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Nail Your Next Interview with These Simple Tips

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by Liam Hassell

almost 4 years ago

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Experience has taught me that almost everyone can benefit from a few simple tips when it comes to that big important interview.  Most of my advice will be common sense, but as someone who could entertain you for hours with stories of monumental interview fails, I think it is still worth reviewing.

Be prepared

Do your homework. Know exactly where you're going and how you're going to get there, and plan accordingly. The last thing you want is to be late to an interview, but you should never arrive too early.  While some people might think showing up 20 to 30 minutes early is a good thing, the reality is the manager, like you, probably has a busy schedule.  If he or she is pulled away from something, you run the risk of having them go into the interview in the completely wrong frame of mind. Not a good start! As part of your homework you should also research the company,  what the "news" in their world is, and, if possible, try and find the manager's details on Linkedin.

First impressions

Make sure your first impressions count. Smelling of cigarettes = fail. Mismatching suits = fail. A manager is only going to take you as seriously as you take the interview. I would always recommend going to an interview professionally presented, unless the client themselves outright tells you not to (it could be a dress down day in their office). When you do arrive to your potential employer’s offices (five minutes before the meeting) you will most likely be asked to take a seat.  I always tell my candidates to get themselves out of the way but to remain standing so they are on their feet when the client comes to greet them. It might seem insignificant, but it’s something I find very effective. The polar opposite of this is someone sitting down, playing with their mobile phone, or worse, talking on it. When you do greet the interviewing manager you should always have a good firm handshake and maintain eye contact. If sweaty palms are a problem, a quick fix is to grab your sleeve just before they meet you.

Provide detail

This one seems like a no-brainer, but you need to be able to explain, in detail, your work history and experience. Do not make the common mistake of assuming the manager has read your CV cover to cover, knows your experience and therefore doesn't really need you to detail it all. The reality is that most hiring managers will read your CV only once and considerable time could have passed between receiving your CV and conducting your interview. When the big day comes, the hiring manager is relying on you to sell yourself and your experience. The key here is to be confident and comprehensive in what you’re saying.  A good exercise to prepare for an interview is to grab a pen and paper, put your CV to one side, and write down your major responsibilities and achievements from the last couple of roles. Turn the CV over, do a little reconciliation, and I guarantee that nine out of ten times there will be obvious things you've forgotten to write down or include on your CV. This is a great exercise to help confidently recall information. If you have a job description, I would pull out the pen again and line by line go through each point writing down where you've completed similar tasks previously. The more confidently and more comprehensively you can walk through your experience the more confidence you will give them!

Display your strengths, don’t list them

When it comes to talking about yourself and your strengths, use real, relevant examples. So many people like to provide a shopping list of responses to what they can bring. "Hardworking, dedicated, great team player..." But rattling off a number of bullet points rarely leaves a good impression and certainly doesn't differentiate you from others.  When you’re talking about your strengths, think of some practical examples of how you use these strengths to add value. A good framework to use is "Situation, Action, Outcome." This is what was happening, here’s specifically what I did, and this is what was achieved. The accounts payable officer who merely lists "attention to detail" will always lose out to the accounts payable officer who says, “I have good attention to detail. When I receive an invoice, I check the coding, check for a purchase order, process the invoice and then reconcile the supplier statements to make sure everything is accurate."


If you apply these simple tips, you will improve your performance at any interview. For more tips and advice please call us on +612 8270 9700.

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