market / sector they operate in. What are the values they believe in and what kind of plans they have for the future?
These questions can be answered by looking at the ‘about us’ / ‘who we are’ section of the company’s website.
I would encourage you to check those details regardless of the kind of role you are applying for. Whether it is permanent or contract, long-term or short-term, at the end of the day you want to be in an environment that carries the beliefs that are close to your heart. Or at least you want to be aware what kind of reality you are considering getting yourself into:)
Analyse the role
This is a key to any successful interview. Look at the job description for the role you are applying for. Read it from two perspectives:
- Which qualities and skills I can bring to meet the expectations listed in the role?
- What is the reason for the role to be open?
The first question allows you to complete a very difficult process: looking at your own profile / CV / resume like if it was somebody else’s. You look at yourself from the point of view of your interviewer. Obviously, they noticed you and your CV, and you passed their first review brilliantly, being invited to an interview. Now, you do need to map put your expertise with the role. Look at the responsibilities mentioned in the job description. Think about 1-2 paragraph answers to each and every one of them, coming from you. That way you will be able to provide answers to critical questions during your interview with ease.
The second question is more strategic and allows you to think about the problem that lies under the need for hiring in this particular position. This is a great start to a short analysis which again will help you justify your decision of being in this recruitment process. And help you believe in you being the best possible candidate for the role, which in turn will work for you during an interview.
Do something you love doing
This may sound odd, but it works. A day or two before an interview make sure you do one activity you really enjoy doing. Something that is feasible but requires a little bit of effort to complete. That will give you a sense of personal accomplishment and you will be able to carry that feel into your interview.
Finally, during an interview, be attentive, show up earlier (5 minutes ahead of scheduled MS Teams / Zoom call always looks good), and don’t be afraid to ask for your interviewer to repeat 1, or 2 questions throughout. Pause, take 3-5 second break before answering any question. Use the opportunity at the end to ask a question – about the projects, the nature of the role, the team you might be joining. This will show your commitment and prove you have thought about the role beforehand. You came prepared.
And that is how you shine at an interview.