It's of absolute importance during the interview that you remain calm. Practicing and rehearsing your answers ahead of time will certainly help you. Bear in mind however, that you don’t want to overthink your answers to the interview questions. If you are nervous and your head is full of completely scripted answers, you are going to appear robotic, rigid and difficult to relate to. Just keep a general idea of what you are going to say for each question, rather than trying to memorize entire answers.
If you didn’t understand a question or misheard it, don’t panic, simply ask if they would repeat themselves. If you need clarification, ask for it. It’s better to appear like you’re nitpicking rather than answering a question completely incorrectly because you misunderstood.
Preparation is key. Make sure you get well rested, eat properly in the morning, have your outfit ready the night before, and you leave the house with plenty of time to spare so you aren't rushing. If you limit your stress before the interview, the easier it will be to stay calm when it begins.
Avoiding the Common Interview Mistakes
The interview is the most important part of any job application process. The resume/cover letters are just tools to get you to the interview stage. The interview itself is what will decide whether the employer feels you are a good fit or not, and it is here that you need to put in the most preparation. Below are some of the more common interview mistakes that you must avoid:
❶ Dress appropriately. Underdressing is a sure way to make the interviewer think you’re not serious. If it’s a small, casual, startup company, it may be a little stuffy to wear a full business suit. Researching the company can be useful here. If in doubt, it’s always better to overdress than to underdress.
❷ This one may seem obvious, but you must not be late for your interview. Plan ahead so that you will arrive at least fifteen minutes early, a wider berth is even better if possible. There’s no harm in arriving ten minutes early if the traffic was good. It just gives you ten minutes extra to go over what you’re going to say.
❸ Don’t bring a drink into the interview with you, and don’t chew gum. These are just unnecessary distractions (and it looks sloppy) that need to be avoided when you’re focusing on answering questions, maintaining eye contact etc.
❹ Turn off your phone, better yet, don’t even bring it into the interview.
❺ When it comes to dates, places and names on your resume, make sure you get it right and that you have a comfortable grasp of the information. They may ask you about previous jobs or education in the interview and if you start getting your dates mixed up, you’re going to risk looking foolish and unreliable.
❻ Pay attention. Get well rested the night before, make sure you’ve eaten and you’re completely focused. If you start zoning out or appearing to not be engaged, you’re going to lose the employer’s interest too.
❼ Keep it succinct. Sometimes when people are nervous they’ll start talking excessively, this is to be avoided. Don’t ramble on about your life story, answer the question and that’s it. Always keep your answers relevant to the job.
❽ Ask good questions. At the end of pretty much every interview, you will be given the opportunity to ask your own questions to the interviewer. This is important, and is something you should prepare beforehand. Asking good questions demonstrates your enthusiasm and interest in the company. A couple of good questions you could ask might be; “how has the recent merger impacted the company?” or “How would you describe the work environment at the company?” Ultimately, when you’re asked if you have any questions, never simply say “no”. If it just so happens that they covered all your pre-planned questions in the interview, at least say that you were wondering about a few things, but the interviewer was very thorough covering everything during the discussion.
Researching the Company
This part is very important, and can help you in many different ways. It can give you insight into the company’s culture and aims, which you can then use in your interview. If you don’t know anything about the company, it’ll likely show in the interview, and when you’re floundering, it’s going to leave a bad impression.
First things first, check out the company website. Most sites have an ‘about us’ section, or something similar. See if they have a mission statement, if they do, make a note of it, it might come in handy. Check the company’s history, their roots and origins, you might be able to tie this in to your own answers. If the company prides itself on it's humble beginnings, you could mention how you have a similar story and you can really relate to that.
From here, it might be useful to check social media. Most companies will have a facebook page or twitter account. You might want to subscribe to their page to get updates you may have otherwise have missed.
Finally, check the company’s Glassdoor page. Glassdoor is a great resource because you can use it to find out what questions other people who held interviews with the company were asked, and can then start planning your answers accordingly.
Common Interview Questions
Looking for information on some of the more commonly asked interview questions and how to answer them? Click here.
Practicing the Interview
This might seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many people don’t take this step, usually believing they’ll “be fine” and “won’t need to practice”. Interviews are important, pressure situations, and for most people, if you aren’t prepared, you’re going to struggle.
Rehearsing your interview is never a bad thing. Write down a list of common interview questions, and recruit a friend or family member to help you by having them ask you the questions as if they were the interviewer. Try to set up a scene as if it’s a real interview, at a table with chairs on either side. It’s important to take it seriously otherwise it won’t be much help.
It may also be useful, when practicing, to dress up as if you were at the real interview. Not only will it help give you a sense of authenticity, but many people are also not used to dressing up in suits and may find it uncomfortable, so it’s a good idea to get used to it at home, so that it isn’t a distraction during the real thing. This might also help you discover ahead of time that the suit you haven’t worn in five years no longer fits you…